Finding God In The Strangest Places

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Edited6By: Dr. Kim Carney, serving in Bolivia

“Puedo aprender a hacerlo?”

Loosely translated from Spanish, this phrase asks the question; can I learn to do that?  On my journey with Christian Veterinary Mission in Bolivia, I have found this question to be the best and most appropriate to both listen for and ask.

One of the many qualities needed for mission work, be it short-term or long-term, is to be open-minded and always willing to learn. At times you need to unlock your inner five-year old and simply get curious. It can be illuminating for those learning and respectful for those you’re with. If you’re considering going on a mission, this blog post talks about some of the character qualities that may be helpful in your planning and praying.

I find that sharing skills from anything from how to perform an ovariohysterectomy, explaining a conjugation of a verb, or to organizing a Bible study are great ways to engage people, especially when the learning goes both ways!

God has given us the opportunity to teach and have a huge office space in the veterinary school at Gabriel Rene Moreno University, the largest public university in the largest city in Bolivia, with over 200 students starting the program every semester. The office is a fantastic place for students to just come hang out and chat, have Bible studies or even share a lunch.

Friends, this is such a wonderful way to model Christ’s love through veterinary medicine. Regardless of country or environment, our profession opens doors like no other using our shared love for animals as a bridge to the Gospel message. Yet while God has called veterinarians to service, much is required of those who remain home.

Please help Send a Vet with your donation to Christian Veterinary Mission.

The following story shows you the impact that veterinarians can have in places that for most seem out of reach.

Recently, a group of students began organizing a Wednesday movie afternoon, where we view popular films like “God’s Not Dead” and then discuss them. From this core group, students are finding their voice and asking faith questions that may otherwise be left unsaid. This is a tremendous blessing to me as I’m given the opportunity to guide and pray with young men and women who are searching for hope and willing to gain a deeper understanding about life and faith.

 

Without access to the veterinary school at the University, I fear that this Spirit filled opportunity may not have come to pass. It wasn’t what we had planned, and we certainly weren’t expecting to see movies with students as a path to the Gospel! Nonetheless, we are gratefully willing to learn and are simply thankful to a God that prepares our steps.

God is working through us and through our profession so that we have the chance to speak in to people’s lives, pray with them, learn their hearts and introduce them to a beautiful Savior.

So yes, we CAN all learn to do many new things! Who’d have thought a regular old mixed animal vet could be certified to teach English, talk through whole surgeries in another language or learn to use movie reviews as an outreach tool.

Please pray for us as we begin this new semester, and for the students. Specifically we ask that you pray for our continued favor at the University, and that students will continue to bring friends to find a place of peace in their busy days, and that we could be adequate vehicles of God’s grace to these developing professionals.

We want to challenge you to join with your professional colleagues in making a Kingdom impact through Christian Veterinary Mission. Whether it’s through service or your prayerful donation, we pray that Christ’s name be glorified.

Send a Vet to the mission field with your donation today.

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Why Professional Vets Should Press Into Their Clients Pain

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By Dr. Nancy Vigil

I like to read bumper stickers. Some of them are funny, like the one I saw recently that said “I do eat more kale.” Well, I’m glad somebody is doing it.

Last week as I pushed my cart through the grocery store parking lot, I saw one plastered to the back of a mini-van amidst various pet rescue stickers that said, “My Dog is the Center of My World.”

Wow.

As a veterinarian, that will make you take pause but as a Christian veterinarian it made me catch my breath. What a responsibility we have to care for what is, in many cases somebody’s best friend. As people are increasingly injured by their human relationships, they are turning to pets for companionship and love. And here we are as veterinarians with a whole new paradigm for practice!

I could go on about this because this trend in society fascinates me, but that’s not what I am writing about today. Instead, I want to explore how as health care providers, we have the courage and strength to help individuals walk through difficult times with their pets.

When that client, whose dog is the center of her world walks into our clinic with her pet, she is totally invested in that animal’s well-being. Whether he is coming in for a toe nail trim or a serious illness, she wants to feel that we are available and providing our best service. It is easy to make that happen most of the time when a patient’s illness is readily treatable and within the client’s financial limits.

But it becomes very challenging when the pet has a terminal illness or requires treatment that the owner cannot afford. Then, veterinarians may become the scapegoat for the owner’s pain and frustration. Owners become emotionally charged, draining the practitioner of time and energy. And while we may feel distracted, tired or even impatient it does not change the client’s reality –she still is losing one of the most important pieces of her life!

I will admit that I have been known to cringe when I see these needy clients on my schedule, even complaining about them to my techs. As humans, we want to avoid painful situations and resist being forced to face them.
We whine and worry and make excuses, even blaming the hurting person for making us deal with them. But as a Christian, I have recently discovered a powerful truth; we can press into the pain instead of wanting to run from it.

