This is a report on the NCFI European Conference published on the blog of the Christian Medical Fellowship of the British Isles:


A Christian vision for nursing – a report from the NCFI Europe conference

In September, 100 Christian nurses from 15 European nations, (and three non-European ones) gathered in Madrid to look at the Christian vision of whole person nursing. This was the Ninth European Regional Conference of Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI)

Europe is a very diverse region, and we enjoyed sharing in each other’s national costumes, music, food, and learning about our different experiences as nurses. Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe each have very different challenges for both nurses and Christian believers. In the East it is the challenge (and the very real economic and practical cost) of acting as a Christian with integrity where bribery is often the only way to supplement poor wages. In the North, it is how to be distinctively and authentically Christian as a nurse when the wider secular nursing culture still works broadly to Christian values of compassion and integrity. In the South, it is hard to be an evangelical believer without being seen as part of a distrusted sect. Nurses are generally highly respected, autonomous professionals in the West, but often regarded as little more than medical ancillaries in the East. However, despite our diversity, we experienced a great sense of unity and fellowship.

We also enjoyed the challenges of working in two languages – English and Spanish. It is a challenge to work bi-linguallly, and it was not a smooth ride (especially for our two lovely, Godly, but overworked translators!), but well worth the effort. The small Spanish organising committee worked incredibly hard and with huge professionalism – ‘making bricks with straw’!

The Plenaries in English gave us a great overview of the history, current context and future challenges facing the profession, while the Spanish Bible Talks (by Fernando Ramos – a pastor and nephrology nurse from Bilbao) explored what the book of Daniel can teach us about the challenges of holding on to our faith in a non-Christian and changing cultural environment – the reality across Europe for all believers.

All the talks and papers (in English and Spanish) are being shared on the GECE (NCF Spain) blogemergencia vital.

Conference centre

A beautiful location for the conference

In addition to the national diversity we also saw a great spread of ages, from students in their late teens and early twenties to our oldest delegate who celebrated her 79th birthday during the conference! Having been at all nine NCFI European Regional Conferences, and it was a great privilege to have her with us to remind us of the need to connect with our history in order to understand our present and future (a theme that Sonya Grimpa of Trinity and Western University in Canada explored in her opening plenary). One challenge for NCFI is how we engage with this ‘Golden Generation’ in order to both support and encourage them, and also to share their learning, experience and wisdom with the upcoming generations.

The NCFI Next Generation was well-represented by over a dozen recently qualified and student nurses. This is a new ministry and network developing within NCFI. During the conference they had an international prayer meeting via Google Hangouts one afternoon, drawing in other junior nurses from across the globe.

Delegates networking

Delegates networking

The big challenge for NCFI-NG is that they are now growing from a group of five scattered across the globe to a wider group, not all of whom use English as a common language.

It is always a huge privilege to work with such a diversity of nurses, serving so faithfully in clinical practice and academia and from the most junior student to the most senior nurses in their field, but all owning one Lord and Saviour who unites us across barriers of language, culture, class and professional hierarchy!