Monday, April 11, 2016

Supporting Integration of Science & Faith II

While scientific research develops strategies to advance medical health, no advancement would take place without the application and instruction of the new strategy.  By this, I mean that health professionals need to use the new development in practice, but also must be able to explain what is happening to their patient.  Patient interaction is a key component of this advancement, especially in intercultural situations in order to advance healthcare throughout the world.

Honors Day with Chandra Swiech (c) and Kaytlin Goodwin (r)
This statement summarizes the thesis of a science-faith integration paper presented to the Cedarville University Science and Mathematics Department by Chandra Swiech, 2016 recipient of The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship (SFIS).  Abby and I were privileged to have lunch with Chandra after the April 5 Honors Day Chapel in which she was awarded the academic scholarship.  During lunch, Chandra explained that she believes God is calling her into a vocation that will fit her aptitudes, interests, and spiritual gifts.  Specifically, she believes that God is calling her into the field of medicine. 

Since her enrollment in Human Structure and Function, a year-long biology course, Chandra has been fascinated with the form and function of the major systems of the human body.  But she is also beginning to understand that serving Christ in medicine goes much beyond learning about the human body, as important at that is.  Indeed, as Chandra now sees it, advances in scientific research that have relevance to human health have limited value unless careful attention is given to clinical applications.  Chandra explains with an example: …there are people throughout the entire world dealing with cystic fibrosis and the supplemental biofilm formation.  If an antibiotic was found to combat it, it is important to be able to explain this to patients, other doctors here, and other doctors around the world.  She adds that doctors have a responsibility not only to prescribe drugs to make their patients feel better, but to help the patient make life changes.  This is normally thought of in the physical realm, but it is also involves the spiritual realm.

We were excited to hear Chandra’s perspective on medicine in the context of the “whole person.”  She is learning to view human health holistically.  She believes that “human health” involves not only health of the body, but also of the mind and spirit.   According to her view, helping others improve their quality of life through medicine is a unique opportunity to pour into their lives spiritually as well as physicallyChandra anticipates that she might play an interdisciplinary role by helping insure that new medical breakthroughs are properly integrated into medical practices.  She is concerned that doctors and other health care professionals are sufficiently informed as to how best to use new medications and procedures for the benefit of their patients with attention to both physical and spiritual well being.

Chandra (center) teaching in a soccer camp, Costa Rica
Chandra also explains in her integration paper that she is developing a cross-cultural perspective on ministry to human needs.  Short-term mission experiences in Spain and in Costa Rica have taught her the importance of listening, and intentionally talking with others.  Shandra has been learning these social skills in part as a member of the Cedarville University Yellow Jacket women’s intercollegiate soccer team.  Regarding an experience when her soccer team participated on a short-term mission ministry in Costa Rica, she writes: …my host family demonstrated to me the importance of being considerate of cultural boundaries while not being afraid to reach out to others.

Finally, Chandra is learning to be attentive to the fact that God can use health care professionals in ministries to the millions of people who are displaced or migrating across our borders.  She writes that …opportunities for intercultural interaction are also waiting in our own backyard.  Given the number of immigrants and refugees entering the United States, there is a unique opportunity for medicine to be used to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

An Invitation to You:
Abby and I are excited about the interdisciplinary perspective that Chandra Swiech is developing, and we pray that God will continue to develop her profession of both faith and science.  Maybe you too have been encouraged by this example of how God is using The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship to foster the heritage of science-faith integration through the Department of Science and Mathematics at Cedarville University.  If so, then why not become a fellow investor? Perhaps you gratefully attribute your own profession of faith and of science to the teaching and mentoring of department and university faculty during your days at Cedarville. If so, we invite you to pray about how you might participate.  If God leads you to invest in this way, you may send your check to Cedarville University with “Science and Faith Integration Scholarship” on the memo line.  Or, you may contribute online at Just click on “Scholarships” and follow directions to “The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship.” Thank you for considering how you can steward a portion of God’s blessings to you by honoring your faculty mentors and by encouraging leaders for tomorrow.

Related Article:  Supporting Integration of Science & Faith