Friday, 31 July 2015

The Value of Fellowship

- Stephanie Potter

Across the country CMDS members have been coming together to discuss how the current changes to  federal law and college policy affects their practice and their ability to act according to their conscience. While these are difficult circumstances, it is hard to ignore the many positives these meetings are bringing to our members. It is easy to get lost in the worries and cares of our day to day lives. It is easy to become isolated in our concerns and forget to reach out and find a community of like-minded individuals with whom we can find fellowship and support.

At one of the local CMDS meetings this week, we had the privilege of having Doctors and allies come in person to share a meal. Each of us shared a short witness of our life and faith journey over a delicious meal lovingly prepared by our hostess. We were encouraged to share about the moment of our conversion, jokingly nicknamed our "TSN Turning Point", when we fully gave our hearts to God. Each story was similar and yet unique. For one married couple and their son, the stories intertwined in a beautiful tapestry, showing clearly the glory of God's plans. It was an evening of powerful re-affirmation of our faith and our mission to be Christ to one another and the world.

After our meal we had a lively and insightful discussion about current events and had the pleasure of being joined via FaceTime and telephone by two Doctors who couldn't join us in person from our Province. It was wonderful how technology had increased our little community so that we could share in fellowship and discussion with them. At the end of our chat, one of the Doctors remarked that she had missed the community she had felt in her med school days through her CMDS chapter. Our meeting had given us a chance to make an important contact with her and plans were made for visits, meals shared, and continued contact. 

If we accomplish nothing else in these days, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit has been with us in our communities across Canada. We are reminded again the value of fellowship. The early Church was built up of small communities dedicated to encouraging one another, sharing a meal, and praising all that God had done for them. Let us remember to reach out to our brothers and sisters to draw them into our company to reflect on Christ's promise: "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matt 18:20)

Monday, 20 July 2015

Love Selflessly

- Karen Chung
Karen is a fourth year medical student from Queen’s Medical School, prior co-chair of CMDS. She has been involved for all four years. God has given her a heart for Africa, miraculous experiences in Ghana and Ethiopia and leadership opportunities to serve the poor in Hamilton and Kingston. He has given her a passion for plastic surgery and global health.

I have started my final year of medical school at Queen's University and would like to share the lessons I have learned. The intended audience of this piece is for my brothers and sisters starting medical school. It is my whole-hearted prayer that God will use these three (or four) years to bring Him as much glory as He created you for. There is no other wish.


Dear God, I commit this piece to you. I pray that I will write the words that You want me to share and I pray that you open hearts to receive the words You would like shared.

Prayer is powerful.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

We are righteous because of Jesus Christ.

In my second year, I had a dream. I had just finished reading Heidi Baker and had the repeated, recurrent dream of seeing the Acts 4 church come true. I longed to see medical students, professionals, undergraduate students, homeless people and drug abusers eat together, giving and sharing as there was need. I told this dream to as many people as I could from multiple groups: Geneva House, Morning Prayer Group, Joel’s Bible Study, Bethel Church and prayed. God gave me a heart to listen and to obey Him. On my birthday, God did a miracle. He made this dream come true. See the article of the actual event and here for the Facebook page as God answered prayer. 

Location: Martha’s Table, a local soup kitchen happily agreed to host the event.

Food: Metro, No Frills donated funds for food.

Doctors (in and out of CMDS) donated funds for food. Betty’s Byre and her sister a local Kingston Farmers Market donated fresh veggies and apples, lots of beautiful apples. 

Service: A Christian brother from Queen’s Acapella group, heard about it and volunteered this group to perform there. My Queen’s Medicine classmates and my brothers and sisters from CMDS, Geneva House, Morning Prayer Group, Joel’s Bible Study, Bethel Church came to volunteer: clean dishes, cook food and serve the homeless.

Chefs: Chef Luke Hayes-Alexander, one of the youngest and most innovative chefs in Kingston designed and volunteered his time to make the appetizer. Chef Clark Day, the head chef of Aquaterra, one of the finest restaurants in Kingston donated food and designed and volunteered his time to make the main course and dessert

My God worked in the details. Here’s a quick snap shot:

I woke up on a Saturday feeling so sick and incredibly nauseous. I felt God pushing me to go to the Kingston market place and ask for a donation. On my walk there, I was relying completely on His strength and I made a plan: “Okay God, I’m walking. I’m going to ask for a donation. If they say no, I’ll ask for a discount. If they say no, I’ll just buy it all and worry about the money later. I give it all to you.” I walked up to Betty’s Byer and I told her about this dream.

