Built to Last: Multiplying Ministry in Philadelphia

What a month!  Last month felt like a whirlwind, and sure enough, in glancing at the calendar we had over 30 significant meetings, conversations and events, not to mention everything other members of our ministry team have been up to.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to give an overview of our ministry at our church’s Day of Prayer.  Although challenging, boiling down our recent work to just three minutes helped me gain a deeper sense for what God is doing through us.  I’d like to share the heartbeat of those reflections with you here.

A God-Sized Vision

More than anything, God keeps reminding us that His vision is far bigger, and more glorious, than ours.  We’re coming to see that aiming any lower than the Great Commission is too low.  With 20% of the nation’s physicians doing some portion of their training in the city, ministering faithfully right here is the most strategic investment we can make.  As we train our healthcare students and providers to follow Christ, some will stay and transform the city, while others will go and spread the Kingdom wherever they land.

This vision is powerfully shaping our day-to-day ministry as we place greater emphasis on ministry that multiplies.  We want to reach people who will, in turn, reach others.  One way we’re doing this is through our relationship with the International Saline process, which trains healthcare students and workers to share their faith with their colleagues and patients.

You may remember that, in December, we trained 20 local students and professionals in our first local “Saline.”  In February, 8 of those 20 participated in our first, follow-up, Training of Trainers (ToT) session where they learned to train others in the Saline process.  Just a few days ago, I sat down with 3 of those 8 – two med students and one physician – to talk about reaching their health system (Drexel) for Christ.  We agreed that we’ll start by inviting all the believers at Drexel Med to a one-hour introductory session, then follow that up with a full-blown Saline for those who respond.  Lord willing, a large core from that group will then learn how to train others.  And then…

You get the idea.  This is how multiplying ministry works.  We train others, then come alongside them as they learn how to train others.  It starts small – nearly inconspicuous – then explodes over time.  This is how Jesus transformed the world, and this is how we’ll transform Philadelphia and beyond.

Focus On People

After hearing that we are funding entirely by donations, a lot of people ask us, “What are your ministry needs?”  While we do have financial needs, I always respond by saying that our greatest need is for like-minded people to join us in accomplishing Christ’s vision for our ministry.  Like Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  What we need, more than anything, are people who know Jesus and want to join Him in His mission right where they are.

And so, wherever I go – whether it’s meeting a physician, attending a large-group gathering of students, or participating in a medical outreach – I’m always asking God to introduce me to people who can become (or already are) co-laborers in this city that He loves.  I know that, by His grace, I can serve as someone who connects them to that larger vision of winning this corner of the Kingdom for Him.

I met “Tom”, one of the students I mentioned earlier, at Drexel when I attended one of their campus fellowship gatherings two years ago.  Although his first year at Drexel was challenging, he became one of our campus leaders during his second-year, where he has really stepped up to become an unassuming, but committed, leader.  I am privileged to meet with him consistently and to invest in him during this critical season.  Tom has become an important co-laborer, and our ministry exists to find, and equip people like him!

Sharon and I, once again, want to deeply thank you for your prayers and gifts that make ministry like this possible.  In God’s hands, your investment is reaping dividends that will be fully revealed only in eternity.

Immanuel,

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in the following prayers and praises:

  • Praise God for an enormously fruitful past month of ministry, and for the privilege of reaching the key ‘people group’ of healthcare students so that they, in turn, can be equipped to reach others.
  • Praise God for Dr. Jerry Hric, our newest council (board) member.  He brings gifts in the areas of big-picture thinking and student ministry, and, like all our council members, I feel blessed to partner with him.
  • Please pray that the Lord continues to introduce us to ‘game-changing’ students who can pour their lives into others.
  • Pray for me, and the others I mention above at Drexel, as we introduce the Saline process there.   Pray especially that God brings others who will want to train others.
  • Pray also that God would give me wisdom as I help several campuses with their student leadership transitions.
  • Pray for our men’s (26th) and women’s nights (25th) this month, meeting in our home.
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Campus Kickoff, Trusting God

Drexel students Melvin, Greg & Justin get ready for kickoff BBQ

Drexel students Melvin, Greg & Justin get ready for kickoff BBQ

Dear friends,

Campus Kickoff

SO much is happening right now ministry-wise.  My days have been filled with meeting new students, mentoring, counseling, dreaming with students about new ministry initiatives, activity fairs and strategizing with campus leaders.

To give you a taste of all that’s happening, Tuesday night we had our large group meeting for dinner, worship and bible study at Drexel.  About 30 were in attendance, much more than anticipated.  We had a phenomenal time of fellowship, worship and bible study in Acts.   At my suggestion, the leaders and I are “debriefing” via email over the next several days about ways we can make the meetings even more effective.  Moving forward, I plan to join them for leadership meetings immediately before these large group events.  This year’s leaders are some of the best I’ve encountered anywhere!

Trusting God

Even as ministry is exploding, we’re going through a season of greatly diminished financial resources that threaten to severely limit my involvement on campus.  We’ve mentioned this before, but as my support team, I want to continue to keep you in the loop.

