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Issue 28

Faith into action

Faith Into Action - by Joanna Bruce, MBE
We asked Joanna Bruce if she would write an article for our Newsletter.    We thought her journey would interest and encourage other members of the Fellowship, particularly in the way she has put her faith into action.  Unfortunately her article is too long for the Newsletter so we asked Joanna if we could write a précis of her article, on the understanding that the whole article would be available on our Website, including the Table of all her projects.  Joanna kindly agreed to this.

Joanna describes her childhood as being rather sad and lonely. She remembers going to church and being confirmed but not taking to God as presented by the church at the time, and could not relate to this image of the deity.   She writes... \"By my early adulthood I could best be described as agnostic with atheist leanings. It was the 1980s; I was a staff nurse in Reading and found myself asking universal questions about life, fairness, death, pain, courage, love, compassion and social responsibility\".

Her aunt had a profound influence on Joanna\'s life... \"My Aunt, a devout Christian, had spent her early career working as a midwife amongst the poorest communities of the East End of London in the 1950s (she later brought her experiences to life by writing the \"Call the Midwife\" trilogy which later became a popular BBC series). We were close and as fellow nurses often discussed important social and spiritual issues. We often talked about deaths we had witnessed, the state of grace in patients at their final stages and the honour of nursing patients at the point of death itself.  My aunt encouraged me to question life and doctrine and to put my trust in God\'s ultimate loving plan for me. She expanded our conversations about dying in our society and these were published in her last book \"In the Midst of Life\".

After exploring several ways in how she should proceed on her life\'s journey and querying her role as a nurse, Joanna met key people who helped her on the way; she writes... \"Suddenly the clouds opened\".  She changed her direction; took a break from nursing and started studying - gaining a degree on the way.  She started to read the Bible and attended philosophy classes.   

\"Quickly, the practical nurse in me realised that if I wanted to \'do good and effect c hange\' in the world I should put my newly evolving faith into action.... After asking God to show her what He would like her to do about some of the needs around her, Joanna writes,  \"I chose fields where people were the most shunned by society and where charitable support was missing... I learned so much along the way from many people who generously shared their time, skills and experience with me to help those most marginalised in society\".   Her many achievements include setting up and running a weekly support group for families of addicts; setting up and establishing a rural youth project for disadvantaged young people, and raising £1.5 million to build a centre and deliver youth services.  Joanna is currently setting up a Good Neighbour Scheme with other healthcare professionals and the local vicar.  She also established the Lee Foundation in memory of her aunt, and has trained to become a respite foster carer for sick or disabled children. She is now waiting for her first foster child. These are only a few of the numerous projects Joanna has set up and led.  She was awarded the MBE for charity work.  

Jo anna writes \"I wake up every morning and thank God for my blessings (including my 3 adult sons who I believe would not be in my life if I had not changed my path in life\").  

\"I have come to the FCP within the last year through a chance meeting with Canon John Crowe. I had spent years dipping in and out of church spending most of my life \'cutting out the middle man\' and finding serenity through a more direct conversation with the God of my understanding. I was not enamoured with the doctrine and some of the hypocrisy I witnessed within some chur ches. The FCP approach is a good match for me. I liken it to the difference between orchestral music and stripped back acoustic guitar music. I like the simplicity; the physical, spiritual and ultimately practical method, with a focus on transformation. For me, my daily practice is about listening for God\'s plan for me, the embodiment of His word and ultimately turning this learning into action. I strongly believe we all have a duty to do more and put our faith into positive action for the benefit of others\". 

Joanna Bruce MBE 
Director, M arches Better Health Services    
Holistic nurse/practitioner/project manager

Please note that the full article can also be found here, including a full table of Joanna\'s projects which makes very interesting reading.

Précis of this article by
Maxine Nicholas, Newsletter Editor