In just a few days, on August 5, 2022, Mim Jacobson will have been accumulating knowledge, wisdom, memories, and all kinds of things for 75 years. In honor of reaching our mid-70s, Mim and I have begun the process of sorting through all our stuff. In one of our boxes in our basement store room, Mim found “Nightlights,” the Fall 1992 issue of the newsletter of The Night Ministry, the organization where Mim worked her last few years in Chicago.
Working at the Night Ministry was an unusual job. A team consisting of a nurse, a minister, and a volunteer took a 31-foot mobile home to selected neighborhoods in Chicago at night where homeless young people tended to gather. The team offered homeless kids a brief respite off the street, a peanut butter sandwich, a listening ear, and limited health care services.
Although Mim hates to write, she actually wrote the front page story of this issue of the newsletter. Here’s the editorial comment that preceded her story:
Mim has been with the Health Outreach Program since it began. Mim’s skill and professionalism as a Nurse Practitioner are combined with the compassion necessary to carry out this unique job. She has touched the lives of hundreds of street kids. We are sad to say that on September 30th we are losing Mim, and we wish her well in her new life in Wisconsin.
Below is the story that Mim wrote 30 years ago. I’m glad Mim saved the newsletter in a box of stuff, and that we found it again so that I can share her story with you.
Health Care and Ministry
by Mim Jacobson, R.N., N.P.
I believe that health care and ministry have been intertwined ever since Jesus came to earth and spent much of his time preaching, teaching, and healing the sick. There are many stories in the Bible that relate Jesus’s care and concern for the whole person, and often he included physical ailments.
I would like to share a story that happened on the street not long ago. In many ways, it parallels the story of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke.
I was in my car one night following the mobile home and pulled up behind it in the LaSalle-Hubbard Street area, about 12:30 a.m. When I got out of my car, I heard a weak voice crying, “Help me, help me, Oh, please help me.” As I looked around, I saw someone lying on the curb almost a block away.
Laurie, one of our volunteer outreach ministers, was standing outside the mobile home, so I called to her to come with me to see what was the matter. As we approached this elderly gentleman, I was not sure what we would find wrong or even how we could help.
He said his name was John. He had fallen down and could not get back on his feet, but denied feeling any pain. He had very swollen legs, and a dressing on one of his hands, and he told us he had a colostomy from a previous surgery.
After finding out I was a nurse, John told me that he had been treated terribly at the hospital and had been thrown out by the security guards. He didn’t seem to know or wouldn’t tell us where he lived and didn’t have any family. He adamantly refused to go back to the hospital but said the police knew him, and he would go to the police station.
As we got John to his feet, he was very unsteady, and I was afraid he would fall again. We offered to walk with him although he insisted he didn’t need help. I felt sure that if we didn’t get him inside somewhere he would fall again and be lying in the street.
As we walked down Clark Street toward the Rock and Roll McDonalds, he said a cup of coffee would taste good. I thought, “Thank goodness! At least we can get him inside sitting down and then figure out what to do next.” Laurie went to get John a cup of coffee. I sat with him asking questions, trying to figure out if there was somewhere he could go and how to help get him there.
I saw the manager walking around, so I decided to talk with her and tell her the situation. Maybe she could call the police. She came over, sat down at the table and said to me, “I know him; he comes in every morning about 5 a.m. for breakfast. We’ll see that he is taken care of.”
John had not been beaten by robbers and left to die. However, he is one of the many elderly in our society that, for whatever reason, is left to care for himself at a point in his life when he may need some assistance. Laurie and I did not pass by on the other side; we tried to do what we could. I am personally grateful to “the Innkeeper,” the young manager at McDonalds, for taking over when Laurie and I needed to leave.
The parable of the Good Samaritan was told by Jesus to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” At The Night Ministry we all have the opportunity, many times a night, to answer and act on that question. In this way, ministry and health care go hand in hand.
The Good Samaritan assessed the situation, did what he could to help the injured man, and made some provision for his future care. Each of us, ministers and health care workers, may see from slightly different points of view because of our training. However, we all assess, do what we can to help, and make appropriate referrals.
It is my belief that, as human beings, we are all called to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” In my capacity as a nurse for the Health Outreach Program, I am given the opportunity to minister to many needs.
Mim wrote this story 30 years ago, when she was 45. Several years later she read the book THE PATH: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life by Laurie Beth Jones. In the book, Jones leads readers through a process to write their own personal life mission statement. Following the steps in the book, Mim defined the following as her life mission:
To nurture, advocate for, and provide hospitality for those who are vulnerable.
Mim and I have lived together for almost 50 of her 75 years. I have watched her practice nursing in just about as many different environments as a nurse can work –
- a Chicago hospital Emergency Room
- literally working on the streets of Chicago with The Night Ministry
- serving in a clinic in a very poor neighborhood of the city
- teaching nursing at North Park College in Chicago
- caring for hospice patients in our home in Wisconsin.
In all cases she nurtured, advocated for, and provided hospitality for those who were vulnerable.
I think Mim fully understood what she was called to do with her life when she wrote her life mission statement. She’s not done yet, but I couldn’t be prouder of how she’s fulfilling her life mission.
Yes, there are parallels in her life to the story of The Good Samaritan. She has figured out who her neighbors are wherever she lives.