Here’s our situation:

  • as of now, we should be fine through October assuming moderate giving levels
  • however, as of November, we may not be able to take a paycheck
  • donor attrition (largely because of the economy), the need to fund our own health insurance, and a new administrative fee have created the need to raise about $2,500/month in new monthly support

What are we doing about it?  We’re keeping ministry expenses to an absolute minimum, aggressively raising more support, and trusting God like we never have before. 

I want you to know that I love this ministry, and I am excited to see God provide richly for it.

Here’s what you can do:

  • commit to praying intensely for God’s provision until we have raised the necessary support.  To jump-start this, I’m holding a pray-where-you-are event this Monday and Tuesday.  Email me at stoudtb@gmail.com if you’d like to sign up for a 15-minute slot.  Let me know when you’ll pray, and I’ll send you a list of specific requests.
  • if you are a financial donor and haven’t started giving through CMDA, my new partner organization, please take a moment to do that.  I’ve updated this site to make giving simple – just click on the “Giving” link on the right hand side of the page.
  • if you know anyone who may want to hear about this ministry, let me know right away.  Healthcare professionals are obvious connections, but others are routinely interested, too.  And, it doesn’t need to be time-consuming on your end – a few minutes of brainstorming, and a short email to your friends, is all it takes.

After being on campus these first few weeks, now more than ever I am fully convinced that this ministry is absolutely essential.  I believe that God will provide for it.  Thanks in advance for your partnership during this season of testing and opportunity!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

Another Year Begins!

Dear friends,

As another school year approaches, I’m excited to announce that this year my ministry will be expanding.  During the past year, I’ve ministered primarily at PCOM, but this year I’ll also be helping out at Drexel’s medical campus.  This Tuesday, I had the chance to meet with the student leaders from both campuses in back-to-back meetings. 

At each campus, upon the first-year students’ arrival, we have an important, but short-lived, opportunity.   Within the first few weeks, the new students will quickly form the friendships and affiliations with various clubs that will last during their two years on campus.  After that, with the intensity of their studies, it will be much harder to enter into their web of relationships.

As a result, a lot of our planning and strategizing centered around beginning-of-the-year outreach events that will help us connect with both Christian and non-Christian first-year students.   At both schools, here’s how we’ll do it:

  • hold a BBQ kickoff event where we can greet new students in a laid-back atmosphere before classes begin
  • have a table at the Activities Fair so that students can sign up for more information
  • personally follow-up with each person who expresses interest at the fair
  • offer large-group meetings that involve bible study, worship and fellowship
  • send out email reminders for the various events we offer

In all this, of course, we rely on the Lord.  He’s the One who will make our efforts effective.

During this season of spiritual opportunity, please keep the following things in prayer even more than usual.  Please PRAY:

  • for God’s protection against the evil one on both campuses.  Although appearances suggest otherwise, we know that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
  • for the Lord to amaze the student leaders and I with what God has done for us in Christ.  As we understand that, increasingly we are motivated to do His work on campus out of gratitude rather than duty.  Pray that His life will shine through in all we do, and that we will be attractive to both Christians and unbelievers alike.
  • for strength and endurance for the student leaders during this early window of opportunity.  Classes reach their full intensity immediately rather than “ramping up” gradually as they did during undergraduate work.  This means reaching out comes at a heavy price. 
  • for our student leaders by name.  At PCOM: Brian, Elizabeth, Jenn, Kristen, Mike and Norm.  At Drexel: Candice, Greg, Isaac, Justin, Melvin and Preethi; also, for Dr. Charlene Brock as she works especially with the female leaders.
  • for our newly-forming council of Drs. Charlene Brock, Jim Kirkpatrick and Rich Shoemaker.  They give sacrificially in so many ways, and work with me to reach the students.  Pray especially that the Lord shows each one his or her role, and helps us work together most effectively for His Kingdom.
  • for the Holy Spirit to make Christ and the campus fellowship attractive to the first-year students.  While the need is obvious for students who don’t know Christ, the need for believing students is very real as well.  Often they get lost in their studies and never make a full recovery.
  • me as I help the leaders stay focused on Christ and their mission during this time.  I’ll be praying intensely for them, meeting individually with leaders, calling them to stay true to their vision, strategizing as problems arise, and providing guidance on many levels.
  • that God helps me make my family a priority even during this busy time. 

As you can tell, although I always rely on your prayers, I’m really leaning on you for this first month of the academic year.  Here are some specific dates to keep in prayer beyond the general, everyday needs:

August 11th – Drexel Activities Fair

18th – Drexel’s first large group meeting (mainly to connect with second-years)

24th – Drexel’s BBQ

25th – Drexel’s 2nd large-group meeting (first time most new/first-year students will attend)

27th-28th – PCOM’s Activities Fair

September 1st – PCOM’s first large-group meeting

September 19th – PCOM’s BBQ

Thanks so much for standing with us during this exciting ministry season.  We’ll keep you posted!

Bryan & Sharon

PS  Please be sure to see my previous post (just scroll down) about new giving information.  If you have any questions, feel free to let me know!