Recently, a friend was talking with Sharon about our ministry with Medical Campus Outreach. He asked, “So, what do you do?”
Since we came on board with MCO last summer, most of our newsletters have given glimpses of this ministry and its vision, but this friend’s question made us realize that perhaps it would be helpful to give you a bigger picture of the vision of this ministry, and our role within it.
Q: What is Medical Campus Outreach’s (MCO) vision, and why is it so important?
A: Our vision is for “building laborers on the medical campus for the glory of God”. We endeavor to come alongside the medical students, nurturing believers to greater maturity in Christ while equipping them to reach out to others with the gospel.
Our focus is on reaching out to the five medical campuses located in Philadelphia, as a strategic way to reach the entire field of healthcare. What makes this a strategic investment?
1. One-in-five physicians nationwide will come through Philadelphia for some portion of their training. This means that by reaching medical campuses in Philadelphia, we are reaching the nation for Christ.
2. Healthcare professionals play a critical role in their patients’ lives. Since medical personnel often relate to their patients at moments of crisis and spiritual receptivity, it is vital they be “always be prepared to make a defense to who asks [them] for a reason for the hope that is in [them] (1 Pet. 3:15)”.
3. Various pressures make living a life of faithful discipleship in medicine exceptionally hard. MCO exists to come alongside future healthcare professionals to remind them that it is possible to maintain a vibrant life in communion with Christ and other believers.
Q: How do you carry out this vision?
A: We carry out our vision in two main ways – in our ‘everyday’ ministries at the medical campuses, and through our more infrequent, “critical events”.
On an everyday basis, we support ministries at each of Philadelphia’s medical campuses by:
▪ recruiting volunteer staff members to come alongside the campus leaders at each school, offering guidance as they make important decisions, including how to reach out to non-Christians in their midst.
▪ discipling, or mentoring, students so that they, in turn, can disciple others.
▪ connecting campus leaders with quality speakers for their large-group gatherings, sometimes providing the teaching ourselves.
▪ supporting and/or hosting bible studies for the students.
▪ connecting students with local, Bible-believing churches
▪ connecting students with other medical professionals for their encouragement and growth as healthcare providers.
We also offer three “critical events” throughout the year:
▪ “Citywides” – Once each semester, we hold these events for the five medical schools. Some citywides are intended to provide times of fellowship among Christians medical students and teaching on a topic concerning the intersection of faith and medicine. Others are geared toward outreach, giving a place for the Christian viewpoint to be heard on a given “hot topic” in medicine, for example.
▪ Winter Conference – Held each year over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend (mid-January), this conference is like an extended, in-depth citywide where we explore more deeply an issue of medical discipleship. This is also a vital time of refreshment where students reconnect with their peers before beginning another intense semester. The conference has grown to draw attendees from up and down the eastern seaboard—last year we had a crowd of about 300!
▪ Summer Medical Institute (SMI) – Without a doubt, this is the most important thing we do all year. For the month of July, we take 30-40 students on a medical missions trip to Texas and Mexico. There, they conduct medical outreaches in both locations, learn how to share the gospel with their patients, receive in-depth teaching on being a Christian healthcare professional, experience transforming life in community, and learn from the example of visiting medical faculty.
Q: What is your exact role within this vision?
MCO has only two full-time positions: a director (me) and an administrator. Therefore, I have various levels of involvement with all the ministry aspects described above, including everything that is required to see them carried out. Of the various ‘hats’ that I wear, I enjoy discipleship with our staff and students, teaching, and planning for MCO’s future the most. As we finish the support-raising process, I will be able to devote more time to these roles.
This, then, is who we are and what we do. We hope that this update gives you a fuller picture of the exciting vision God has given us for ministry to medical students in Philadelphia. As always, please accept our most heartfelt thanks for your love, prayers, and support!
For the Healer,
Bryan & Sharon Stoudt
P.S. – We also wanted to update you on our support-raising efforts. At this time, we need to raise about $750/month in new support. To keep moving forward, our greatest need is to meet others who may want to hear about our ministry. Please let us know if you can think of anyone we might connect with to share our vision!