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The InnerCHANGE Voice is a bi-monthly publication specifically for friends of InnerCHANGE. In this issue, we look at pursuing wholistic health alongside our neighbors.
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Dear Friends,


As we seek to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God in our neighborhoods, we discover that the health of people's bodies and minds is an important piece of working for overall transformation. We seek to follow Jesus' example of proclaiming the good news in word and deed, telling people of God's redemption and demonstrating it in very physical ways. For many of our members around the world, caring for the sick and empowering others to do so is a regular part of demonstrating the love of God. In this issue, we hear stories from Miami, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Salt & Light: Los Angeles, CA        

(click above to watch)

Abi shares about finding ways to help when there doesn't seem to be anything helpful to do.

For more Salt + Light videos visit vimeo.com/channels/icsaltandlight

Nursing On the Go

by Samantha Baker-Evens

I open the door to the Starbucks and wheel my red nursing bag inside.  I quickly scan the room.  College students lounge at tables or stand in line for coffee.  The barista at the counter recognizes me, waves, and points to one of the nearby tables.  She knows who I am looking for.  One patron stands out, and I make my way through the tables to sit with her.  Karen is in her fifties.  She is sunburned and has dirty white hair.  She sits with a large iced coffee muttering to herself, wearing far too many layers of clothing for the mild spring air.  She gives me a big toothless grin when I greet her.  That is a good sign.  As often as not, she yells at me.  We chat about how she is feeling.  I take a look at a knee that is bothering her.  Because of her schizophrenia, I frequently feel like I am competing with the other voices she hears to hold her attention.  Karen agrees to come back to her home with me, a supportive residence, for her monthly anti-psychotic shot.  At the residence, I give her the shot.  She bursts into tears, so I give her a hug, and she regains her lopsided grin.  Her case manager tells me that she has been vomiting after coming back from Starbucks the last few days.  On my way back to the clinic, I stop at the Starbucks and ask the staff to cut down on the amount of free coffee they give Karen.  I think it is upsetting her stomach.  

When we left Cambodia four years ago, I had come to the place where I knew I wanted to go back to school to study nursing, but I didn't have all the pieces of how it would fit with my InnerCHANGE vocation.  I just had a persistent sense that I was burying my talents, that a part of me wasn't being expressed fully in my years in incarnational ministry to that point and that God was calling me to step aside for a season to re-tool.  I moved my family internationally and started a nursing program without a clear sense of how it would all fit together.  It wasn't clear in my mind how I could be relational and incarnational and professional at the same time.  I quickly learned through clinical placements and our own experience with our son's disabilities, that wholistic, integrated, excellent and compassionate care is more available for the wealthy than the poor in America.  I started working as a nurse and quickly discovered that my InnerCHANGE DNA was exactly what was needed in healthcare settings that work with the marginalized.  People with disabilities or living with chronic diseases need connection and relationship.  They also need advocacy and healthcare providers who will be prophetic on their behalf.  They need healthcare that is incarnational and meets them where they are: their physical location as well as their emotional and spiritual location.  Nursing along with my InnerCHANGE vocation and my experience as the parent of a child who is differently abled has given me a passion for making safe places for people who are different and the skills to do something about it.  I love working with people like Karen.  What is beautiful about Karen is not that she was healed of her schizophrenia, but that a community learned to embrace her and shifted to make a safe place for her, and maybe experienced some healing through her as well.  A bit of God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Samantha Baker-Evens works as a nurse among folks experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia.  She has been a member of InnerCHANGE since 1998 and has had many adventures living in San Francisco, Australia, and Cambodia before moving to Philadelphia.  She is married to Chris and they have two sons, Patrick and Isaac.

Companion to the Broken

by Erika Philip
I remember thirteen years ago, sitting on the porch of my house in Rwanda, East Africa, with my husband and our neighbor.  We sat for hours in the damp, darkness of the night as he shared with such vivid recollection how the genocide unfolded in his life.  As his heavy words filled the air, I felt the deep wounds of his heart and then I watched his hand point to the scars of the machete that sliced through his flesh on his face and arms.  Each scar symbolized such darkness and hatred.  I couldn’t fathom such horror much less understand the indelible marks left on his soul.  I was left speechless and experienced a form significant helplessness that was actually quite traumatizing to me.  Not because of what I heard, as hard and graphic as it was, but because of my inability to knowledgeably help this man.  In this moment I came face to face with my own inadequacies.  My young, naive and dedicated fervor for the mission field wasn’t enough.  And though I felt the Holy Spirit near guiding and comforting and bringing healing and hope, I knew I needed to do more. I knew He was asking me to do more.

After nearly 20 years working with people on the margins, my heart is more broken and tender than ever.  I have heard more horror and pain then I would care to recollect.  I am continually humbled by the courageous invitation of my friends to come and sit with them in the ashes of mourning of their lives.  However, with each invitation before I accept, there is a moment of pause, wherein I consider the cost.  When one willingly walks alongside of deep pain, inevitably one bears the scars of anguish.  And yet each time Jesus says, “Come. Do not fear. Walk with Me as I walk with them and with you.  In lament you will find much hope and through death there is resurrection.”

The path of our missional journey led us from the urban poor of traumatized Rwanda through to the concrete, row homes of violent Chicago housing projects to rural, war-torn Uganda, to the shotgun homes of broken Miami and at each turn, I came to the same conclusion.  I had a responsibility personally to be equipped to love and serve my neighbors beyond the knowledge I had gleaned from my experience.  

So after settling into our Afro-Caribbean neighborhood in Miami and our family growing by three kids, I went back to school to get my Masters in Mental Health Psychology.  It took me nearly six years because I didn’t take a break from life- I still was engaged fully in our neighborhood.  Staying engaged, though academically it took me much longer, was exactly what I needed to do.  My professors, books, articles, and research papers taught me a ton, especially as I focused much of my course work on trauma.  However, my neighbors taught me the most as they  continued to invite me in while courageously fighting through addiction, trauma, grief, and family brokenness.  Now, on the other side of education, though I am officially a therapist, I continue to be taught and stretched more than the classroom ever could offer me.  However, I do experience a new confidence and know-how to walk further into the trenches of brokenness than I possessed before.  The Comforter weeps next to me as I listen and His tender touch heals most profoundly.  I am grateful to be asked to be a companion of the poor and broken. To me there is not greater calling. 


For nearly two decades,  Erika, her husband, and three children have lived in communities of poverty in Chicago, Rwanda, Uganda, and presently in an Afro Caribbean neighborhood in Miami.   Embedded in her soul is a strong belief  that  God does is—make all things new, bring sight to the blind and freedom to the captive, and set the lonely in families. Erika is also a member of the Horizons Service Team in InnerCHANGE that serves the rest of the order in planting and stabilizing new teams in new locations. She also works part time as a trauma therapist with survivors of severe sexual abuse and trauma.
Thank you for reading this edition of the InnerChange Voice. We're so glad to have you walking with us. We welcome your comments and questions. 

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