The Best Week Ever

Just this morning, Dr. David Levy drove off to New York City for the final stage of his East Coast trip.  It marked the end of a wonderful week of ministry in Philadelphia, so I wanted to provide you with a brief report of his time here.

Intermed

This was our biggest event of the week, with well over 100 in attendance on Friday and Saturday.  In addition to our usual student population, we made an effort to attract more residents and graduates this time, and we made good progress on that front.

Without exaggeration, the talks by author and neurosurgeon Dr. Levy were some of the best I’ve heard in a long time.  His messages on sharing faith with those around us, forgiveness and joy combined humor, real-life experience, Scripture and specific application in a very special way.   At the end of the sessions, he walked us through practical exercises on forgiveness and letting go of offenses that created an atmosphere that was, at once, both serious and light.

After the exercise on forgiveness, one student said, “Up until now, I’ve been angry with my mom, but I couldn’t really say why.  Dr. Levy’s practical examples helped me put words to my anger so that I could confess it and forgive my mom.”  She was almost giddy with joy as she shared, and many related similar stories.  God was at work!

Campus Events

In addition to Intermed, Dr. Levy spoke at the Temple, UMDNJ-SOM (Stratford, NJ) and Penn medical campuses.  These were exciting events, with an unusual mixture of Christians and others at various points in their own spiritual journeys.

At SOM, about 55 people came out to hear Dr. Levy speak over dinner.  Jasen, one of the student leaders, had attracted a unique group of believers and spiritually-open folks from the school and surrounding community.  One student said the presentation was the best he had heard the entire year!

Later, 12-15 of us went back with Dr. Levy to the Hrics’ home to continue the conversation over dessert.  Dr. Hric and his wife Susan have made their home a ‘safe place’ for people seeking truth, and our time together there was phenomenal.  Dr. Levy invited each of us to share our spiritual journey, starting with our experience growing up.  One student, honest about being agnostic, expressed his respect for the humility he’s observed in Christians.  He understands the connection to the Christian faith, where our God, though strong, came to serve the weak.  The next day, another student texted me, saying “last night was the most enriching night I’ve had in a very long time, possibly ever.”  I’ve heard testimony today that those came are still telling others and that there’s an overall buzz and excitement!

It’s really hard to communicate in an email how absolutely wonderful this week was.  Everyone who participated came away challenged and encouraged.  ‘Friendships with a purpose’ were created and renewed.  And, there has been a real synergy created by so many people coming together for a common purpose.

Thank you, thank you for your prayers!  Please keep praying that God continues working, and that we intentionally engage others, in the weeks ahead!

Amazed by God,

Bryan & Sharon

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International Saline Launch!

From small beginnings come great things.

— American proverb

Thanks to all of you for praying for our International Saline (medical evangelism) seminar this past weekend.  God exceeded all of our expectations, and we have every expectation that He will do tremendous things through this “small beginning.”   Here’s a report on what God did in and among us:

Our Group

God gave us an enthusiastic, diverse community this weekend, including 14 students from 5 campuses, 5 physicians, a nurse, biomedical researcher, nuclear physicist, nurse’s aid, flight surgeon, economist and pastor (me)!   Although our time was relatively short, God quickly knitted us together and we enjoyed the interactive focus of the training.  Several mentioned how important it was to hear real-life stories from others who were present.

Come Away & Rest

Our seminar site, the National Christian Conference Center

Our seminar took place at the National Christian Conference Center, just 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia.  Located on a spacious, 200-acre site, we enjoyed the restful, quiet setting for our time away.  International Health Services, co-sponsor for the event, did a phenomenal job in supporting us logistically for the event so that participants could simply ‘show up’ and learn.

Putting Theory Into Practice

A 'patient' (l) faces various 'barriers' in her quest to see 'Jesus' (behind Dr Snyder, l)

Everyone absolutely loved the training, finding it to be a great balance between foundation and practical skills that will help them share their faith in everyday medical settings.  These quotes from the evaluations will give you a feel for how people responded:

[I liked] the emphasis on being both salt and light, that the gospel is about a way of life and long-term relationships, rather than [unnaturally] pushing for a faith decision.

[I appreciated the] emphasis on witnessing to patients being an outflow of the heart and natural reflection of our love for Jesus.

The approach presented was biblical, relevant and full of practical, useful tools.  I am so blessed by God through this.

Starting A Movement

Bryan enjoying one of many interactions at the seminar

While the participants came away energized and equipped, the ultimate goal of the weekend is to equip participants to train others right where they are.  To that end, we are holding a local follow-up event we call “Training the Trainers” for this very purpose.  Already, those attending from Drexel, Jefferson and the Hudson Valley/New York City area are making plans to pass the training on! 

As you can see, God moved powerfully throughout the weekend.  Thank you for your prayers and gifts – they truly made this a small, but great, beginning!

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in praying for the following, related requests:

  • First, praise God with us for a simply fantastic weekend, and for the many folks who made it possible!
  • Please pray that God would give participants a deep passion for Christ so that they will naturally share all that God taught them from the weekend.  Pray also that He will help them implement the practical steps they committed to as part of the process.
  • Pray also that the Lord would multiply the training as participants conduct their own, local trainings in the spring and beyond!
  • Finally, pray that the Lord raises the remaining funds ($1,700) to cover the costs of the weekend.  If you would like to help, you can let me know via email (stoudtb@gmail.com).

