Winter Conference Report; Looking Forward

'Ice fishing'! (see the overhead projection screen)

Indoor ‘Ice fishing’! (see the overhead projection screen)

Worship Time

Worship Time

Thanks so much for your prayers for our Winter Conference.  Now that the conference is ‘in the books’, I wanted to provide a short report on all that God did.

More than anything, the conference provides space for our busy students and professionals to come away and be alone with Christ and each other.  As we can all attest, the craze of daily life often makes it hard to slow down and connect with God as we want to.  Through our speaker, times of worship, and plenty of space for quiet and community, our retreat is designed to be the perfect remedy for a busy life and heart.  For many, I really believe that the theme of ‘Reverse Course: Going Backward to Move Forward’ was realized.

The highlight for me – as always – is the undistracted space I have to connect with those who come.  In many ways, the weekend is like one long, wonderful conversation.  To give you a flavor, here are some quick highlights:

  • A conversation with a recent student (new professional) where we discussed a painful relational breakup he recently experienced.  I had the chance to offer understanding, as well as a challenge to not shut down his heart toward the Lord or future risks.
  • A brief interaction with a student from NY who would like to hold a ‘Doubt Night’ (skeptics and seekers express, and receive responses to, their doubts about Christianity) at her campus.  We’ve already followed-up via email, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord does through the event!
  • A conversation with a physician about her struggles to be a witness at work and beyond when members of her own family are not walking with Christ.  Mainly, I was able to be a listening ear and let her know I would pray.  In this case, I think that’s all she needed.
  • I organized a late-night ‘Denny’s run’ with about 20 from Philadelphia, something that’s becoming an annual Winter Conference tradition.  In this more laid-back setting, it’s wonderful to start seeing a new side of the students and connecting with them more personally.  We covered everything from ‘best summer ever’ to ‘what you learned from the speaker’.  I also had a great time with one of our key leaders at Penn during the car ride there and back.

Thank you for your prayers.  We are so thankful for what God did and trust that He will extend the value far beyond our weekend together.  Your prayers are such an important part of that.

With Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

PS Please pray for:

  • God to help us live out what He taught us over the weekend.
  • God’s blessing on our men’s brunch this coming Saturday.  We’ll start looking at key men from the Bible in an attempt to better follow Christ.
  • Sharon & I as we provide relationship mentoring for a key student couple.  Also, for wisdom as we evaluate the need for a seminar on relationships.
  • God to add members to our ministry ‘council’ (group of folks who minister alongside me, and help provide direction for the ministry).
  • God to provide new student leaders as our existing leaders transition out (March-April), and, that He would give me wisdom in assisting them in this process.
  • God to create a deepening sense of dependency on Him, and as a result, a greater commitment to prayer among our healthcare community.  We tend to be self-reliant but want to keep growing in this area!

Make Progress Every Day

Those of you who enjoy TV and radio may remember a recent advertising series by Verizon. The ads featured James Earl Jones and ended with the slogan “Make Progress Every Day.” Verizon aimed to resonate with what we instinctively know to be true – most of what happens takes place in small, steady and quiet increments that add up to something significant.

That truth describes ministry this past month – a consistent stream of significant, if not earth-shattering, moments of kingdom impact. Here’s a record of the highlights:

* meeting with Brian – now that leadership has transitioned at PCOM, this was a great opportunity to get to know the new fellowship president better, and to check in on his role of keeping the vision before the other leaders.

* donor networking – Sharon and I shared our ministry with a couple where the husband and wife are physicians and ministry-minded. It was refreshing to connect with others in the field who “get it” and are open to serving as time allows.

* meeting with Norm – over lunch we had the opportunity to talk much more deeply than we have in the past. It was a privilege to better understand his family and church backgrounds, his future aspirations, and what “makes him tick”. To be continued, we agreed!

* dinner with Mike & Becky – Mike and Becky, a married couple, both go to PCOM and, it turns out, live just two blocks from us. We had a wonderful get-to-know-you time over dinner at our home.

* dinner with Dr. Thomas Corson & family – we enjoyed an extended time of fellowship and discussed future possibilities for medical ministry in the city.

* meeting with another student – we talked about the challenges of purity in a sexually-impure culture. Most exciting to me is that the discussion moved beyond the ins-and-outs that are most obvious to the deeper, heart-level issues that drive them. This is the epicenter of real change!

* sharing the vision at Immanuel Leidy’s Church – at a partner church, we shared the critical importance of medical ministry at both services and the Sunday School hour. Many mentioned that our presentation alerted them, for the first time, to the spiritual opportunities physicians have as they offer medical care.

* meeting with Dr. Harry Morris – Over the past year, Dr. Morris has been increasingly involved with the fellowship at PCOM. He is the only physician actively involved in the ministry on campus, and has been a tremendous resource and model for the students. We got to know each better and spent time in prayer for one another and the students.

* presentation by Dr. Daryl Erickson – Dr. Erickson is President and CEO of MedSend, a ministry that pays off student debt accrued during medical school so that new physicians can serve on the mission field. In town for a few days, he spoke with the students about his testimony of God’s faithfulness in ways that were amazing, personal and “real”. The students came away inspired to seriously consider medical missionary service for their own careers.

* meeting with Ted – preparation for his board exams have made it harder to connect, but just today we had the opportunity to get together and check in. Although things are generally going well, I had the chance to reaffirm our friendship, and came away with some specific prayer requests to bring before the Lord.

As you can see, God has been active in small, but profound and consistent, ways. The little moments are adding up to form something beautiful, the progress of God’s kingdom among the city’s medical students. I am privileged to be your representative in this vital mission field. Thank you, once again, for your partnership!

With love,
Bryan & Sharon

Prayer & praise:

* God deserves praise for His faithfulness to His people in healthcare, and to us for the opportunity to serve them daily.

* Pray for more times of friendship and discipleship over the next month or two. This is a season where relationships that have been built over the past year or so are bearing great fruit, so it’s critical and exciting to make the most of it.

* Praise that we are now less than two weeks away from the anticipated birth of our son. Please continue to pray for the health of Sharon and the baby, as well as God’s protection against autism. (There is a presumed genetic component to the disorder, and it affects males much more commonly than females).

* Praise for a number of special gifts that have helped us attain a better financial footing recently. Please keep praying for new, regular donors so that our ministry is sustainable moving forward.