Recent Happenings

As we approach Thanksgiving, we are thankful for another great season of ministry. Here are some highlights since we’ve last written!

Fall Student Retreat


Our healthcare panel addresses the theme of work and life balance at the fall retreat.

In October, we held our first-ever citywide fall student and resident retreat.  After several years of prayer, God finally opened the door and allowed us to move forward!  We had an absolutely fantastic time as we considered the theme of rest. Dr. Josh Uy and I shared the teaching, and a panel composed of graduate healthcare providers interacted with the students in sharing how they balance the demands of their careers and families.  We also had plenty of relaxed, informal time together.

Global Missions Health Conference

2013 Philly Global Missions Group (2)

Our Philly group at the 2013 Global MIssions Conference!

Earlier this month, I joined a group of about 20 healthcare students and professionals on a road trip to Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Global Missions Health Conference, the largest medical missions conference in the world.  Beyond picking up fresh ideas for our area ministry and networking, the best part for me was spending lots of time in meaningful conversation with people from our local healthcare community.  It was especially rewarding to meet with former students, now medical residents throughout the country, to see how they’re doing and have the opportunity to speak into their lives again. They are a living picture of what our local healthcare community is all about – investing in those God sends us in the hope that they will go out and carry the Great Commission forward!

Expanding Our Team

God continues to bless our ministry with growth and expansion!  Although sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the Lord(!), he continues to provide committed co-laborers.  In the past month, Dr. Neil Pitts, a pharmacist, has joined our ministry council, bringing a heart for the underserved, students, and a desire to help us wisely partner with those at our schools who may not share our faith commitments. In addition, Sharon has been hired as our part-time ministry assistant.  I’m biased, of course, but I can’t imagine anyone more qualified both to serve our women and capably assist with the growing number of administrative tasks!

Deep, Lasting Change

Perhaps more than anything else, we passionately desire that those we reach change in lasting ways that better enable them to serve God and those around them (the two greatest commandments).  By God’s grace, we are witnessing this on a regular basis and it brings us such great joy.  Here are some recent examples: one student has seen that he tends to keep others at arm’s length, but now he’s moving toward the difficult people in his life and helping them change.  Another has appreciated more deeply how fully he’s accepted in Christ, which has given him courage to ask for help and ‘be himself’ in his campus fellowship, which in turn is opening new doors for personal ministry.  Still another is struggling in a new city, but wants to take specific steps to stay connected to God and others where he is, rather than hoping to find it elsewhere as he has in the past.  Although often quiet, we are privileged to be on site as the Spirit works in the lives of those around us.

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, we are especially grateful for you, our friends and support team.  We hope you are encouraged by the fruit of your investment!

Giving thanks,

Bryan & Sharon

Please lift up these praises and prayers along with us:

  • Praise for a great fall Intermed, fall retreat, Global Missions Health Conference and so many relationships where God is at work!
  • Praise for God’s provision of Dr. Pitts for our council and Sharon as our ministry assistant.  Please pray for wisdom as they begin their new roles.
  • Pray for a strong year’s end financially so that we are positioned well for the coming year.
  • Pray for God to give wisdom as our team meets with students for times of discipleship and mentoring.
  • Pray that God helps our leaders and I conduct ‘halftime evaluations’ in December and make any necessary adjustments for the spring.
  • Finally, pray that the Lord leads many to attend our annual CMDA Northeast Winter Conference (Jan. 17-19) for refreshment and transformation.  Please pray also that God provides generous funding for the event, always a challenge since we subsidize students’ attendance.

Investing Like Jesus Did

One of the most rewarding experiences in ministry is watching those we’re investing in invest in others.  Like Jesus, our deepest passion is that God would take our efforts and multiply them through our students.

More and more, God has been answering this prayer.  We’d like to give you an example of what that looks like through Tim, one of the local student leaders.

Over the past year and a half, Tim and I (Bryan) have been talking about the importance of pouring into others.  Tim has always been open to this, but over the past several months he’s truly taken consistent steps that are making a difference.  Here are a few excerpts from emails he’s sent me as I’ve touched base with him about ‘Johnson’, one of his classmates:

One of the things we talked about was how do you really know God as our Father. One thing he felt was that he knew the right things to believe, but hasn’t ever really felt it in his heart with conviction, hasn’t really felt like a real relationship with God… one thing that I shared with him was the importance of spending time with God, reading in his word, asking him to help us know him better, and then just laying down our expectations of whatever “experience” [we might have] and see how He shows up with us. So for some practical steps, Johnson decided to read 3 chapters each night going through Luke, and I’ve been helping to keep him accountable with that. And so we’re just praying for God to birth something new in his heart and that it grows into a real life-giving relationship.

In thinking through the way Tim has been relating to Johnson, I was impressed.  He did all the ‘right’ things: took initiative in the relationship, asked good questions in drawing him out, and provided encouragement balanced with practical steps for growth.  At their next meeting, Tim continued this pattern, the result being that Johnson decided to let his pastor in on how things ‘are really going’ so that his pastor can continue shepherding him.

