Church Army Evangelist Louise Yaull is based in three GP practices across Sheffield
I spent 20 years working as a registered nurse in the NHS prior to my training as an evangelist. My desire is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the many hurting people who come to their GP looking for help with their physical, emotional and spiritual problems.
I hope that offering spiritual care alongside the rest of the healthcare team will enable people to receive ‘whole person’ healthcare.
Around 99% of people in Sheffield visit their local GP, compared to 6% who go to church. There is an opportunity in Community Chaplaincy to provide a safe place to listen to the stories of hurting people, and help them to encounter the love of God as he brings new purpose and healing into their lives.
On average, people live 12 years longer in the two wealthier areas of two of the GP practices than the more deprived inner city area of the third GP practice.
This brings different challenges to the chaplaincy role, eg relationship breakdown, bereavement, chronic health problems, depression and loneliness.
I usually see patients in the GP practice, or in their home on a one-to-one basis, for up to two hours. I have also started a weekly 'Sacred Space' session in one of the GP practices, alongside a small group of Christian volunteers, where patients can drop in to quietly reflect and pray.
I continue to work alongside local churches, and several of the patients have started going to different church activities such as Alpha groups and bereavement drop-ins as a result of this. I take funerals of former patients, and have worked alongside the diocesan exorcist on a few occasions when there have been reports of paranormal activity in the homes of patients.
The need to provide spiritual care as part of whole person healthcare has long been recognised in the nursing, medical and other healthcare professions. However, traditional medical approaches often struggle to incorporate the spiritual dimension into the healing process, which is where I come in!
There are wonderful opportunities to offer longer-term pastoral and spiritual support to patients in the community. There is also the privilege in having the opportunity to have contact with people who would not normally come to church, and give them the chance to encounter the love of God.
I think that one of my patients puts it into perspective: “God is using Louise's ministry to touch the parts that medicine alone cannot touch – to misquote an old lager advert. Well, in that case: who else is for a pint? Because it's God’s round – he's already paid for it – and there are so many out there thirsty for the same hope. The pints are all lined up and ready.”
"It felt like a totally new departure: to go to the doctor and be offered something so positive instead of just having my self-diagnosis confirmed as 'sick'. It boosted my self-esteem to be offered this level of spiritual help, rather than just anti-depressants.
“I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that I was considered worthy of these sessions, which are more than just sharing and receiving. I felt for the first time that I was not just a patient, and that wholeness was a possibility. I felt I was given permission to heal.
“It is difficult to describe the inner freedom I have gained. I have also been given the courage and confidence to make life changes.”
Do you feel inspired by God to support Louise in prayer and finance?
If you would like further information, please contact Church Army on 0300 123 2113 and ask for supporter development, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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