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!

The Power of Prayer

An Unexpected Gift

Darn it! Before I knew it, our newly-sharpened kitchen knife had sliced through my thumb. There was no way to stop the bleeding. As I came to grips with the reality that I’d be visiting the emergency room, I thought about all the things I wanted to accomplish that day, but now couldn’t. My annoyance grew by the minute.

On my way out the door, my wife pointed out that God was giving me some “down time.” Although I half-heartedly agreed, on the inside I was steaming. Down time! I don’t need down time – I’ve got things to do! Spending the afternoon in the ER didn’t seem very efficient to me.

Ironically, I’d been reading Paul Miller’s “A Praying Life” in an attempt to improve in that area. Although the book is about prayer, it’s really about the way we relate to God and how that drives the way we pray (or don’t). “Efficiency, multitasking and busyness all kill intimacy,” he writes. “In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly.” In the relative silence of the ER, I realized, too often I relate to God “on the fly”, in-between ministry(!) and family commitments.

Then the thought occurred to me, more powerfully than I had wished. We’re all in the same boat, me and the students I minister to – so often driven, independent and proud. Although I hide it well, even from myself, instantly I sensed if I really want to grow in prayer, and help the medical students I reach do the same, then I need to slow down and make more time for the Lord. An afternoon of frustration turned into one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in a long time.

Living It Out

In God’s providence, we’re in a season where the students are (understandably) preoccupied with exams and boards. They are too busy to get together. However, it’s a great time to apply what He’s been teaching me by praying for the students in a more intensive way. It’s an opportunity to minister to them in a season of devoted prayer, lifting them before Our Father’s throne where they will receive mercy and grace in this, their time of need.

I invite you to join me in praying for the students on campus during this challenging time. I’ve included some specific praises and prayer requests below to aid you in partnering with me this way. May we grow together in understanding that Who we know is far more significant than what we accomplish!

Ministry Developments

As we move forward in our ministry to healthcare students and professionals, we have been looking for opportunities to partner with a ministry tailored to this specific calling. I’m grateful to report that we are currently pursuing a partnership with the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) in Philadelphia. (CMDA is the leading, national ministry of its type). Our ministry will continue to place a heavy emphasis on reaching the city’s healthcare students, including those at PCOM where we currently minister. As the situation unfolds, we’ll be in touch with details such as where to send support, but for now please continue sending your contributions to Pilgrim Church (information on the left side of this page).

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise God for his good work in my life! Please pray that He will use it to bless the students richly. (And may He similarly bless those of you who join me in prayer!)
  • Praise God also for his generous provision through a few large contributions that have allowed us to catch up financially. Please pray for new partners moving forward.
  • Praise God for the encouraging discussions we’ve been having with CMDA. Please pray that the Lord helps us reach a common understanding concerning ministry partnership in the near future.
  • Pray for the graduating, fourth-year medical students who will soon find themselves in challenging residency programs. Pray especially that the Lord draws them closer to Himself, and also surrounds them with solid churches and true Christian fellowship.
  • Pray that the students who are preparing for boards and exams will be attentive to God’s voice in the midst of studying, and that the pressures they are facing will draw them even closer to Him.
  • Pray for God’s Word to be food and meat in a dry land for those same students.
  • Pray by name for the PCOM leaders: Brian, Norm, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Kristen and Mike. May they remain firmly planted in streams of living water in a time of famine, so they can lead others by both word and deed!