Three ‘Nights’ And Intermed Just Around The Corner!

Doubt Night

“So, when can we do it again?!”

That’s the response we received after holding our first Doubt Night at PCOM, one of our area’s medical campuses.

You may be wondering, though, what Doubt Night is all about.  (First, credit to liberti Church for giving me the idea some years ago).  In short, Doubt Night is a time where seekers and others with questions about the Christian faith can come and dialogue honestly with Christians about their concerns.  To facilitate this, I took part in a panel that also featured Dr. Keith Herzog and two PCOM students.  Throughout a 1.5 hour discussion, we heard questions dealing with:

  • heaven – is it real?  Is it right to be moral because we want to go there, or, should we act rightly because it’s inherently appropriate?
  • the apparent contrast between God in the Old and New Testaments – why does ‘the God of the NT’ seem more gracious and loving?
  • the trustworthiness of the bible – Christians put so much faith in the Bible, but what makes it more special or reliable than any other book?

Of the 15 who came, I’d say it was about a 50/50 ratio of seekers:Christians, which is what we were hoping for.  We look forward to continuing the conversation on campus, and, in future Doubt Nights!

Men’s & Women’s Nights

Later that week, we also hosted Women’s and Men’s Nights at our home on consecutive evenings.  Sharon led nineteen women in tackling the sensitive area of sexuality and how to live for Christ in a confusing, sexually-charged culture.  The best part about the night was that it provided a safe place to deal with the questions everyone has, but is afraid to ask.  We need to speak to topics like this!

For our men’s night, nine men joined me for an exploration of the topic of why men are so passive, and, what we can do about it.  We took a look at our culture’s portrayal of men, then surveyed key bible passages that help us ‘diagnose and treat’ not only the symptoms, but the underlying causes as well.

Both nights were greatly aided by Sharon’s baking, especially the flourless mocha cake and Ghirardelli brownies!

Prayer Needed for Intermed This Weekend

This Friday night and Saturday morning, MCO and CMDA are hosting Intermed, our annual gathering of local healthcare students and professionals for worship, fellowship and teaching.  But this is not our usual Intermed.  God has allowed us to invite Dr. David Levy, neurosurgeon and author of Gray Matter, to be our speaker.  Based in San Diego, Dr. Levy is going to speak to us at Intermed, but also at other medical campuses throughout his week in our area (March 8-15).

On Friday evening, he’ll show us what it means to talk about Christ with the people around us, as well as challenge us on what it looks like to let go of anger we harbor toward God and others.  More than just raw information, though, Dr. Levy has dealt with these topics very personally in his own life and medical practice.  As we minister to students and professionals, we’re excited about offering them one portrait of who we hope they’ll become.

As you can imagine, we very much need your prayers for Dr. Levy’s visit:

  • for protection from the evil one.  Already we’ve seen evidence of spiritual resistance, and need God to protect us.
  • for the Spirit’s power as Dr. Levy speaks.  His messages will be powerful, but lasting change only happens through Christ’s work in our hearts.
  • that weary people would come away not only changed, but refreshed!
  • for God to put together “divine appointments” for Dr. Levy in between speaking engagements.  He very much wants to minister to those who need what God wants to do through him.  Pray also for me and others as we interact with students at these events; I expect that God will be giving us similar opportunities in response to his work through Dr. Levy.  We want to be His instruments of healing and change here in the city!
  • pray for all the last-minute details that need to come together.  This leads me to praise God for our entire planning team (a collaboration of students, MCO & CMDA) for all the amazing hard work they’ve done to make this week a reality!

Thank you, dear friends, for standing so faithfully with us!

Bryan & Sharon

 

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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!

Winter Conference!





Dear friends in Christ,

We’ve just returned from Winter Conference and had an absolutely wonderful time. God was clearly at work, and we’d love to tell – and show – you how.

What is Winter Conference? It’s an annual, three-day conference for healthcare students and professionals in the Northeast, including many from Philadelphia. The conference takes place at Sandy Cove Conference Center (one hour south of the city) and exists to provide much-needed opportunities for teaching, fellowship, worship and refreshment. This year, approximately 170 were in attendance (see above, upper right)!

Teaching

One of the primary goals of the conference is to help students and professionals connect their lives in Christ to their callings in healthcare. This is absolutely essential because their training insists that their faith has little or no place in their practice of medicine. Jesus, however, came to “proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal”, and told his disciples to follow His example (Luke 9:2). This year, Dr. James Avery gave three talks emphasizing both the need for Christians in healthcare to care for the body and soul, as well as the power Christ provides for this noble calling. They were the best talks I’ve ever heard on what it looks like to practically share your faith with patients in a way that is both natural and respectful. I had the privilege of concluding the conference with a fourth message on this theme (pictured above, lower left).

Fellowship

In addition to receiving solid teaching, those who attended the conference also had many opportunities for fellowship – both with the Lord and one another (see above, lower right). In this regard, the timing of the conference is everything. Midway through the academic year, many students come to the conference spiritually depleted from intense coursework, exam schedules and clinical training. By the end of the weekend, they have experienced the life-giving, but often forgotten, reality of God’s presence and support of their peers and other professionals. This year, I had the pleasure of giving (and receiving) spiritual encouragement to many in the form of countless conversations and prayer times. I was thrilled to have my family join me for part of the weekend as well. Although our stage of life limits their involvement to some extent, we remain committed to a vision of ministry that includes our entire clan!

Worship

At many points throughout the conference, we had an opportunity to respond to the talks through times of praise and worship. It was renewing and powerful to “enthrone God on (our) praises” (Psalm 22:3)!

Refreshment

With all the time for teaching, fellowship and worship, we still had plenty of room for some much-needed fun and refreshment. We enjoyed swimming, a bonfire, and other forms of recreation like football (see above, upper left) and basketball. Everyone had a phenomenal time!

On a final note, the value of Winter Conference will extend well beyond its formal conclusion both for the students and my ministry to them. It was a special opportunity to reconnect with many local students, and I will follow-up with them back here at home. I have a better sense of how I can pray for them, and what their most pressing needs are. And I have more tools to offer them as they seek to integrate their faith in Christ with their lives in medicine.

Thanks so much for investing in our family so that we can invest in these key students and professionals. We are truly grateful for each and every one of you!

Most warmly,
Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

* Praise God for an absolutely wonderful Winter Conference! This is one of the high points of the year for me ministry-wise. Please pray that the work God did there would continue now that the conference has ended.

* Praise God for his ongoing blessing on our work at PCOM (the medical school where I minister). The men’s bible study has been deepening, as have my relationships with those who come. Praise God also for a message I gave at their commissioning ceremony this past Friday night. It was exciting to see so many students clearly professing their desire to Christ through healthcare. Please pray for the students, as a leadership transition will soon take place, and for me as I guide them through it. We’re meeting this coming Tuesday for an important, initial discussion.

* Praise God that Sharon’s pregnancy continues to go well as we approach a mid-April due date. Please pray that her gestational diabetes will not affect her or the baby negatively. Please pray as well for wisdom with getting our home ready – we will probably have to be creative and “make” an extra bedroom in the basement.

* Please pray that God gives us clear guidance as we discern His next ministry calling as this transitional year starts to wind down. At this point, we can share that Bryan does not feel led to pursue a solo pastoral calling (i.e., being the only pastor at a given church), and that focusing on full-time, discipleship-oriented medical ministry in Philadelphia is the leading candidate moving forward! At the same time, we want to be certain we are following the Lord’s leading, so keep us in prayer over these next few months, as we hope to have a final direction before the baby arrives.