“How much do you want?”

I was blown away. We needed apples for dessert and Chef Clark Day was thinking of doing an apple crumble because it’s very easy (core the apple, put in oatmeal, sugar, bake and serve with vanilla ice-cream). I went to pick up the apples from Betty:

“Karen, I picked out the most beautiful apples for you. These are the best of the best, with no bruises or blemishes.”

Over 140 apples were donated. These apples were free.

Get involved

Make friends outside of CMDS, get involved in Christian communities outside of medicine. Get involved in the community. Live as though each day is your last.

My Christian family nourished me so I could serve my classmates and patients. They prayed for my friends, for my patients. They prayed for me when I was sick. They brought me coffee, snacks, and love when I was studying. They wrote me cards of encouragement. They were the family I could call at four in the morning.

We worked together to serve our Kingston community. We visited strip clubs with food. We had bi-weekly cooking sessions for the HIV/AIDS regional service just before our prayer meetings. We are in the middle of raising $15,000 to build a kitchen for the HIV/AIDS nutrition program in Kingston. We walked around the community offering prayer and food to the homeless. We held surprise birthday parties for each other.

God gave me friends in my medical class who were so beautiful, inside and out. I love them and He loves them more. I continue to commit these friends to God and pray that I exemplify who He wants me to be. These friends see my actions and words, and they know I am a human who has been given a heart for Jesus. It is my hope and prayer that one day they will come to Christ. I pray in Jesus’ name, that my speech will be full of grace and seasoned with salt.

Deny yourself

You and God know the sins that are holding you back from truly denying yourself to live as Christ did. Reflect on them. Then, share these sins with those close to you and to confess and repent from them in prayer. Please ask God to banish all the spiritual demons and thoughts that are not from Him.  Ask your brothers and sisters to hold you accountable.

There is absolutely NOTHING that is more worthwhile than living for God. When you are tired and serving patients and no one wants to take call on the long weekend, it is my prayer that you would take the spot. When you are tired and you’ve been asked to see one more patient, it is my prayer that you will cry out to God, beg Him for strength and thank Him for the opportunity to keep serving. Then document this story and share it on this blog.

You will be tempted. Know that God has given you victory to overcome it. Make a list of acts of service you can do when you’re tempted. Pray for others, document your testimonies, study for what you’re passionate about, go outside and be a Christ-centered example to your friends, worship God, cook for others – the list is endless.

Connect with me on twitter @loveselflessly

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Fond Farewell from Paul Verhoef

Editor: In preparation for our upcoming issues of FOCUS Magazine, we asked our friend Paul Verhoef, who is leaving his work with CMDS this season, to send us some information on his time with CMDS and what his plans were. He sent us this beautiful piece. We ended up having to reduce the size of his piece dramatically, but felt that his words had some wisdom and power that everyone should have the chance to read. Thank you, Paul, for sharing your words with us and for your time serving the students at University of Calgary Medical School.

With Gratitude

Dear friends of Jesus,
My name is Paul Verhoef.  For almost two and a half years, I’ve been serving as the CMDS Associate Staff person for the University of Calgary Medical School.  But now my time is finishing; I’m being called away from this work so that I can more deeply invest in my primary work.

For 11 years, I’ve served as a Chaplain at the University of Calgary, supported by the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).  And over those 11 years, I have been blessed to be invited in a myriad of ways to support the life of the University.  While I work with students and student groups, and organize programs and gatherings, the CRC has always asked me to first and foremost be present with the University itself, to watch the movements, to feel the blowing of the Spirit, and to fan into flame any possibilities that are uniquely available to me as a Chaplain (some campus ministries focus fully on students and programming – certainly to God’s glory; chaplains also tend to think about the University as an institution, about its ‘soul’ and how it might be shaped by God’s presence, love, and wisdom).

