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Wednesday
Aug082012

One thing disease eradication workers desperately need

• A child receiving the polio vaccine - CC-BY-NC-ND by Gates Foundation •
Part three of a three part Interview with Jeffrey Havenner

Brian Lowther: One of the goals we've considered is trying to fill a need within the public health industry by helping workers integrate their work with their faith, i.e., demonstrate to them how their work glorifies God and brings his will on earth as it is in heaven. Does this seem like a legitimate goal to you? Is this needed? In other words, is an organization needed that would network and encourage believers at work in public health/disease eradication? Or is there already someone doing this?

Jeffrey Havenner: That does seem like a worthy goal. Scientists are under intense pressure to compartmentalize faith in God if they have it and keep it out of scientific practice on pain of exile from the profession if they do not. When I was in graduate school, I was blessed to have a fellow graduate student in the next lab who was also a Christian. We spent quite a bit of time discussing theology as well as science and attended an off campus Bible study together. He was eventually the best man at my wedding. We still keep in touch. I don't know if public health people feel the same degree of pressure.  I have another friend in the US Public Health Service that I will be getting together with in a few weeks. I will ask his impression of pressure to compartmentalize faith in that discipline. I will ask him if he is aware of a Christian fellowship of Public Health workers. I believe this gets to your last question as well. I asked my friend who works at NIH about a Christian association of public health workers and he said he was not aware of one.

The integration of our faith in God with our work so that God is honored by what we do and by how we interact with people we work with is of great importance. It is easy for people to feel defeated in their walk with God because they feel compromised in the way they are forced to separate work from faith to avoid trouble especially in government settings. Freedom of Religion in America has morphed into the right of freedom from religion.

Jeffrey Havenner is a retired microbiologist who worked at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the Department of Rickettsial Diseases. 

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