If he weren’t going to be a physician, Tim would make a great pastor.  Then again, it’s precisely as a physician that Tim will have many opportunities to engage people just like pastors do – right where life and suffering meet.  This is what the Great Physician did and it’s exciting to see our students following His example.

Sharon and I would like to thank you for enabling us to invest in students like Tim so that they, in turn, will invest in others.

Serving the Great Physician,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise God for Tim – and others like him – who are catching the vision for investing in their peers.  Please pray that many more do as well.
  • Praise God for those who have served as campus leaders since last spring.  Over the next month, our campuses will select new leaders to replace them, so please pray that those God is calling to serve will step up.  And, please pray that God grants me wisdom in helping the transitions go smoothly.
  • As medical schools are currently in the process of making admissions decisions, now is the time to pray that God gives special favor to those who already know, and, those who are seeking, Him.
  • Finally, please pray that God gives us grace as we start to plan for two new events, a fall retreat and relationships seminar for the students.  We’re excited and will share more as events unfold!

Beyond What We Can Ask Or Imagine

As the end of the year approaches, our family and partners in ministry are grateful for all that God has done in and through us this past year.  We’re already looking forward to another great year, beginning with the students’ return in early January and our CMDA Northeast Winter Conference, where students and professionals from the region will gather together for a weekend of encouragement and refreshment over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.

For now, though, I want to encourage you that your prayers and gifts are making a tremendous difference.  As you know, throughout the semester we have been hosting 20-25 students from the area for an in-home bible study breakfast and study of Jesus, MD, a book by our CEO Dr. David Stevens.

At the end of that book, Dr. Stevens shares about how God worked in nearly-miraculous ways to provide a hydroelectric dam for the mission hospital (Tenwek) where Dr. Stevens served some time ago.  For many years, the dam had seemed like a pipe dream, entirely out of reach because of the exorbitant expense.  And yet, God “showed up” in unbelievable ways so that this need was finally met, allowing critical medical equipment to operate throughout the night, thus literally saving many lives.

In our study, this hydroelectric dam has become a tangible symbol for what the ‘impossible’ things God wants to do in and through the members of our group.  At the end of our final meeting for the semester, Sharon and I were humbled as the students presented us with a card of appreciation.  But it wasn’t just any card.  It was a pop-up card, made by one of the students, featuring a representation of the hydroelectric dam from Jesus, MD (pictured above)!  The gratifying part was not so much that we were thanked, but that the students are “getting” how great God is and what He wants to do in and through them.  This is why we’re in ministry!

We can’t wait to see what “hydroelectric dams” God may have in store for us in the coming year.  Be encouraged that God is at work, and join us in praying that He will meet and exceed our expectations, as He always does (Ephesians 3:20).

With prayers for a grace-filled Christmas and New Year,

Bryan & Sharon

God At Work!

Some of the students from our last home bible study

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Many of you will recognize that line from a familiar Christmas song (yes, it’s a little pollyanna), but I feel that way every August and September when our students come back to campus.  This is the time when we meet the first-year students we’ve been praying for, and, renew friendships with those who are returning.  This is the season for intense planning and strategizing, a time I meet with campus leaders and figure out what initiatives we need to take.  And this is the time where I’m looking for up-and-coming leaders, people who will change the face of Kingdom medicine for the next generation.

Now do you see why I love it?!  Let me give you a few quick snapshots of this “most wonderful time” as we’ve experienced it over the past month.

Developing Leaders

I love working with our campus leaders.  It’s a huge challenge because, every single year, the turnover is 100%.  Our leaders have only been on campus for one year when they ‘take over’, and, half of that year has been spent adjusting to the rigors of med school life.  Furthermore, the student leaders are juggling leadership with an academic load that some estimate is five times as intense as college.

As you know, though, huge challenges bring huge opportunities.  Since I’m here for the long haul and involved with various campuses, I bring a unique perspective to the table.  I sit down with the leaders and/or graduate faculty volunteers and help them figure out how we’re going to reach their particular campus with the particular people and hurdles God has placed before them.

At Jefferson, for example, I had the privilege of being invited by (faculty advisers) Dr. Loren Chen and his wife Anne to take part in a mini leaders’ retreat they hosted at their home.  Sharon and I were able to offer suggestions on developing an agenda for the weekend, and I joined them for lunch and part of their planning session.  It was wonderful to watch Loren and Anne do such a phenomenal job, and, to start developing relationships with the leaders.

In It Together

Our involvement with the Jefferson retreat illustrates a subtle, but real, change in our ministry God has been directing for some time now.  Although we still do a lot of ‘hands-on’ work with students, more and more we feel called to help others shine where they are.  Without a doubt, there is so much potential medical ministry in Philadelphia that it will take an army to accomplish!

Last year, for instance, I met Jasen, then a first-year student at “SOM”, a medical school just across the river in South Jersey.  I asked him to get together in an effort to both understand his fellowship’s needs and how we could help.  It became clear that there was a need for graduate advisers, but also that I could not serve that role consistently due to my other ministry responsibilities.

