Nazarene College of Nursing, Kudjip, Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea:  From Illinois to Papua New Guinea: “Just One Step at a Time”

An interview with missionary Staci Rutledge, Nursing Instructor at Nazarene College of Nursing.

Please give us some background information about yourself.

My name is Staci Rutledge. I grew up in Illinois, and gave my life to Christ at 5.  I then felt  a call to missions at 16 when I went to a Nazarene Youth Congress.

Unsure of where God wanted me to go at that time, I pursued my other calling of nursing and graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). My first “mission field” was the Army, where I served as an officer in the Nurse Corps for 4 ½ years and then returned home.

It was during this time back in Bloomington/Normal, IL, that God was really working in the life of our church and the Northwest Illinois District.   A lot of emphasis was being given to prayer, discipleship and church planting.  It was then that God called me to come to Papua New Guinea (PNG).  After 8 months of preparation, I came to PNG in January of 2013.  I have just finished my second year of nursing instruction at Nazarene College of Nursing with plans to stay for at least another year.

How did God lead you to this assignment?

At 16, God had just told me to “Go”, and did not say where specifically. The path He laid out for me since then has mainly been just one more step at a time, each of them preparing me to say “yes.”  

Students on the Ward at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.

Students on the Ward at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.

One night in 2012, He woke me up early in the morning after an evening prayer meeting and brought to mind many pictures I had seen at a recent mission night.   The Thompsons (current missionaries to PNG) had visited my church. I wasn’t really sure what all of that meant but I got online at 2am, and went to the Website of the Nazarene Hospital in PNG. There, on the Nursing College page, was a little notice that “tutors” where needed and to contact the college president. I sent off an email to him and was then able to fall back to sleep. Waking up 3 hours later I had a reply and a clear leading that PNG was where God wanted me to go.

The Nazarene College of Nursing is currently looking for an additional Nursing Tutor/Instructor. Interested? Find out more information by clicking here! 

What has been most rewarding part of this assignment? When have you felt most energized?

Serving and “tutoring” on the wards.

The most rewarding times are with the students, anything from our Wednesday night fellowship worship times, to being with the students on the wards, helping them do procedures for the first time; and I’ve been with them for a LOT of procedures! From taking vital signs to delivering numerous babies, it’s their enthusiasm or sometimes their nervousness that inspires me to keep going. I also love classroom instruction times, especially when we can do hands on things and I am able to see the students really understand the information.

Tell us about one situation that has impacted you greatly since you have been in this assignment.

Placing towels around the students after their baptism.

Placing towels around the students after their baptism.

I was asked to place the towels on the students who were baptized this year after they came up out of the river at our special Independence Day baptism service.

In all, 11 students were baptized and 13 joined the church that day (out of our 92 students).

Celebrating with the students after the baptism service.

Celebrating with the students after the baptism service.

Having this bird’s eye view of their baptisms and hearing their testimonies of God’s work in their lives blessed my heart so much that day. It is now a memory I go back to when the challenges seem overwhelming. These students have overcome so much more than I can even imagine.

How has this assignment changed your view of our mission to make Christlike Disciples in the nations?

Being here has enhanced my feelings of what discipleship is all about. After a study on Daniel my first year here, one idea that really stood out to me was “influence the influential.”

Serving to influence the influencers.

Serving to influence the influential.

There are PNG nursing leaders, administrators and pastors here that have been influenced by one or two prior missionaries or Christians and they have gone on to build churches, to build up the college of nursing, to send Christian nurses out all over the country, and many other things. I don’t know if their predecessors saw them as the “influential” or not at the time, but they certainly have become so.

These nursing students are all going to be influential. It’s the nature of their job, and getting to influence them for Christ on a daily basis has been my goal. It doesn’t have to be hard work (as some would view discipleship), but it is often intentional. Building relationships, asking the hard questions in love, being fair with rules and standards, but also extending grace when needed – all of these things have become means of discipleship for me.

What is one challenge God has helped you to overcome?

When I came here I thought I was going to be a tutor, in the US version of that word, meaning someone who helps small groups of people in an area where they need additional help, and in a sense, coaches them. So, I had quite a big surprise that first day when they began to explain I was not going to be assisting another teacher but becoming the PNG version of the word “tutor!”

Learning what the word "tutor" means in PNG.

Learning what the word “tutor” means in PNG.

Here tutor means instructor, professor, the one in charge of 45 first-year students for 10 hours a week, with lessons to create in the remaining hours! I’ve never been much for public speaking, but loved one-on-one and small group interactions. God helped me through creating and giving each one of those lessons these past 2 years. Now I actually can say I prefer the classroom time with the students (on most days) to being on the ward supervising students. Both give me joy, but on the classroom days, I’m with all the students, not just a few.

What would you tell someone who is considering a mission assignment?

Make sure wherever or whatever it is, it is what God wants for you. You will have challenges, you will have joys, you will experience hardships and frustrations, you will see many things that change your perspective for the better.  You will not feel qualified for some things required of you, you will have wonderful days, and days you wish you could forget. You will mess up the language, you will make people laugh (hopefully you can laugh too).

But as long as you have a clear sense that this place is where God has called you to, or the task He has for you, you can rest assured and face the day with Him, having faith He will help you through.

The Nazarene College of Nursing is currently looking for an additional Nursing Tutor/Instructor. Interested? Find out more information by clicking here! 

To read more about Staci’s ministry in PNG, check out her blog:

Compiled and Edited by Dave Hane, Asia-Pacific Personnel Coordinator

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