We have an opportunity to be a burden bearer as it says in
Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the Law of Christ.”

By gently and compassionately walking alongside hurting clients as they face difficulties they cannot navigate alone, we are fulfilling the Law of Christ, which is to love the Lord our God with all our strength and love our neighbor as yourself. Who else will understand the way we can? Who else
will provide relief to their hurting pet the way a Christian veterinarian can?!

Make yourself available to listen, to offer practical ways to make their pet comfortable, and to cry. But the trick is this –as we carry the burdens of others, we must let Jesus carry
ours.

We will feel weak and heavy-laden but He will give us rest. As I said before, press into the pain. Picture Jesus’ bruised and battered body on the cross, remembering that He died for that client whose dog is the center of their world. Envision yourself touching the holes in His hand and
side and know that He also came for you! Jesus came to justify the many, and to bear their iniquities. As his followers we cannot shirk away from difficulty and pain in dealing with others as we fulfill the law of Christ.

Nancy is a graduate of Michigan State University, and has been married for 31 years to her best friend and classmate, Dr. Aaron Vigil. She raises two children , serves her family and church community and practices veterinary medicine.

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Image: Glorifying Christ by Reflecting Him

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mirrorBy Dr. Melissa Cheeks

Last week, we talked about how purposeful fellowship is the first step in honoring the Lord in any workplace. The next point comes on the heels of that lesson. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Unlike other parts of creation, we were formed in the image of God, and as such image bearers, we have different responsibilities. As John Piper says, this difference “helps get at the essence of how humans honor God with their work.” We were made to reflect exactly who God is, in order that the world can daily honor him. Our work should inspire others to draw closer to God.

As part of our duty to his creation, we are tasked with having dominion over other creatures. Do you remember what Psalm 8 said about humans? “You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” If you read last week’s post, you’ll know that I love Psalm 8, and find it a beautiful representation of our jobs as veterinarians. While healing the physically broken is a tangible part of our job, we must remember that even the smallest parts of our day can reflect who God is, or conversely, who he is not. Make no mistake that it will be a daily choice, because we will always fall short of God’s glory. But we should strive to remember that as God’s image bearers, our conscious choices can make a difference in spreading the Gospel. In other words, as John Piper says, “…we should be busy understanding and shaping and designing and using God’s creation in a way that calls attention to his worth and wakens worship.” 

So how do we “waken worship” in our veterinary practices? What can we do that will inspire others to draw closer to the Lord and see the beauty of his creation? It sounds more daunting than it really is when you consider every piece of your day, and every working part of your practice. It is our job to take what God has made and use it to glorify him. So as veterinarians and image-bearers of the Lord, we should ensure that our surgical sites are clean, our treatments are up-to-date, our client education is top-notch, and our clinic floors are spotless. Our work needs to be purposeful and our actions need to be deliberate. Only through conscious effort to produce quality work will we reflect God.

Some of these suggestions may feel like “the little things”, but they can make all the difference in how others view your practice, and how you will be set apart as a follower of Christ. If you are working to the Lord’s glory, your high-quality work will be evident to others. I like what it says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The honor of being in God’s image is that we must reflect who he really is. And this means making him look great in all circumstances (and all creatures), great and small.

If we do make an effort to reflect God’s glory through our practices and our daily choices, we will rest easy at the end of the day. Essentially, if you know that you have worked for the Lord, you will have peace with your decisions when the day is done. The satisfaction of high-quality work is something that allows a person to feel confident, assured, and frankly, not lose sleep at night. As it says in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Amen to that.

The answer to our workplace joy all comes back to Jesus. He is the sole reason we can have joy through our work in spite of being fallen sinners. And when we remember that fact, every single hour we are working to his glory will allow us to boast in only one thing: the cross. Galatians 6:14 summarizes this concept well, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” I pray that we all strive to live as little reflections of God’s goodness in every community where we serve. When I think about the distribution of veterinarians across even just the US, I realize that together, we can be an amazing witness. Next week, we will explore this concept further, and discuss how our work can adorn the Gospel, and enhance its ability to be spread in our own communities.

 

Dr. Cheeks is raising deputation as the North Central Regional Representative for CVM. She is based out of Madison, Wisconsin but works in 9 states, including 9 vet schools. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, running, hiking with her dog, tending her garden, cooking, and knitting. Find out how you can support her ministry here: www.cvmusa.org/cheeks

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Fellowship: Honoring Christ in the Workplace

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praying handsBy Dr. Melissa Cheeks

Last week, we introduced a series called “Christ’s Place in the Workplace”. Where will we begin to talk about workplace ministry? Come with me to the foot of the cross. The first place that we can bring Christ into the workplace is through our fellowship with Him. As John Piper says, we can “make much of him in fellowship.”

