A Story of Faith, Ventilators and Sleeping

One of our more recent members is Rebekah Nunns. We loved her honesty, raw faith and her vital role in the current COVID-19 crisis. So it only seemed fitting that an interview took place to discover what motivates Rebekah, where she sees herself in Revive and how she does her daily acts of faith at St James’s Hospital in Leeds. Check her story out here:

Give me a quick summary of who you are?

Hello everyone! I am 62, I’m an NHS healthcare support worker. I’m single at the moment, I’ve got three lovely kids and I’ve got three grandchildren. They are Harley 9, Poppy 22 months and Dylan who is nearly one years old. They don’t all live near me in East Leeds, but I’m close with all of them.

Do you come into contact with patients on a daily basis? – Where is your office located then?

So I work at St James’s Hospital, in an office away from the public in a team of around 15 nurses, doctors and admin staff. I get on with everyone and consider myself lucky to be with them. As a healthcare support worker, I do telephone consultations with people on CPAP machine. These machines are for people who have breathing problems. It helps keeps the airways open during the night when people are sleeping through providing positive pressure.

I used to have one myself for a few months, so I really understand how important they are. They’re really about giving you a good quality of life through a decent nights sleep.

Working with a team of people at an office, do you get worried about being infected?

What’s happened recently is that we’ve been moved out to a different wing which isn’t a ‘hot’ area with Coronavirus patients, so that makes me feel safer. That happened last weekend in fact and it was a lot of work! Obviously, we do hear about all the infections and we still do self-isolation in the team. All the respirator life-saving machines are stored in our hospital wing and can then be moved to the hot areas as needed.

I suppose it’s like anyone else, you can get infected, but so far touchwood, I’m fine. I do have diabetes, so I am protected as in I would not be expected to go onto a ward at. As long as I keep up with my hand hygiene, I feel reasonably well protected. I don’t think I am particularly brave, I do feel scared like most people, but I’m a professional, so I’ve a job to do.

It does cause me some emotional stress, we have some highly skilled staff and some of them are having to administer those ventilators for patients. There are days when I’m really sad, we know that there are lots of people suffering and dying. However, since moving, I’m not directly seeing those patients who have died anymore.

How long have you been a Christian and how did you come to faith?

I’ve been a Christian since I was 7 when I saw the black and white film the Crucifixion with my school teacher. I was crying when I came out of the cinema and that is when I had my first glimpse of faith, I knew I believed.

I’ve lived in a Christian orphanage for being 7 to 11. Then when I was 11 to 12, my Mum came back and I lived with her. She sadly then died and I went back to the orphanage until I was 18 years old. I never blamed God when I lost my Mum. I believe that when she died, we cried and so did God. I’m not one of those to get angry and do any blaming.

Ever since then, I’ve had a continuous faith. I found Revive through Karen and Jonathan Gray as I live in East Leeds. I love Revive, but I also struggle with it sometimes as there are a lot of academic people and I’m not. I’m now a member of the Revive and they are a really caring group of people. As a newcomer, I have really felt welcomed. But not feeling like I entirely fit, I’m still am happy there as I feel God put me there. Maybe I represent a side of the Revive that doesn’t have the university degrees.

Does your faith give you strength in these trying times?

I’ve got a favourite passage that I’ve been reading when I’ve been recently struggling. Philippians ch4 v12-13 which says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

That is something which is really strong in my heart which I read when I am doubting myself or have fear in my heart.

Do your work colleagues know you are a Christian?

Yes they do. My boss is a Scout leader, he doesn’t particularly talk about faith, but I know he is a Christian man. My colleague is more on the scientific side of things. Even though when she prayed in a personal situation, she got help, she also reverts back to her scientific side of things. She came with me to Carols in the Park last Christmas. I will keep inviting her to other things in the future.

Have these difficult times caused you to change your attitude to expressing your faith, telling your work colleagues what you believe in?

I don’t think its been really discussed at the moment. People know I’m really helpful and kind, so we are really just getting our heads down and working through it all. We’re not allowed to discuss religion with patients, but with my work colleagues, they know where I stand.

Tell us about your artistic side?

I like to paint, do modelling, knitting, jigsaws, gardening, plants, seeing the sun coming out. They are all forms of God’s creation and it makes me feel glad to be alive and appreciative. I’m fortunate that I do have a garden and it lifts up my spirit.

For some reason, I like painting trees, it’s like the branches reaching up to the heavens as I am also reaching up to try meet with God. It’s my way of being positive in a word full of negativity.

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