“It’s hard work but it’s unmistakably filled with the heart of God,” says Laura when asked about her job as an occupational therapist within a state forensic psychiatric hospital. This hospital exists for people who have committed crimes from murder to assault and are placed there due to mental illness. Laura says, “A good day here is one where no one hurts someone else.”
In college, Laura was drawn to occupational therapy because she desired to help people engage in everyday life skills. As she shadowed occupational therapists, her interest grew and she knew this was her calling. She believes God has sent her to be an advocate for some of the most marginalized people in society.
She says, “Despite the horrendous things some of them have done, I look at them and say, ‘You are a child of God. I care for you. You are loved and valued.’” Recently one of her patients became suicidal and she was able to share the truth to him that he is a valuable person whose life is meaningful.
After her time in Cru at the University of Indianapolis, she received training from the Medical Strategic Network. This helped her see how her profession as an occupational therapist could be a ministry. Now she says, “My primary ministry is my work.” There are days Laura and her co-workers fear for their lives as they work among dangerous criminals, but these fears are worth it as she also experiences Christ daily in the eyes of patients who are made in God’s image.
The difficulty of the job has created common ground with her co-workers. They all experience the fear, the exhaustion, and the brokenness. Recently, she held a dinner for all of her co-workers and discussed several essays she had written as she has processed her experiences in the job. Each of these included Laura’s prayers and glimpses into her faith in Christ. She read part of the essays aloud and then gave bound copies to everyone. It was a great opportunity to help her co-workers put language to what they have experienced, see Jesus in it, and open the door for many spiritual conversations.
Laura couldn’t do it alone. She is surrounded by a church community who values what she does and how it relates to the gospel of Christ. She meets to pray with friends from church every morning before she goes to work. Supported by the encouragement and prayers of many friends, she continues to serve the least of these daily, showing them the love and mercy of God.
Laura is a SENT ONE!
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