And there is a conversation growing at the University of Calgary – a conversation about how the individual and the collective can interact in the public sphere, a conversation around pluralism, multi-culturalism and secular society, a conversation about the varied rootedness of communities and creating an imagination of partnership towards a common good.  At my university, strangely perhaps, the questions guiding that conversation are not happening mostly in the classroom, but instead are being asked around the hallways of student services.  And my department, the Faith & Spirituality Centre, is the key catalyzer of that pluralism dialogue.  So the door for me to participate in the instigation, shaping, and direction of the conversation on pluralism (starting with religious pluralism) is clearly open.  And the CRC has said to me, “It’s for such a time as this that we have called you to the University of Calgary.”  So for the next year, I will be more intensely focusing on how the University of Calgary might be a hospitable place to many people who bring with them their deeply rooted religious conviction and behaviours.  I’ll be going to in reading groups, classrooms, conferences.  I’ll be collaboratively creating workshops and student engagement opportunities.  That is my call.

You might hear in all of this something parallel to your own work and practice.  As Canada has dialogued around abortion, and more recently been discussing euthanasia, the CMDS community itself has been pulled into the conversation.  And that conversation has taken place in classrooms, in courtrooms, and many places in between.  And so as I step more deeply into a parallel conversation at the University of Calgary, I am thankful that during my time with CMDS, many of these similar questions were percolating, and indeed, even boiling over at times.  The posture of CMDS in the midst of that fertile conversation have been a gift for me to observe.

But as I depart, let me mention just a few more things about CMDS Student Ministries that have been a surprising gift.  I love how the ministry has such a national, regional, and local flavour.  CMDS has a national conference, a national student leadership gathering, a regional retreat, and all sorts of local activity.  But all through these levels, students are invited to rub shoulders with Physicians – who hold in them years of experience and practical wisdom, who have lived through some of the questions the students are anticipating or asking.

But it is really the people that make CMDS such a good gift.  Wonderful physicians who host meals or mentor students – like David and Andrea Loewen in Calgary.  Gifted colleagues around the country doing student ministry with medical students – like Roger and Munjula, Barbara and Yaw, and so many others.  And leaders like Larry Worthen, faithful to the task, to the community, and to our God.  And it draws students in that are hospitable and prayerful, rooted and wise – and willing to step forward into a future where God is King and where His people are known for their love.

So good to be connected to you, in Christ,
Paul Verhoef 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Mission Opportunity for Dental Professionals: Mercy Ships

Our friends at Mercy Ships is looking for people to join them on a mission trip to Madagascar this August! Information can be found below. Please discern is the Lord is calling you on this important mission!

The Mercy Ships Dental team recently finished up their services at the end of May having provided 6,290 dental patient encounters with over 22,000 procedures.The Africa Mercy will return to Madagascar in August and dock for ten months where the Dental Team will pick up where they left off at the renovated off ship dental clinic. 

We have needs for Dentists, Dental Assistants, and Dental Hygienists throughout the service. Information and online application available online.

Your mouth is really important in your daily life. My time with Mercy Ships has really opened my eyes to the need that is out there, and the desperation that some people will have to relieve their pain and to get treatment,says Mercy Ships volunteerSwedish dentist Vera Alstad. She knows that lack of affordability and lack of access to oral healthcare and education leave a trail of pain-filled mouths. She has seen the consequences firsthand as she served with Mercy Ships in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea, Congo, and Madagascar. To read more of her powerful witness, go visit the Mercy Ships Website.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Not Lukewarm in Encouragement

- Lester Liao

Let me tell you about my friend, Hao Li.  He is the greatest encouragement to me of all my fellow medical students.  Why?  Because I have seen the Spirit of God in his life; life-giving and soul-transforming grace at its finest.  And it is just about the most invigorating and wonderful a thing that can be seen.

Hao was not a Christian when he entered medical school.  If you asked him, though, he would have said he was a Christian.  He now vehemently denies he ever truly knew Christ upon entering.  In fact, he identifies himself even as an impediment to the Gospel in his earlier days.  When I first presented the student club CMDS and took it as an opportunity to briefly share the Gospel with my class, Hao spoke to me afterwards and stated that I should not talk about matters like sin in a public forum.  In my mind I thought, “Whatever, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”  Only a few months later God rebuked and humbled me for this attitude.

God was at work in Hao’s heart.  Despite what he would call a lukewarm heart to God, Hao would come to our regular CMDS meetings and we would discuss at length the Christian life.  One evening we watched a sermon by Francis Chan called “Lukewarm and Loving It” and discussed amongst ourselves what genuine faith entailed.  I do not recall Hao saying too much that evening.  Little did I know then that he went home that night, got on his knees and begged God to forgive him for his lukewarm heart and to really be Lord of his life. 

