Chad Raith, assistant professor of religion and philosophy, is finishing up the semester at JBU and recently started a new full-time job with Mercy Health.
“It’s been a good five years,” Chad Raith said, reflecting on his time at JBU.
Mercy Health is a nationwide, faith-based, Catholic, not-for-profit system of hospitals and clinics. As Executive Vice President of Mission and Ethics at Mercy Health, Raith oversees the fulfilment of the Christian vision within the Mercy hospitals and clinics in Northwest Arkansas.
Raith described the multiple dimensions to his new job, which include teaching, ministry and supervising.
“Sometimes I’m walking up and down the hospital talking to nurses and managers, leaders, asking them how they’re doing, you know if they have any needs, and you know we serve them,” Raith said.
Other times Raith is in the Mercy chapel, leading physicians, nurses, executives and other staff members in formation, an 18-month class about the Christian mission and vision.
Raith said that every morning, he’s in an executive meeting and gets briefed on all the major procedures scheduled for that day.
“Every day I walk in to the hospital knowing that lives are being changed that day. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse,” Raith said. “It’s weighty, it’s humbling, and it’s also extremely fulfilling.”
Raith said he was approached for the job after Nick Ogle, a former JBU professor who works at Mercy, recommended him. The position had been open for eight months. After 16 interviews, all of which happened over Christmas break, Raith was hired.
Raith said that both his jobs are ways for him to make an impact in the name of Jesus Christ.
Raith currently teaches theology and core classes. He is also director of the Paradosis Center, an independent research center hosted by John Brown University with the mission of bringing together Christians from Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical backgrounds for dialogue. Michael Francis, assistant professor of biblical studies, will take his position as director of the Paradosis Center.
One of the most common classes that students take with Raith is Evangelical Theology, a Bible core requirement.
Katie Maurer, junior intercultural studies, is currently taking Evangelical Theology with Raith.
“I really appreciate him as a Bible professor,” Maurer said. “Sometimes professors who really know their subject can come off as confusing, but he does a good job at connecting students with what he’s teaching.”
Raith said he did not always see himself having a career centered on theology.
“I graduated college as an Industrial and Systems Engineer. I was quite good at it, actually, and I thought it would be my career,” Raith said.
Raith became a Christian at the end of college, and he said that along with a changed heart came a changed career field.
“To me, being a professor of biblical studies is a testimony to God’s grace in my life. He changed me pretty deeply,” Raith said.
Before coming to JBU, Raith was an outside plant engineer for BellSouth Telecommunications, a college pastor and a lecturer at Baylor University.
Raith said the most rewarding part of being a JBU professor has been watching students understand the Christian faith in a way they never before had.
“I love those ‘wow’ moments in class when something clicks,” Raith said. “And I love getting to know students personally and being part of their faith journey.”