That’s where Dr. Jerry Hric has stepped up.  Jerry is one of our newer council members, and ‘just happens’ to live 10 minutes from SOM’s campus.  He and his wife also have a huge heart for students, and they have started hosting students – Christians and others – at their home regularly.   At a planning meeting last evening, 12 students – now leaders – showed up at Jerry’s home and decided to meet weekly on campus for sharing and fellowship, as well as getting together weekly for bible study in Philippians.  They aim to involve all 60 students signed up for the fellowship and spend nearly half their energy on outreach.  Just last year, SOM’s fellowship was really struggling.  Isn’t God wonderful?!

Our heart is to walk alongside people like Loren, Anne and Jerry to bless and encourage them in the ministries God is giving them.  In this way, the Kingdom spreads in ways that we could never dream of accomplishing on our own.

Home Bible Study 2.0

As I mentioned above, Sharon and I are still involved with students directly.  We’re especially excited about our home bible studies, which started a week ago.  They’ve been well-attended in the past, but during the summer we decided it was time to more intentionally equip those who come to reach those around them.  To do that, we’ve asked them for a greater commitment – to come consistently, be vulnerable with each other, meet every 3 weeks (instead of 4), and, do some ‘homework’ in-between meetings.

With that in mind – as well as a 9am start time – we expected a smaller turnout.  What happened, though, was just the opposite!  Twenty-four students from all over the city attended, not to mention several who wanted to come but couldn’t!  Needless to say, we’re looking forward to our next meeting later this month!

We hope that gives you a nice snapshot of what God has been doing.  THANK YOU for playing such an important role through your prayers and giving.  We could never, ever do it without you!

For the Kingdom,

Bryan & Sharon

Please praise & pray with us:

  • Praise for a huge turnout for our first home bible study breakfast!  Please pray that God draws many back next time (Sept. 17th, 9am), and that those who come develop an all-out passion for reaching the people around them for Christ.
  • Praise also for the opportunity to meet the new students as I visit our various campuses, and, to invest in many of our leaders.  Please pray for wisdom to develop further relationships with the leaders and to speak into their situations in a way that furthers their ministry.  Pray along the same lines for our relationships with the graduate advisers.
  • Please pray, too, for the many meetings I’m having with key men from around the city.  Please ask God to help me help them become difference-makers for the Kingdom.
  • Pray for several students who are “seekers” at one of our campuses, especially that believing students in their lives would continue to represent Christ faithfully to them.

What It’s All About

Dear friends,

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Tim 2:2

One of the ‘secrets’ to Paul’s ministry was his strategic investment in younger men who became pastors at the churches he planted. By pouring his life into other godly men, Paul reached the known world in his day, even claiming that the gospel “has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23). What a vision for ministry!

During this last year, God has given me the opportunity to make a similar investment in our intern, Brian Pugh. At the beginning of his internship, Brian had just graduated from seminary, and was eager to test his gifts and gain practical ministry experience. His wife’s commitment to a career in medicine made serving medical students with MCO an especially appropriate match.

Brian did an outstanding job throughout his internship. He led bible studies, preached the Word, mentored younger men, and provided guidance for one of our campus fellowships, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). I was especially excited to see him discipling several younger men in the fellowship, and noticed the difference in their lives as a result. He also expertly-administrated our annual Winter Conference – no small undertaking considering 250 were in attendance!

Throughout the year, Brian and I met together for friendship, encouragement, and discipleship. This gave us time to process what God was doing in his life during the internship. Here are some things that the Lord taught and confirmed for him:

  • that he likes to do a variety of things, rather than having a ‘niche’,
  • that he works best on a team, rather than alone,
  • that he has a heart for God’s Word and sharing it with others,
  • that he is passionate about mentoring other men, and
  • that he is good at administration and delegation.

These were invaluable lessons that have prepared him for the next step, and I feel privileged to have been part of his journey this year. My prayer has been that the Lord would take His investment in me and share that with Brian. By God’s grace, I believe that God has answered that prayer.

As for the “next step”, Brian will be heading down to Nashville, Tennessee to work with InterVarsity’s Graduate Fellowship. He anticipates splitting his time between graduate and medical students there over the next three-four years. Undoubtedly, the Lord will use him to reach other students who will then, in turn, reach others. In this way, the small investment I made in Brian this year will lead to significant fruit for many years to come. This is what ministry is all about!

Thank you for your own investment in me, and our family, through your prayers and gifts. Through men like Brian, your faith and love are reaping great rewards.

In His Love,
Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise God for His good work in and through Brian and his internship. Praise God also for bringing us together for this past year. Pray for Brian as he transitions to Nashville in late May and begins raising support for his ministry with InterVarsity.
  • Pray for us as we enter the ‘home stretch’ with MCO. Pray that we would finish well and do all we can to prepare it for this next season after our departure.
  • Continue to pray for us as we seek God’s leading for a new ministry position. We have a strong option, but want to make sure it is His will for us!
  • Please pray for our son Matthew, as he has been exhibiting both destructive and (some) obsessive-compulsive behaviors at home and school. Pray also that we love him, and show him Christ’s patience.