As believers, we must learn to enjoy God’s presence, wherever we are. The more He is at the forefront of our minds, the more He can work through us. Since our workday comprises the bulk of our time awake, ignoring the Lord at work means that we are missing out on many hours of opportunity to know Him better. And as we all know, drawing close to the Lord is all he really asks of us. As it says in James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

Enjoy his presence

What better way to spend time with God than to rejoice that He is with us?

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

My pastor once encouraged us to read through a Psalm every day in order to practice praising God through worship. Through this exercise, I came to find a new favorite, Psalm 8:

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I like how it celebrates God’s majesty, his sovereignty, and reminds me how small we are as part of his creation. But it also reminds me how He set us apart in his image, and that we are tasked with taking care of his creation. What a real blessing, and a gift for the veterinary profession in particular.

I’ve heard several veterinarians over the years talk about enjoying God’s presence. There is a vet clinic that has a “prayer request” box on one of their bulletin boards, and clients have come to know that it is a place of solace and their veterinarian will pray for them. In fact, the staff of that clinic prays together each morning before starting appointments. Maybe your clinic isn’t openly Christian, or isn’t Christian at all. I’ve known groups of techs that pray together, in groups of two or three. They pray for their co-workers and for their clinic. When I was in practice, I’d  pray in my office. You better believe I’d also pray when I was confronted with a difficult client or an unusual case.

I like John Piper’s perspective, when he says: “Christians do not just go to work. They go to work “with God.” They do not just do a job. They do their job “with God.” God is with them.”

We really need to stop ignoring the guy that is with us through every joy and trial. Start talking to God at work, and you’ll wonder how you ever got through the day without it.

Be thankful

God is the giver of all things. He put you in this practice for a reason. Maybe you will be in this community for many years, or maybe this is a transitional place that will capture you for a year or two. Either way, it isn’t an accident that the Lord put you where you are. So thank him for his provision, for your co-workers, and for your clients. Thank him for your talents and your skills.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” (Psalm 40:5)

Being thankful is another act that is seemingly easy, but takes conscious effort on a daily basis. It’s hard to be thankful in the midst of stress, angry clients, and triple booked appointments. It has helped me immensely to write out five things I am thankful for each morning. To take it another step further, it’s even more helpful to have an accountability partner for my gratitude list. My friend and I email them to one another each morning, and knowing that she is waiting for my list helps me to actually follow through. I have known others that write one thing they are thankful for on a slip of paper each morning, and toss it into a jar. At the end of the year, you can then sort through all the wonderful things that God has done in your life. It keeps things in perspective, and it forces you to be thankful for the small stuff, too.

He is in charge

Life in a veterinary clinic is messy, both literally and figuratively. The hours are long, the clients are angry, and each day is an emotional roller coaster. Veterinary professionals tend to be driven and independent people who rely on themselves too often. In the times of trial, remember who is in charge. Jeremiah 32:27 says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” The Lord gives strength to the weary and casts our anxiety aside. He wants us to talk to him and to share our struggles. We are not meant to bear these burdens alone. In fact, we are meant to cast them upon the shoulders of Jesus Christ, who was perfectly willing to relieve all of the burdens of humanity.

As it says in Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” 

Put conscious effort into workplace fellowship with God this week, and share with us (via the comment button below) how things are changing in your workplace, or just in your own attitude at work. Next week, we will explore how we were made in God’s image, and that by reflecting this design, we glorify him.

 

Dr. Cheeks is raising deputation as the North Central Regional Representative for CVM. She is based out of Madison, Wisconsin but works in 9 states, including 9 vet schools. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, running, hiking with her dog, tending her garden, cooking, and knitting. Find out how you can support her ministry here: www.cvmusa.org/cheeks

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Abounding Love // Forbearing

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By: Dr. Wendell Cantrell
Welcome to our fourth issue on Abounding Love based on Philippians 1:9. Today, we will look at one of the more difficult tasks that this type of love requires from servants of the Lord. We are going to dig into the idea of forbearance, or “bearing with” one another. The Greek word anechomai means to endure, to put up with, or to suffer. It is used 17 times in the New Testament. NASB calls it “showing tolerance for” and NLT translates it as “making allowances for each other’s faults. The frequent usage indicates that this is a critical virtue that is invaluable in maintaining teamwork in our ministry partnerships. If you read to the end of the last devotional, you read a quaint little saying that I used as a lead-in for this topic that so defines the need for this type of love. The author clearly contrasts our heavenly hope with daily reality.

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