by Clem Boyd, Former Managing Editor
When Stephen Sandlund ’05, M.S.N. ’13 treats injured, traumatized, or sick patients in hospitals around the globe, he is constantly aware of how the Great Physician wants to work in the midst of his service.
As Denise Martin ’87 serves her young patients and their families at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, she invites future nurses from Cedarville’s School of Nursing to observe and learn how their careers can have eternal significance.
Over the course of 20 years, Lois Baker, Senior Professor Emerita of Nursing, tirelessly led teams of nursing students to Togo not only to care for physical needs, but to see patients’ lives transformed through using nursing as a ministry for Christ.
These stories represent hundreds of sacrificial servants who are graduates and faculty of the Cedarville School of Nursing.
Faithful on the Frontline
Stephen Sandlund ’05, M.S.N. ’13 serves as a nurse practitioner with his dad’s family practice office and in the emergency room at Genesis Hospital, both in Zanesville, Ohio. While he regularly goes the extra mile to serve his patients, he also goes the extra thousands of miles to treat the shell-shocked, the wounded, and the seriously ill as part of a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief team.
This summer, he spent a month in Chernivtsi, a city in western Ukraine, serving refugees running from the horrors of war and treating locals with long-term healthcare needs.
“Quite a few of the refugees were just stoic,” Sandlund shared. “But as you began treating them, they warmed up to you and told stories about how they ran from their homes and only took a suitcase of clothes, how they drove through shelling and gun fights and almost got shot themselves.”
One patient who lived close to the Russian border shared with Sandlund that she had been taken from Ukraine and her captors attempted to force her to switch her citizenship. She escaped and made the 10-day journey to the hospital in Chernivsti.
“She was frustrated and confused,” Sandlund said. “She could not understand why people who lived so close to Ukraine were now shooting at them and shelling them.”
This was not Sandlund’s first time with Samaritan’s Purse. He served previously in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019, where he was part of a team attempting to head off an outbreak of the Ebola virus, and in 2017, when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces retook the city of Mosul from the Islamic State.
“We were the only trauma hospital on the east side of Mosul, so we saw everything,” Sandlund recalled. “Shrapnel, amputations, lacerations, burns, gunshots. Even though we had good security, that was the most dangerous place I’ve been.”
And while one such trip might be enough for many, Sandlund senses the Lord drawing him to disaster relief in the future.
“Cedarville helped me form this outlook on the world,” he noted. “From a lot of the chapels I went to and throughout the Bible, we are called to lay down everything, to follow God above all comfort. I have good jobs and can make a decent income, but am I living out my faith and following God to the ends of the earth, reaching people in need who are spiritually open?”
Blessed to Invest
Nursing is a demanding profession. It requires a combination of care and compassion, strong problem-solving, a strong health science knowledge base, and the ability to respond quickly and confidently. The application of that heart, mind, soul, and spirit to the profession can be draining and challenging.
But Denise Martin ’87, who serves as a continuity of care coordinator and discharge planning nurse at Dayton Children’s Hospital and as an Adjunct Nursing Skills Lab Instructor at Cedarville, has also mentored countless Cedarville School of Nursing students, who have benefitted firsthand from her skill, devotion, and mentorship.
In addition to practicing as a Registered Nurse, Martin serves as a liaison between Cedarville’s School of Nursing and clinical sites in the community. In this role, she ensures the students’ clinical objectives are met at different hospitals.
Martin also coordinates the externship program at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Here she watches students put the pieces of clinical care and academic knowledge together to begin thinking like a nurse for the first time.
She sees them anticipate patient needs and show compassion as Christ did.
“I tell my students that my job is to help prepare them for professional practice and to set them up for success,” she said.
“Watching them care with compassion and advocate for their patients in the clinical setting is so rewarding.”
Martin invests in her students because of a higher calling.
“Nursing is the platform the Lord has entrusted to me to use as ministry,” she explained. “I love being able to walk alongside our students and graduates as they care for their patients, some at the most vulnerable times of their lives, and be able to encourage them.
“Having former students become my professional peers and watching them is both humbling and a blessing.”
Career for Christ
After Irene Alyn established the cross-cultural nursing minor, Lois Baker served as the coordinator for 20 years. She led Cedarville nursing students on missions trips to Togo to provide healthcare to the underprivileged. She went the extra mile in teaching every student the most important lesson of all: Nursing is a ministry for Christ.
“I saw Togolese patients transformed because students used nursing as ministry for Christ,” she said. “You go to Togo, and you see people who have so little, and we have so much. It really embeds in your mind how you have this opportunity to give to those in need. Yet, we have this incredible multicultural population in America. You don’t have to just go to a foreign country to use nursing as a ministry for Christ.”
According to Baker, students were prepared to arrive in Togo and immediately begin serving.
“The missionary staff are tired; our students were not just to look and observe,” she said. “They knew how to give medicines, start an IV, and help in surgery. They were prepared to get dressed, get their shoes on, and get right in the middle of everything.”
Before traveling to Africa, students were taught about common diseases, such as malaria and typhoid, that are not typically found in the United States; about culture, such as not approaching a Togolese patient with the left hand, which was considered dirty; about the people, whether they were friendly to strangers and friendly to Americans; and about the nature of public health and the rate of vaccination.
“You can still show the love of Christ, without knowing the language,” Baker said. “We were able to see the unbelievable happen. Complex surgical patients who should not have survived. Babies with an APGAR of zero, and you’re crying out to God, ‘Use my brain, my eyes, my fingers; use what I know to help this baby.’
“Our students didn’t go to be changed, but to see that those receiving care were changed. Because nursing is a ministry for Christ.”
Sandlund, Martin, and Baker answer the “why” behind nursing education. It is not merely a profession; it is not just a calling. It’s a sacrifice for Jesus Christ.
In loving memory of Dr. Lois Baker.
Dr. Lois Baker, Senior Professor Emerita of Nursing, went home to be with the Lord on November 12, 2022. Dr. Baker served in the School of Nursing from 1984-2014. She was the first coordinator for the cross-cultural nursing minor and was passionate about using nursing to reach the underserved and spread the Gospel. Her legacy lives on at Cedarville, having established the annual student missions trip to Togo that continues today.