Kentucky BNF: A ‘catalyst’ for a missional lifestyle

Originally published at Western Recorder –

Louisville—“We’re not the biggest organization, but we’re a committed organization,” Wanda Walker, adult and church-wide consultant for the Kentucky WMU and liaison between the local chapter and national Baptist Nursing Fellowship, said of the Kentucky BNF.

“Just to see them in action, Jesus shines through these ladies and men,” she continued. “They live a missional lifestyle. BNF is the catalyst for helping them pursue that.”

The Kentucky BNF “is an organization for health care professionals to network with others through Bible study and worship; participate in mission/ministry projects; encourage and support one another through prayer; prepare for a witnessing lifestyle and provide information and encouragement about mission careers in the medical field,” according to the group’s website.

They meet twice a year, once at the spring Kentucky WMU annual meeting and the last Saturday in June.

Two of the many dedicated Kentucky BNF nurses are Benita Decker and Charlotte Rock.

“Benita Decker has a true mission’s heart,” Walker said. “She’s very compassionate, but she’s a straightforward person. She is real honest about things, and has a real respect among her peers and colleagues.”

Decker has served as president of the Kentucky BNF, and “has just been really involved in the growth of the organization—promoting it, believing in it and what it’s about,” Walker added.

Through the BNF and Kentucky WMU, Decker went to Malawi two years ago and is returning this year to “teach pastor’s wives,” Decker said.

“Two years we taught them about various aspects of being a pastor’s wife, but they also wanted some health information,” Decker continued.

“The healthcare system in Malawi is pretty poor, and they needed information and hands-on training on what can they can do to be healthier and to help their communities to be heathier,” Decker said. “Another nurse and I went and taught various aspects of health.”

This year, she will be returning to do the same thing—teach them how to be healthy and put a spiritual spin on it, she said. She will also be “equipping them with some real tools that they can take back not only for themselves, but to their communities and to their churches.”

“While I’m doing that, the other ladies are teaching them how to be on mission, how to be a good pastor’s wife and some Bible studies to really help equip these ladies as they go back and minister in their churches.”

“I would not have had that opportunity had I not been involved in the Kentucky WMU and the BNF.”

Decker, widowed mother of two adult daughters, works for the Department for Public Health as the adolescent health coordinator. She also is music director at Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort and serves on the administrative committee of the Mission Board of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

“Charlotte Rock has a heart of gold, and what I perceive as her part of BNF is the education part—getting out there and helping people understand the importance of taking care of themselves,” Walker said. “She is a very faithful person. She is strong in prayer and support for missions, for nurses.”

Rock is instrumental in the wellness ministry at Walnut Street Baptist Church, Walker added.

Rock and her husband, Clayton, are retired missionaries to Argentina, appointed in 1982 and retiring in 2007. While on the field, in addition to ministering in other capacities such as church planting, she was a trainer for community health evangelism.

“Right now my role with BNF in Kentucky is the faith community nurse consultant,” Rock said.

In that role, she helps “other nurses look at what the possibilities are in their churches to begin some type of health ministry for the congregants,” she said.

Rock, mother of three, grandmother of two, and avid knitter, recently retired from continued work in the healthcare profession. She and Clayton have been on the membership roll at Walnut Street Church in Louisville since 1992.

Additionally both ladies help with community mission projects, health booths and other aspects of the BNF.

“Most healthcare professionals recognize that this is a calling, and that God has equipped and gifted us with the art of healing and compassion,” Decker said.

“We do that every day in our work, but some days it gets pretty downtrodden because we live in such a fallen world. Being able to strengthen and equip each other along the way has been the biggest benefit,” she said of the BNF.

Rock concluded, “Being a Christian nurse, we have the hope of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives and, hopefully, we can impart that to the people we take care of. I believe that one of the biggest benefits of the BNF is helping nurses to see themselves in that role as a Christian, first and foremost, and utilizing that in the nursing profession.” (WR)