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Nursing Team Takes
Haiti presents two sharply contrasting pictures. One features beautiful mountains, a blue ocean, palm trees and brightly decorated buses packed with smiling people. The other reveals disease, abject poverty and human misery.
Last July, a Seattle Pacific University team of four nursing students and five pre-med students entered both pictures for an intensive three weeks. They were one of 10 summer SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational) teams sent to different locations around the globe.
Under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Nursing Priscilla Ziegler and her husband and adjunct instructor Henry Ziegler, the Haiti team arrived with six boxes of medications and supplies. They were ready to learn and to assist the Dessalines Rural Health Program and the Haiti Interior Mission of the Free Methodist Church.
Their first assignment: HIV testing of 394 pregnant women. Twelve tested positive for HIV and were offered nevaripine, a low-cost medication with few side effects. Treatment was also made available to newborn infants.
"This gave students a hands-on opportunity to help deliver care to people in great need," says Priscilla Ziegler. "Little can be achieved in such a short time, but we did have the blessed opportunity to save the life of a premature infant who is now in the process of being adopted in the U.S."
Ziegler holds a clinical doctorate in nursing while her husband is a medical doctor with a master's degree in public health. Both have been involved in overseas education and health care through several universities. Their work has taken them to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.
As the hot days in Haiti unfolded, the team produced a health education video, administered anti-worm medication to 250 children, hiked into five rural clinics to see more than 750 patients, and worked alongside nurses and physicians at Dessalines Hospital. Under the supervision of Priscilla Ziegler, students observed cases of malaria, gonorrhea and tuberculosis. They participated in the care of in- patients through administration of medications, dressing changes for burn victims and IV insertions.
"A bittersweet memory," wrote Becky Weinz, a senior nursing student from Bothell, Washington, "will be of baby Callencia, who was in the hospital with second and third degree burns to her legs. We cared for her from the first day we worked at the hospital and became close to her and her mother. I don't think any of us thought she wouldn't make it ..."
Callencia subsequently died and the team was numb after having spent so much love and energy on her. But out of defeat came a blessing. The next day the baby's mother and sister arrived unexpectedly at the team's mission house and committed their lives to Christ.
For the Zieglers, there was a sense of accomplishment at the end of the trip and a team commitment to find funding for continued HIV and health education activities in Haiti. For the students, it was hands-on education as much about compassion as medical treatment.
From Oklahoma to Oprah, Parrotts Continue Their Marriage Initiative
Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating decided to do something about his state's divorce rate, one of the worst in the nation. The first-ever statewide marriage initiative set a bold goal: to reduce Oklahoma's divorce rate by a third. Among the first experts that the governor turned to were Seattle Pacific University's Les and Leslie Parrott.
"We believe this could be the greatest social revolution any state has ever seen," says Les, professor of psychology and co-director of SPU's Center for Relationship Development. "When marriages are stronger, so are families. When families are stronger, the crime rate goes down, education levels increase and the economy improves."
He and Leslie, a marriage and family therapist, spent last year on academic leave, criss-crossing Oklahoma speaking to service clubs, university campuses, churches, and government and business leaders in an effort to raise public awareness of the initiative. They were interviewed by local and national media, wrote a book on better marriages with the governor and First Lady, trained lay people in marriage-mentoring techniques, and continue to work on a PBS documentary about the initiative.
In Nashville in August, the Parrotts chaired a conference of 6,000 Christian counselors and issued a challenge. "Those who serve the church need to awaken the sleeping giant within our midst and raise up marriage mentors in every congregation," Les says. "For too long the church has been a wedding factory that cranks out couples with little knowledge of what it takes to build a successful marriage. We think that's about to change."
In September, the Parrotts taped a second show on strong marriages with Oprah on the day before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. The popular talk show host is now interested in the Parrotts' latest book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages, especially how people value their relationships more in light of the tragedy.
New Book Explores
Piety in the Wesleyan Tradition
There is a particular liturgical energy in African-American Methodism, just as there is an experiential focus to the Holiness movement. While both are quite different expressions of piety from those found in "standard" Methodism, both are genealogical branches of the same tree.
So what do we have here? Not-so-subtle cultural variations on the same theological theme, or methods of religious practice fundamentally changed from the parentage that gave them birth?
Rick Steele, Seattle Pacific University professor of moral and historical theology, assembled 10 other Christian scholars and authors to join him in excavating the roots of the Wesleyan movement in search of answers to this provocative question.
Begun in 1995, the collection of essays that resulted was woven into a recently released book titled "Heart Religion" in the Methodist Tradition and Related Movements. Edited by Steele, it is part of the Pietist and Wesleyan Studies series published by The Scarecrow Press, Inc. "These are not just essays in spiritual archaeology," Steele notes. "Half the book examines the ways in which vital piety is interpreted and manifested in the common strands of Wesleyanism today."
In his own essay titled "The Passion and the Passions," Steele draws a clear distinction between redemptive and destructive passions, while pointing to the "master passion" of faith in Christ. This passion, he writes, is the one way to a joyful and hopeful life, and the one power that can diminish and eventually destroy the destructive passions.
Because the chapters are written by busy, highly regarded Wesleyan experts, Rick says the book was "an exercise in patience, tact and cajolery." Fortunately, two more contributors were found close at hand in SPU colleagues Randy Maddox, professor of Wesleyan theology, and Les Steele, former dean of the School of Theology, now vice president for academic affairs.
"Randy is one of the most erudite Wesleyan scholars ever," Rick Steele says. Maddox's essay opens the book and is titled "A Change of Affections: The Development, Dynamics, and Dethronement of John Wesley's Heart Religion." In it, he traces Wesley's growing conviction of the need for an actual experience of God's love in order for us to love God and neighbor in return.
Rick Steele sees Les Steele's chapter titled "Educating the Heart" as a natural elaboration of the years of work Les has invested in the study of spiritual formation. Les writes of the need to develop educational models in the church that are designed "to engage both the heart and the head" without overemphasizing either intellectualism or feelings.
"Christian holiness is more than doctrinal correctness, and it is more than moral goodness," Rick Steele concludes. "It also involves the renewal of the human heart, the awakening of a certain spiritual festivity that delivers us from the appalling solemnity and the equally appalling frivolity with which most people live their lives." A careful reading of Heart Religion may foster that very thing.