People in the community just assume you’re here for you. There are a lot of preconceived notions, but if you’re willing to get uncomfortable, they can be worked through.
In November, I invited Pastor Larry Smith and Hakim Pitts, members of a church near Temple Med, to come to Temple’s campus fellowship and share about what it’s like to live in the surrounding, underserved community.
What they shared was, to say the least, eye-opening for all of us. Seeing family members die at gunpoint. Struggling to make ends meet. Watching shiny new buildings go up across the street yet feeling that the people who work and study there don’t care about you.
At the same time, despite the many disconnections between us and the community, Hakim and ‘Pastor Larry’ gave us hope that things could be different. That we could bless the community, and, that they could bless us… if we are willing to ‘go first’ and ‘get uncomfortable.’ (Sounds like Someone Else I know).
With that promise, we invited them to speak again recently, this time to a broader audience at Temple that included people from the administration and students outside our campus group. While many who came don’t share our faith, they do share our heart for the community. Toward the end, it was exciting to see many brainstorming about how we can specifically improve the school’s relationship with the community. It also seems likely that they will return to address each year’s students.
This event is part of a much larger picture of what God is doing in the area – and – us. The students in our campus group, for example, recruited 20 of their peers to teach science regularly at a local elementary school that has few resources due to city budgetary cuts.
In Jeremiah 29, God tells His people to ‘seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’. While there are obvious differences between the original hearers’ circumstances and our own, this passage certainly means that we need to care about the place where God has planted us, and, that our well-being is connected to that of those around us.
This is not how we usually think, of course. It’s all too common for students to parachute in, get their training, and then get out, moving on to wherever they’re going. This is entirely understandable, but it’s not a Jeremiah 29 approach. Especially at a place like Temple, where the community’s needs are so clear and the opportunities to learn from it are so great.
And so, with God’s help, I’m committed to helping our students ‘go first’ and ‘get uncomfortable’. My heart is that they will graduate not merely with clinical competence, but with God’s own heart for those around them. It just may be that some of the most important lessons they learn during medical school take place outside the confines of their classrooms.
As we always do, we want to take a moment and say thank you for making all this possible through your generous prayers and gifts. You are an essential part of this ministry!
Bryan & Sharon
For prayer & praise:
- Praise for God’s faithfulness in all He’s doing in and through our Temple students. And, further praise for the many others who are involved in other aspects of the work. Please pray for wisdom as we consider next steps, and, for me as I help others implement them.
- Praise for new leaders at our area campuses. All but one of our new teams has at least four leaders! Please pray for Penn, which would be blessed as others step up. And, pray for me as I try to shepherd each team through this transitional season.
- Finally, please pray for good times of mentoring over the next month, before students go home for the summer, or, move on to rotations.