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In April this year, a milestone in #CMDFAlyf occurred: IMPACT turned 20! IMPACT 2019 was a wonderful celebration at Elanora NSW on the theme of Gratitude.
Gratitude is what we feel as we look back on the last 20 years. We are so grateful to God for His sustaining. What started off as a fragile student movement vulnerable to gaps in student leadership, student busyness and the dreaded ‘black hole’ where recent graduates disappear off the radar into the busyness of hospitals and working life, has, by the grace of God, survived! And not only survived, but has flourished – providing twenty years of spiritual ‘recalibration’ for thousands of doctors and dentists whose hearts have been realigned to loving Jesus and dedicating their career to be a ministry, not just a job.
For twenty years, IMPACT has created a sacred space. Four days for medical and dental students and graduates to put aside the pressures of study and gather together to pray, worship, learn, hear from God and make lifelong friends.
A number of the early leaders of the IMPACT movement flew in to join the celebration this year including plenary speaker, (former Student and Recent Grads worker, and now missionary in East Timor) Dr Jeremy Beckett. Jeremy delivered a feast of ‘classic IMPACT’ Bible talks from Colossians 1 starting off with the challenging thought, “Isn’t it about time you gave up your faith?” (irony).
“Thousands of doctors and dentists whose hearts have been
realigned to loving Jesus and dedicating their career to be a ministry, not just a job.”
A special celebration dinner, IMPACT trivia quiz (which State has hosted the most IMPACTs?), an enthusiastic recreation of IMPACT memories like the 2011 Nutbush City Limit Line Dance (with gusto) was followed by a beautiful time of worship, prayer and communion outside around a cross in the dark, holding lanterns. We are first and foremost grateful to God for our salvation in Christ.
“IMPACT was a movement of [God’s] Spirit.”
Attendees at IMPACT this year were provided with a smorgasboard of exceptional workshops: Choosing a Specialty, Thriving in Medicine, Medicine as Ministry, Traps for Young Dentists, Paintbrushes and Stethoscopes, Managing Money, Overseas Mission, Gender Dysphoria and more.
Most Luke’s Journal readers know something of the IMPACT story: Seven medical and dental students met at a CMDFA National conference in 1999. Three of them – Maleika, Tash and Ros – were at IMPACT this year. CMDFA at that time had largely lost contact with students. Mark and I were also there in 1999, fresh from twelve years as missionaries in Papua New Guinea and with a passion to connect with students. It really was a work of God’s Spirit what happened next. I count it a life highlight and profound joy to have been involved with IMPACT from the beginning until now. God gave me a conviction that IMPACT was a movement of His Spirit that I should commit to giving my best to.
Early on, there was a sense that we were stewarding a God-given vision that was bigger than ourselves. It would take our loyalty and our dependence on Him to ‘make IMPACT happen’ year after year. Maleika Selwyn, Tash Yates, Joanne Choo, Jeremy Beckett and Chris Chan all contributed enormously in the early years. Along with many, many others! Dr Cliff Smith, CMDFA Executive Officer, along with his wife, Judy, gave unwavering support.
IMPACT stood for a new generation of Christian doctors and dentists rising up to declare that they would be solid in faith and radical in obedience in following Jesus Christ in healthcare, having an impact in Australia and in the world.
Six months after that fateful National Conference, the first IMPACT was held in April 2000, with seventy students from all over the country meeting in Canberra, around the theme of Eternity.
There have been so many people over twenty years that have committed to the flourishing of the IMPACT movement. It’s been much more than a conference, it’s been a community and a family. Lifelong friendships and over twenty marriages have been forged. From IMPACT, other annual events have emerged, including VISION, Intern Boot Camp and the Recent Grads Retreat. IMPACT alumni now fill CMDFA leadership roles all over the country, have started hospital prayer groups and are now mentors to students. So much generosity, so much prayer, so many IMPACT committees working hard… and so much joy in serving.
Yes, we are grateful.
Without IMPACT, the CMDFA would most likely not have any members less than 45 years old.
I firmly believe that IMPACT has been the single most significant cause of generational renewal, continuance and refreshment of CMDFA in the last 20 years and we give Him all the thanks and glory for what He has done!
See the 20 Years of IMPACT Timeline here.
Dr Judy Fitzmaurice has been supporting student and recent graduate ministry since 1999 as a founding IMPACT mentor, serial IMPACT committee member and as National Chair of the CMDFA (2008-15). She thanks God for the lifelong deep friendships she has made through IMPACT. It’s a story she loves to tell! All praise to God.