Day 14

December 10

December 10

John 1:1-8

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

A Witness to the Light

by Shelby Garner, Ph.D., RN, CNE

The book of John is my favorite book of the Bible. The scripture begins as an epic adventure, taking us back to the beginning of time. It provides a rich backstory as verses 1:1-8 give context to the most important events of the world: the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the light of all mankind. The vivid illustration of Christ as the light in the darkness can give us great hope and inspiration as we ask ourselves “How can we be a witness to the light?” in what often feels like a dark world.

Each semester on the first day of class, I share my personal faith journey with my undergraduate senior nursing students who are enrolled in a Consumer of Research course. I ask them to join me in thinking about what it means to be a witness to the light through the vocation of nursing. How can we strive to be a witness to the light as we compassionately care for diverse populations while respecting each patient’s and each other’s own culture, religion, personal beliefs, and choices, even when they differ from our own?

As we delve into the research process, we discuss the importance of being a witness to the light by ensuring our nursing practice is informed by the highest forms of research so that we may deliver quality patient care with excellence. To explore the importance of ethics in research, we take a field trip to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. This is an eye-opening experience for most students as they learn about the horrific role that nurses and physicians played in the Holocaust by conducting unethical human experiments that resulted in the torture, murder, and genocide of the Jewish people. During this transformational excursion we also see inspirational examples of upstanders. An upstander, in contrast to a bystander, is an individual who takes action to stand up for others, often exemplifying a light in the darkness. Throughout the semester I ask my students to become upstanders by using research to shine a light on health disparities among the vulnerable, marginalized, and underserved populations of today. They never disappoint me as they work diligently in small groups on a project to identify evidence-based nursing practices to improve health disparities. They give me great hope for our future as they present their findings during a symposium to advocate for health equity on the last day of class.

I learn so much from my students each and every semester. While they give me great hope and joy, my greatest hope comes from the epilogue of the true story of scripture; the promise that Jesus Christ, the light of all mankind, will return to fulfill his redemptive kingdom plan (Hebrews 9:28). Until that time, let’s continue to help each other be a witness to the light. I encourage you to read and meditate on the book of John and think about how you can be a witness to the light today.

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Shelby Garner, Ph.D., RN, CNEShelby Garner, Ph.D., RN, CNE

Shelby Garner, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Dr. Garner’s primary research interest involves building nurse and health system capacity in India through the adaptation, design and testing of innovative technologies to transform health education and improve patient care.

Dr. Garner teaches Consumer of Research in the undergraduate program and Servant Leadership in the graduate program. Dr. Garner has a passion for mentoring students through the research process and has supported student research presentations at local, national, and international forums such as the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Dr. Garner received her Ph.D. in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University, M.S.N. from the University of Phoenix and BSN from Texas Christian University.