Moving Forward, Moving Outward

God continues to bless our ministry richly and beyond all that we can imagine.  As I reflect on what He’s doing, the theme of moving the ministry forward and outward comes to mind.  Here are some highlights from the past month –

Temple Pharmacy

Two updates ago, we mentioned the desire to reach new healthcare campuses in the city.  Well, God has begun to answer that prayer!  When I shared about our ministry at one local church, I met several Temple pharmacy students, as well as Kay, a practicing pharmacist.  They did not, however, know each other, and I recently had the opportunity to introduce them over a lunch meeting.  I was thrilled to hear that Kay is excited in investing in these students and helping them grow in Christ.  Over time, I’ll do all that I can to support Kay and the students as they move forward in their relationship.

Talk at Drexel

Several months ago at SMI Texas, I gave a talk about our need for more rest, and how we can find that in Christ.  I mentioned our need to take more ‘down time’ – something healthcare students understandably find very challenging – but also to find rest from the constant temptation to prove ourselves by what we accomplish.  In God’s kindness, the talk apparently made an impression on some of the Drexel leaders who were present, as they have now invited me to give the talk not only to the Christian fellowship (“CMA”), but also to their unbelieving peers, on Nov. 30th.  I’m excited about this new challenge and opportunity!

First-ever Philadelphia International Saline

In my last update, I shared with you my excitement stemming from my trip to Kiev, where I received some outstanding training in medical evangelism (“International Saline”) from Dr. Bob Snyder.  Now, on December 3-4, Dr. Snyder and I will co-lead the first-ever Philadelphia International Saline training.  In fact, this is the first time the training has ever been offered in the U.S., and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Although we have just 25 openings, already 12 have firmly committed, with others ready to sign on.  Since part of our goal is to create a local, outward-oriented community, we’re holding the training overnight to allow for more interaction among those who come.  We’ll follow-up the workshop later with a “train the trainers” session to teach everyone how to become trainers themselves!

As you can see, God continues to pour out His blessing on what He’s called us to.  I feel like we’re at the beginning of something far bigger than we are, and we are eager to continue sharing the journey with you, wherever it – He, really – leads!

For the gospel,

Bryan & Sharon

Here are some praises & prayer requests –

  • praise God for allowing me to connect the Temple pharmacy students with Kay, the graduate pharmacist.  Pray that they will run with that connection, and that God will grow the group in His timing.  Currently, the group consists of 6 students, all women.  Pray also for a natural outreach opportunity there, which the students deeply desire.
  • praise God for the chance to address the Drexel students on the topic of balancing rest and work.  Ask God to give me wisdom in preparing and in giving the talk.  I want to be practical, but also share how Christ alone can give them the deep rest they desire.  Pray also for the Spirit’s power, Who alone can give impact to what I share.
  • praise God for putting the International Saline conference together!  Beg God to draw the ‘right’ people, and to help those who come have excitement for training others.  Pray also for funding – we’re trying to raise $2,500 so that students who come only have to pay for their materials.
  • Finally, we thank God for providing a little more funding this month than we anticipated, as well as some new committed support.  We are now at 88% of what we need (in terms of pledges), and I can almost taste the finish line!  Please pray that God quickly provides the remaining $1,000 per month we need.  If you’d like to start contributing, or renew your commitment, you can do that right here.

To Philadelphia & Beyond – Update on Kiev Conference

From left: Promise, me, William, Aaron

In my last post, I mentioned my trip to Kiev (Sept. 24-27) for an International Saline Training Conference.   Our group featured twenty participants (mainly medical students) from eight countries, and I had a phenomenal time. Now that I’ve returned, I want to provide you with this update.

The International Saline materials have one purpose:  to train healthcare workers to share their faith in real-life medical settings. Since workers have very limited time with patients in any one visit, effective training must equip them to talk about spiritual concerns within these limits.

Among other critical topics, the conference introduced us to eight strategies, or “tools”, to address this very challenge. “Faith flags” are one of the most useful, and will give you a flavor for the training. Simply put, this tool is a short statement in the course of normal conversation that identifies you as someone who values the Lord, prayer or other similar concerns. They are short (max: 30 seconds), and look for a response from a patient, but do not demand one.

For example, if a patient mentions that she’s having a hard time with a recent diagnosis, her physician might say, “I faced a similar situation in my life and the only thing I can remember is that God helped me.” If the patient shows interest, the physician can go deeper; if not, at least the door has been opened for future conversations. Best of all, this is something nearly every healthcare worker can do in nearly every interaction with patients. Everyone at the conference left with a profound sense that “I can do this!”

Equally exciting, the conference equipped us to teach the materials to others. This, of course, is why I attended. To give you a sense for the potential impact of the training model, consider this:

An ideal conference size is 20 participants, and we plan on offering it twice a year in Philadelphia. If we train 40 people a year, over the course of 30 years we’ll have trained 1,200 healthcare workers who will, in turn, reach many patients for Christ. Not bad, right?

What if, however, each of those 40 participants trained just one other person per year? In that case, in just over 30 years we will have reached the entire world! While we don’t anticipate it going quite this smoothly(!), remember that 1 in 5 physicians in America (not to mention others in healthcare) passes through Philadelphia for some portion of their training.  Some will stay and transform the city, while others will go to the “Samarias” and “ends of the earth” that God is calling them to (Acts 1:8).  By being faithful right here, we can change the world.

In closing, thanks again for standing behind us and this vital ministry.  Your investment of prayers and giving is reaping an eternal harvest that only God Himself can comprehend!

For the King,

Bryan & Sharon Stoudt

Please join us in praying for these concerns:

  • Praise God for a simply tremendous conference in Kiev.  Join me in begging God to pour out His blessing on me as I begin to offer the training in the months ahead.  Pray that God will draw the ‘right’ people, and that He will give them a passion to train others!
  • Please continue to pray fervently for our support levels.  With the economy still recovering, our account is nearly at a break-even point and I increasingly find myself needing to pull back from ministry opportunities.  If you are behind in your giving, or, would like to start contributing now, you can find out more by clicking here.