Reflect 2024 Breakout Sessions

Hope for ourselves, our patients and the world

What does it mean to be hopeful from a Christian world view amidst seemingly insurmountable workloads, increasing patient expectations, diagnostic complexity, pain, suffering, personal tragedy, and a world of existential crises?

A panel of health professionals will candidly share what hope means to them as they have faced challenges personally, at work and in their communities around the world. The session will conclude with an interactive discussion to further explore what hope is and why it is important.

Auckland Panel:

Hannah Noel

Hannah Noel is a general paediatrician at Te Whatu Ora Waitematā, and mother to 10 year old Elise. Her perspective on faith and hope was shaped by losing her husband Dr Jared Noel to metastatic bowel cancer in 2014. She is an enthusiastic baker, a reluctant runner and loves honest conversations about the beauty and chaos of life.

Edmond Ang

Edmond is a medical oncologist who works at Whangarei Base Hospital. After years of moving countries and cities, his GP wife Ee Ling, their three sons (and three chooks)  are now grateful to call Northland home. Edmond is a passionate communicator and has spoken in both local and international conferences, including at the opening ceremony of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference. 

Fraser and Janet Hodgson

Fraser is a semi-retired GP with 36 years in his own practice, who now locums around the regions. He has previously had roles in teaching medical students of all levels. Janet is now retired from Practice Nursing and together they have 5 children, including a 30-year-old son with multiple disabilities, and 9 grandchildren. Prior to GP they were sent to Pakistan with Church Missionary Society for a brief stint and are now active in their church fellowship and enjoying family, tramping and travel.

Christchurch Panel:

Jay Erickson 

Originally from Minnesota in the USA and a General Practitioner, Jay and his family found their way to Christchurch by way of a 25-year Navy career and two desert experiences that have been foundational in his trust in the Lord and his hope for the future of his family, his patients, and the world.
Kathryn Forwood

Kathryn is a Haematologist and Palliative Medicine Specialist, along with being the Director of Prevocational Medical Training for Southern District. She is based in Dunedin with her husband, greyhound and two kittens.  Kathryn fills her spare time serving as a youth group leader at church, welcoming respite foster kids into her home with her husband and enjoying the blessings of God’s beautiful outdoors.

Valerie Black

Valerie is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Clinical Director of CAF (Child and Family Mental Health) Services for Waitaha Canterbury. She lives in Christchurch, is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

Emotional Health in Christ: Keys to Sustainable Service and Holistic Flourishing

Emotional health is not an optional extra for those engaged in meaningful work, particularly in pressured contexts: it is one of the keys to sustainable activity, long-term personal growth, and holistic wellbeing. As Christians, we have a range of rich resources on which emotional health can be founded, the challenge is in learning how to live into it on the daily.

This session will include personal reflection on our own level of emotional health and what practices might better support us as we seek to follow Christ and flourish in the midst of working out our vocational call.

Maja Whitaker

Maja began her academic life with a BSc in Anatomy, eventually working in the Anatomy and Bioethics departments with Gareth Jones at the University of Otago. This preoccupation with the body has informed her theological research, which explores the importance of the body to Christian spirituality and the Christian eschatological hope. Maja is now a lecturer in Practical Theology at Laidlaw College, based at the Christchurch campus, and a pastor in the Equippers network of churches. Her teaching centres around developing Christian leaders who flourish in ministry and vocation and who are deeply formed by their followership of Christ. Maja’s research interests include the theology of the body, theological anthropology, disability theology, and eschatology. She is married to Dave and they have four daughters.

The Big Lie: The Faith Versus Science Myth

The idea that faith and science are at odds with each other is widespread in popular culture. This presentation explores the origins of this belief and examines the considerable debt modern science owes to the Judeo-Chrisitan tradition.

Adam Claasen

Adam is a senior lecturer in history at Massey University’s Auckland campus. His academic teaching and research focus on twentieth-century history and American Foreign Policy. He is a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship recipient and Fulbright Scholar. His most recent book was Fearless: The extraordinary story of New Zealand’s Great War airmen (Massey University Press) and he is currently completing a four-year biographical project. Adam is in high demand for presentations at churches, community groups and Christian conferences on apologetics, church history, biblical world view and contemporary topics in Christianity. Recently, he has been presenting on God and technology and the relationship between faith and science.  He is the married to the amazing Sandra and they have four sons. 

How a Nurse Learnt about Legacy from the Reminiscing of Elders

As Christian nurses we can create a legacy that is both manifest and transcendent. This breakout session will explore the natural accumulation of souvenirs and trophies versus a ‘legacy’ that speaks to our embodied hope and the higher calling we have in  God.

Sandra Claasen

Sandra is a Gerontologist Nurse Specialist in Rodney, Auckland. With over thirty-five years in the health sector she has worked in acute medicine, with a specialisation in assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of the older adult (AT&R) as a level four nurse, before working as a clinical coach. She finds her current role in the community as one of the most fulfilling of her career. And all of this has been accomplished while home-educating four sons and cheering on her best friend and husband Adam.


The Saline Taster session will introduce you to the Saline Course: an interactive Biblically based training for Christian Health Care Workers. Learn how to participate in God’s work and represent the hope of Christ in your clinical setting.


Diana Rae


Diana Rae is a retired Palliative Care Specialist working in Taranaki as a locum 2 days a week. She has been a CMF member for over 40 years in England and New Zealand and is married to John whom she met through CMF UK. They have 2 adult children living in the UK who they visit annually. Diana enjoys scuba diving, choir and playing the ukelele. She has become involved with her church’s Community Garden and hopes to involve locals in the garden work and produce harvesting.

John Williamson

John Williamson is a UK trained GP working 3 days per week as a locum for the Carefirst group of practices in Taranaki. He has been actively involved with CMF UK & NZ for many years. He has recently completed Saline training and is keen to help other Healthcare professionals integrate their faith with medical practice.

John loves living on their lifestyle block with sheep and chickens. He is often found pottering around the premises mending fences and building things. He sings in a male voice choir and scuba dives whenever he can.


Susie Flink

Susie is originally from the United States and has called New Zealand home for the past 13 years.  She works as an Emergency Department Consultant in New Plymouth.

Flora Gastrell

Flora has been a Saline Trainer for the last 4 years. She has worked as a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist for the last 20 years in both public and private settings. She finds the Saline Process provides tools for sensitive and appropriate sharing of Christ's salt and light both in work and non-work settings. She feels every Christian health professional should do this course regularly to keep their faith and work integrated and adapted for their current work setting.

Note this session will be in Auckland only:

PRIME Taster

The PRIME taster will feature an overview of how this international healthcare christian education charity with Jesus as its model Teacher seeks to care for patients as a whole as well as the core program modules. These modules include whole person care, mental health care, palliative care and values added. All healthcare professionals are invited to see how they may be involved in seeing that all people have access to healthcare that provides for the whole person: body, mind and spirit, delivered with competence, compassion, respect and integrity. 
Richard Wong

Richard is a VR GP/hospitalist in Australia who is experienced in both urban and rural settings as well as progressively serving more on overseas medical mission trips. He is a long-term member of CMDFA and was its NSW secretary for a number of years before switching to continue in a similar role in Queensland. He is a trainer for the Saline Process as well as a PRIME qualified tutor and on the board for Healthserve Australia. He is interested in utilising whatever skills God has given him to enjoy and serve Him. 

Conference goers can choose on the day of conference which breakouts to attend


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