The change in Hao’s life has been stark.  He now speaks about Christ with a boldness reminiscent of the rejoicing apostles leaving the Sanhedrin after a flogging (Acts 5:40-41) and challenges me to consider my own lukewarmness.  Between lectures, he engages in all manner of spiritual dialogue with classmates.  His dedication to his church has drastically changed and he has a true passion to eradicate the plague of lukewarm faith.  He is hungry to soak up the Word with a rare humility and willingness.  He questions every facet of his life in terms of whether it is built on the solid rock of Christ and His Word.  Now he is even involved in leading our local CMDS chapter. 

Hao is such an encouragement to me I often cannot express it very clearly.  Often times when I see him or after our conversations, I will just pray and thank God without words.  What a brother the Lord has raised up and what a comrade he has been on this spiritual battlefield!

I share this story firstly because I want to encourage others with Hao’s encouragement to me.  I also share this because there are others like Hao, who have yet to experience such transformation by God.  He has appointed His people to go out and spread His Word to bring many in medicine to Himself.  What if we all began to pray regularly for one or two of our colleagues and asked God for boldness to speak to them about Christ?  What if we committed this truly to the Lord?  We have friends out there that may not have a single other person in the world earnestly praying for them.  Consider Augustine’s words about his mother. 

You sent down your help from above and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son. (Augustine, Confessions III.11.)

May those we love around us say a similar thing of us one day.

Monday, 20 April 2015

On Pain

- Christopher Wang, 2nd Year Medical School Student, University of Toronto

As second year medical students at U of T, we participated in a large, interdisciplinary event called “Pain Week”. While the title seemed rather gruesome at first, it turned out to be a great opportunity to interact with students from various disciplines (pharmacy, nursing, OT, PT…) in order to tackle the important health problem that is chronic pain. As the week progressed, I soon realized that patients’ belief systems often play an important role in how they experience, and therefore cope with, pain. So, throughout the week, I spent a lot of time thinking about how Christianity can bring meaning, and possibly even relief, in the midst of pain. Here are some of my thoughts.

C.S Lewis wrote in his book (conveniently titled “The Problem of Pain”) that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” And indeed, it is unfortunate that, all too often, we turn to God in moments of brokenness but forget about Him in moments of restoration. But to use that as a justification for the immense pain that our patients go through is also, I believe, unfair. Furthermore, if pain is the best way to point people to God, then isn’t our job as healers counterproductive? While I definitely do not have all the answers to these questions, allow me to share 3 steps that have helped me resolve these competing interests as a Christian medical student.
  1. First, I found out that I needed to rediscover what it feels like to be in pain. The medical education system had such a focus on teaching me how to heal that I forgot what it felt like to be broken. I needed to become comfortable around vulnerability again, which I soon realized was something much easier said than done.
  2. The next step, I recognized, was accepting that I could never fully understand the pain that other people were going through. We talk a lot about empathy in class but I firmly believe that empathy is overemphasized in the medical curriculum (perhaps the topic of another blog post). In many circumstances, it is simply impossible to fully understand the pain our patients are going through. It is only by coming to this realization that I was able to set the stage for the final and most important step in dealing with the problem of pain.
  3. As Christians, we believe that though we can never fully understand the pain that another person is going through, we have someone who does. Hebrews 4:15-16 reads “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.” While not all of our patients will appreciate the comfort that this truth provides, it does not make it any less true. We must acknowledge their suffering, but also be ready when the time is right to direct them towards true restoration. In the meantime, I have found this verse to be incredibly helpful in my own journey through medicine. It has allowed me to look into the eyes of the suffering and see not only pain, but also perseverance, strength and even a subtle hint of hope. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

“It would be as much complicit in the action as actually doing it”

The National Post wrote an article last month on the effect decriminalizing physician assisted suicide would have on physicians who are morally opposed to the practice of euthanasia, 

“This is a question of whether people who have certain creeds or religious beliefs should be protected in law from the desire of a regulator to basically drive us out of the practice of medicine,” says Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society, which represents more than 1,500 doctors across Canada. “We’re simply saying there’s certain procedures we cannot participate in because of conscience and religious freedom. That’s in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
For their part, some physicians may have already had enough. Mr. Worthen said he knows of several doctors who plan to retire early in order to avoid having to carry out procedures that conflict with their beliefs.
Others are pouring their concerns onto the college’s online forum.
“Faced with a request for assisted suicide from a patient, I would be required, by this college policy, to refer them to a physician who is ‘non-objecting, available and accessible’ to facilitate the assisted suicide. This in conscience I could not do,” wrote one doctor on Jan. 23.
“It would be as much complicit in the action as actually doing it,” wrote another on Jan. 5.

