Meet the new director of Nurses Christian Fellowship!
Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN, didn’t plan on being a nurse until she worked in a hospital as a high school senior and was captivated by the life-giving power of the nurse-patient relationship.
“After I witnessed the intimacy of caring for people, I knew nursing was for me!” Kathy said. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing at UT Arlington and started caring for cancer patients. “I quickly realized the critical need to care for people spiritually, to be with them in their suffering, to help them reach out to God.”
Within a year of completing her BSN, God called Kathy to further education at Oral Roberts University. “The master’s program at ORU was outstanding. I learned whole person caring—body, mind, and spirit. I discovered theory and research. I heard Jesus’ call to excellence. I also was introduced to Nurses Christian Fellowship and NCF Bible studies. I discovered Jesus was the model nurse.”
After graduation, Kathy worked as a clinical nurse specialist and successfully led a cardiac rehabilitation department during the huge insurance changes of the 1980s.
Five years after completing her MSN, Kathy felt the tug to expand her research expertise and earned a PhD in Nursing from the University of Kansas. Kathy recalls, “The commute from Wichita to Kansas City was grueling, but I loved the deep critical thinking and learning how to build knowledge to provide better care for patients.”
As a doctoral student, Kathy was asked to serve at a national NCF conference as a Bible study leader and prayer minister. This connected Kathy with NCF nationally. Through the 1990s she volunteered with the NCF Central Plains leadership council where she assisted with continuing education conferences and supported NCF faculty advisors at nursing schools in the region. Through NCF, Kathy also began experiencing life-changing Bible study—and never stopped.
In 2002, Judy Shelly, then editor of the Journal of Christian Nursing, asked Kathy, “Have you ever considered being a journal editor?” Kathy remembers her response. “No, but God whispered to me from Numbers 13-14 to move forward and take the promised land; He would be with me.” She started helping with JCN and became editor in March 2004.
In 2005, Kathy helped NCF partner with publishing giant Wolters Kluwer Health / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins to publish JCN. “This was a miraculous work of God that widened NCF’s influence. We now publish JCN in print, online, mobile, and iPad formats, and our biblically-based continuing education for nurses is online with one of the world’s largest CE providers.”
When Paul Tokunaga, Vice-President for InterVarsity’s Strategic Ministries, approached Kathy to consider becoming NCF director, God whispered again through Numbers 13-14. Even though his people may feel like grasshoppers, “If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land… and will give it to us” (Numbers 14:8).
Kathy says, “For NCF, that land is the college campus where there are nursing programs for almost 800 bachelor’s degrees and over 1200 associate degrees. That land is InterVarsity where we can help move the vision forward to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed. That land is the over 3 million nurses in the U.S. who need Jesus. NCF is about bringing the Good News of Jesus to nursing, and helping students, educators, and nurses practice from a biblically-based Christian perspective.”
On July 1, 2016 Kathy became the national director of NCF and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Christian Nursing.
“I am excited about what God will do with and through NCF in the coming years,” Kathy said, “I don’t know all that will be needed to lead NCF, but I serve the One who holds all power and wealth and wisdom and strength. God will lead NCF.”