Friday, 20 February 2015

‘This is moral genocide’


CMDS’s Worthen is sure that the new policy does something new—it requires doctors to co-operate with actions Christians consider immoral—and that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  He told LifeSiteNews, “The Charter protects individuals from the state and the College of Physicians and Surgeons is an arm of the state.”
What is more, said Worthen, last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision in the Carter case permitting assisted suicide contained specific directions from the judges ordering lawmakers to protect the freedom of consciences of doctors unwilling to assist suicides. 
Read the full article:

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What happens to doctors who refuse to help kill their patients?

"The ruling is clear that doctors cannot be compelled to help people die. But the court acknowledges that legislators and medical regulators will have to find a way to reconcile the rights of patients and physicians in response to the judgment. 
'There is an issue that remains,' said Paula Rochman, a lawyer who works with Dying With Dignity. 'Do you have a duty to refer the patient to somebody else?' 
That question could be left to the self-regulating professional colleges that govern physician behaviour in every province. Some – but not all – already have broad policies that require doctors to provide referrals if they refuse to provide a legal medical service on religious or moral grounds." 

Friday, 6 February 2015

"Euthanizing God? Theism and conscientious objection to physician-assisted death"

From written by Ewan C Goligher and Stephen W Hwang,

Physicians and healthcare institutions committed to theistic belief systems therefore face an important challenge: is it reasonable to base conscientious objection to physician-assisted death upon belief in God? This question has become critical in light of recent proposals to curtail physician autonomy and conscience rights in Ontario by requiring physicians to make referrals for procedures in violation of their ethical commitments. We argue that it is eminently reasonable to base such objections on belief in God, because theism is a rationally defensible belief system that provides coherent grounds for upholding the ethical values central to this debate, namely human autonomy, well-being and the incalculable worth of human life. (Read the full article at:

Monday, 26 January 2015


Join the conversation on Twitter. Use the hashtag, #MDsHaveRights2 to take about conscience protection in Canada. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

"Do you want a doctor with moral integrity?"

Our doctors maintain professionalrespectful and compassionate relationships with their patients. This includes accompanying patients as they make difficult choices, understanding fully that the final decision is always the patient’s. 

Our doctors simply ask that they be respected as professionals in return. 

Forcing doctors to violate their moral integrity is not only damaging to the doctor, but to the patient and to medical services as a whole. 

It will inevitably mean that many doctors will be forced to leave patient care, leaving Canadians with less access to the medical care they want and need.  

The choice is yours. Will you tell the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) what you think about conscience rights?

The deadline for comments is: Feb 20, 2015  

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) have a draft policy that would demand that doctors participate in morally controversial procedures like birth control, abortion and even euthanasia (if it becomes legal). Participation means making referrals and actually performing these procedures when the regulator (CPSO) considers them to be “urgent or otherwise necessary to prevent imminent harm, suffering, and/or deterioration.” This as a very broad requirement and will be open to abuse. Doctors who cannot participate due to deeply held moral or religious commitments will be vulnerable to punishment from the regulator, even though their fundamental freedom of conscience and religion is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This is a form of discrimination. 

If you are not already receiving CMDS updates and want to find out more about this issue:  

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Honesty in Medicine

-Jennifer Derwey

Would legislation that requires doctors to conceal information or conceal their professional and morally based opinions be in the best interest of the doctor patient relationship? Consider this from Dr. James F. Drane, Professor Emeritus, University of Edinboro Pennsylvania:

Not telling the truth in the doctor-patient relationship requires special attention because patients today, more than ever, experience serious harm if they are lied to. Not only is patient autonomy undermined but patients who are not told the truth about an intervention experience a loss of that all important trust which is required for healing. Honesty matters to patients. They need it because they are ill, vulnerable, and burdened with pressing questions which require truthful answers. 
Read the full paper here: