Changes!

For those of us in the Northeast, this past week or two has finally brought a change in the weather.  We’re still experiencing a colder day here and there, but temperatures are now generally in the range worthy of the designation ‘spring’.

It may be coincidental, but, spring is also always a season of change for our ministry.  We’d like to share just a few of them with you here.

Bittersweet goodbyes.  On March 21st, our graduating fourth-year students went through ‘the match’, the process that determines where they’ll spend the next 3-5 years of their training as residents.  Although most are moving on to new locations, we’re thankful that a few are staying close.  Without fail, there are always some surprises as the computer algorithm works its magic.  (Under the Lord’s direction, of course!)

Jen, a graduating student from Jefferson, was one of this year’s pleasant surprises. We’ve know her really well for these last four years and watched her serve as a key leader at her campus.  Along the way, God led Jen into an interest in general surgery, a specialty that definitely fits who God has made her.  But, we (including Jen) didn’t expect her to match here in Philly, so we were overjoyed we learned that she’ll be with us for another 5 years!  Although most of our other students will be going to other locations, we trust that God will multiply what we and others invested in them during their time here.

New campus leaders.  Each year, each campus fellowship gets an entirely new leadership team as the year’s current leaders move on to their clinical rotations, (generally) month-long experiences where they learn about the different branches of medicine.  Every year, we marvel at God’s faithfulness in providing for each campus group new students who are ready to step up and serve.  Over the next few months, we’ll be meeting with the new leaders, helping them discover and implement God’s vision for their particular campus.

One Constant.  Throughout all the changes, one thing remains the same: our call to invest deeply in the students God has given us.  Currently, Sharon & I are involved with ‘couples counseling’ (i.e., pre-engagement or -marital) for 6 different student couples, one of whom I just had the privilege of marrying.  In thinking through my schedule for the next few weeks, I realized that I have been meeting with about 15 men on an (at least) somewhat regular basis.  Sharon invests in many of our women.

To mention just one example, recently I had the chance to meet up with ‘Jeff’, a local student leader over a cup of coffee.  The group is fairly new, and I had the opportunity to not only rejoice with him over its successes, but also to suggest what it might look like for the group to keep moving forward.  We discussed the need for more intimate community, connection among the men, and, identified outreach opportunities as a key medium-range goal.  I also had the chance to show Jeff that the confidence he can have in Christ is a key step forward in his growth as a leader, something that will make him more effective not only now, but as he moves throughout his training.  I feel so privileged to speak into, and encourage, the students God has given us!

So, as we head toward year’s end, many changes are taking place.  And yet, we are staying focused on our core priority of investing in students’ and leaders’ lives. Thank you, dear friends, for making it possible through your prayers and gifts!

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for four wonderful years with our graduating, fourth-year students, and, for God’s faithful leading toward their next stage of training.  Please pray for us as we invest in them for these last few months, and, that God provides solid mentors and churches for them in their new (as of July) locations.
  • praise for new leaders for each of our campuses.  God is faithful!  Please pray that God gives wisdom as we begin investing in them.
  • Pray for Sharon & I as we mentor/disciple the different students God has called us to invest in.  We need discernment to see where God wants to encourage and challenge each one (or couple).  Pray that the Spirit takes our admittedly small efforts and powerfully multiplies them for His glory and their good!
  • Finally, please pray for our next student brunch tomorrow at 9am.  We continue to focus on the topic of ‘sharing our everyday faith every day’.  This semester, practicing professionals are joining us and sharing their real-life experiences to help the students gain a vision for this area.
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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

panelists

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.

Fall Intermed Update & More

Intermed Update

One constant feature of our ministry here in Philadelphia is change.  Students, residents, fellows and even professionals come and go at God’s leading.  Because healthcare training is comprised of many transitions, we made this the theme of our most recent Intermed, a gathering of local healthcare students and professionals for teaching, worship and fellowship.

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Drs. Jim & Thanh Kirkpatrick share about their own transitions at Intermed.

Drs. Jim & Thanh Kirkpatrick shared about their own transitions, both personal and vocational, during a great message that challenged those who came.  It’s vital for students to hear personally from those who have walked with Christ down the same roads they are about to travel.

Worship during Intermed.

Worship during Intermed.

Intermed, though, is about much more than the message. It’s also a time of connecting with others, worshiping together, and, processing the message in community during small group time.  By this measure, the event was a tremendous success!

Turning Point

Now that we’re well into the semester, we’re going through a (small) transition of our own.  I’ve visited all our campuses (at least) a few times, met the new first-years, reconnected with our returning students, and helped our leaders develop and implement a strategy tailored to their campus.  After this season of intensity, Sharon and I turn our attention to investing in the relationships formed in August/early September.  From now through early December, we’ll be going deeper with students, helping them to live out the gospel in the day-to-day grind of their everyday lives.

To give you a feel for what God is doing through us, I wanted to share (with permission) a portion of an email we received from one of our closest student friends, following a good conversation with him:

‘Thanks for today and for chatting and musing along with me… [and helping] me do a 180 degree on the recent “wilderness” trek I’m going through — I definitely was lost in the sense I didn’t (and still don’t really) see God’s hand in my life in a tangible way, but when you said that God is blessing me in this moment, I definitely realized that was so true — He loves me so much that He is allowing me to go through this period, molding me and shaping me more into His image; what else can I really ask for, right?’

It’s our tremendous privilege to be in relationships where we can have meaningful conversations like the one above.  While we feel our weaknesses and limitations, God seems to use the questions we ask, the attention we give, and, the encouragement we offer to make a consistent difference, and for that we give thanks.

On that note, we would be remiss if we didn’t end without giving thanks for you, our support team.  Intermed and the relationships we have are only possible because of our prayers and gifts.  May God bless you many times beyond all that you’ve given!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

Here are some prayers and praises for this month:

  • Praise God for a terrific Intermed, home bible study brunches, many new first-year students, and, many wonderful times on campus.
  • Pray for our student overnight retreat Oct. 12-13.  Specifically, please ask that God helps students connect with Him and one another, and, that God blesses Dr. Josh Uy & myself as we speak on the theme ‘Rest for the Weary’.
  • Pray for wisdom and fruit as Sharon & I turn our attention to deepening relationships with students, especially our campus leaders and first-year students.

Summer Roundup

Summer Ministry

Since many of our students are unavailable during June and July, these are good months for getting to areas we ordinarily don’t have much time for, such as support-raising and ‘big picture’ thinking.  We’ve found this is critical to having a successful year of student ministry.

At the same time, God is still giving us many wonderful, personal interactions.  To take one example, we have continued summer bible study dinners in our home, with one more to go.  The Book of Malachi has been challenging us deeply on what it means not only to believe the ‘right’ things, but also to live them out.

God has also continued to bless our community development efforts near Temple.  This past semester, with some assistance from other community leaders and I, students from our Christian fellowship at Temple taught 12 science lessons for two seventh-grade classes at a local public school.  Recent budgetary cuts have left the school without any certified science teachers, so their efforts were especially welcome.  In addition to blessing the children, we are praying that some graduate with a vision for serving Christ in underserved, urban environments and believe this is already happening.  This is just a small part of what’s happening in this arena, so stay tuned!

Loose Ends

If you’re one of our donors, now you can access your giving history, print donation receipts and even update your profile history (such as current address).  Here’s how.  (Note: our Donor Tools website is cmdaphiladelphia.donortools.com).

Some of you have requested not to receive general mailings from CMDA, our parent ministry. You may contact Maggie Combs (maggie dot combs at cmda dot org) and simply ask to opt out.

We’ve also recently created a Facebook page and website for our CMDA Philadelphia ministry. Check them out and let us know what you think!

As August draws near, we’re looking forward to meeting new students and connecting with those who return.  Thank you for your prayers and gifts that make it all possible!

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in lifting up the following prayers and praises:

  • Praise God for a solid end to our fiscal year and for donors who support us well.
  • Praise God for excellent summer bible studies in the Book of Malachi, and, pray for specific, lasting fruit in student’s lives.  One participant shared, for example, that God has been showing him how serious his sin is and how deeply he is in need of everyday rescue.
  • Pray for our student leaders to stay closely connected to Christ over the summer, and, to continue planning and praying for the fall.
  • Pray for God to be working in the lives of incoming first-year students so that they are receptive to our ministry.
  • Pray for wisdom as various leaders, students and I try to discern next steps in reaching out to the community near Temple.  There are many moving pieces and it’s clear this mission cannot be accomplished in our own strength.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Summer is here!  Our first-year students have finished with their exams, second-year students are either studying for ‘boards’ (comprehensive exams necessary to continue with third-year) or starting rotations, and, things are relatively quiet here.  Sort of like the shore at the end of the season.

But not quite.  There’s still plenty to do, like:

  • Give thanks for another great year of student ministry!  This year, in addition to supporting our 5 major campuses, we also started connecting with, and supporting, several new ones: Arcadia (formerly Beaver), Penn Dental, Temple Dental, and, Temple Podiatry.  We enjoyed discipling/mentoring many individual students, developing leaders and helping them reach their campuses, hosting students in our home for bible study brunches, and, provide relational counseling for couples.
  • Give thanks that our ministry ‘council’ (healthcare providers who work alongside me in ministry, also providing encouragement and accountability) doubled from 3 to 6.  This has been such an incredible encouragement and greatly increased what we’re able to do.
  • Hire a part-time ministry assistant.  God’s continued blessing has led to greater administrative and relational ministry needs, especially with our female students.  We hope to hire an assistant by August when our academic year begins.
  • Raise support.  Along with other increased costs, hiring a ministry assistant will require us to raise additional funds.
  • Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Prepare for fall Intermed and our first-ever student overnight retreat.  We’re asking God to use these events to refresh our current students, and, to enfold new students into our fellowships quickly.

  • Continue meeting with students.  While many students are away or busy with rotations, some have limited availability and we plan on taking advantage of that!  We’re also hosting 5 gatherings for the students over the summer as we study the Book of Malachi and the theme of spiritual refreshment.  This past Sunday, we concluded our study with ‘designer s’mores’ and great discussion on the patio late into the night!
  • Help our current leaders get ready for the new year.  Although we’ve already discussed vision and strategy for the first few weeks back, during the summer I will continue to touch base with our leaders so that we’re ready for this narrow, yet critical, window of opportunity.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do… and pray for.  Will you please join us in bringing these concerns before the Father over this next month?

Thank you for being a largely unseen, but so, so critical, part of our ministry.  We look forward to seeing you in July with another update!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

Going First, Getting Uncomfortable

People in the community just assume you’re here for you.  There are a lot of preconceived notions, but if you’re willing to get uncomfortable, they can be worked through.

2013-04-08_12-37-39_400[1]In November, I invited Pastor Larry Smith and Hakim Pitts, members of a church near Temple Med, to come to Temple’s campus fellowship and share about what it’s like to live in the surrounding, underserved community.

What they shared was, to say the least, eye-opening for all of us.  Seeing family members die at gunpoint.  Struggling to make ends meet.  Watching shiny new buildings go up across the street yet feeling that the people who work and study there don’t care about you.

At the same time, despite the many disconnections between us and the community, Hakim and ‘Pastor Larry’ gave us hope that things could be different.  That we could bless the community, and, that they could bless us… if we are willing to ‘go first’ and ‘get uncomfortable.’  (Sounds like Someone Else I know).

With that promise, we invited them to speak again recently, this time to a broader audience at Temple that included people from the administration and students outside our campus group.  While many who came don’t share our faith, they do share our heart for the community.  Toward the end, it was exciting to see many brainstorming about how we can specifically improve the school’s relationship with the community.   It also seems likely that they will return to address each year’s students.

This event is part of a much larger picture of what God is doing in the area – and – us.  The students in our campus group, for example, recruited 20 of their peers to teach science regularly at a local elementary school that has few resources due to city budgetary cuts.

In Jeremiah 29, God tells His people to ‘seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’.  While there are obvious differences between the original hearers’ circumstances and our own, this passage certainly means that we need to care about the place where God has planted us, and, that our well-being is connected to that of those around us.

This is not how we usually think, of course.  It’s all too common for students to parachute in, get their training, and then get out, moving on to wherever they’re going.  This is entirely understandable, but it’s not a Jeremiah 29 approach.  Especially at a place like Temple, where the community’s needs are so clear and the opportunities to learn from it are so great.

And so, with God’s help, I’m committed to helping our students ‘go first’ and ‘get uncomfortable’.  My heart is that they will graduate not merely with clinical competence, but with God’s own heart for those around them.  It just may be that some of the most important lessons they learn during medical school take place outside the confines of their classrooms.

As we always do, we want to take a moment and say thank you for making all this possible through your generous prayers and gifts.  You are an essential part of this ministry!

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise for God’s faithfulness in all He’s doing in and through our Temple students.  And, further praise for the many others who are involved in other aspects of the work.  Please pray for wisdom as we consider next steps, and, for me as I help others implement them.
  • Praise for new leaders at our area campuses.  All but one of our new teams has at least four leaders!  Please pray for Penn, which would be blessed as others step up.  And, pray for me as I try to shepherd each team through this transitional season.
  • Finally, please pray for good times of mentoring over the next month, before students go home for the summer, or, move on to rotations.

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!

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!

God At Work: Fall Intermed 2012

Our speaker, Dr. David Suh

One of the most exciting things about our ministry is that God seems to know – and provide – exactly what we need at just the right time.  This was certainly the case at our recent ‘Intermed’ event, where 95 healthcare students, residents and professionals gathered for worship, teaching and fellowship.

At the center of our time together, Dr. David Suh (Cancer Treatment Centers of America) provided two excellent talks on what it means to receive, and then give away, God’s love.  In fleshing that out, his call to examine the ways we ‘put God in a box’ was incredibly challenging.  By sharing his own testimony, Dr. Suh helped us look at our own lives and see if we, too, often assume that God can’t or won’t do more than we can do on our own.  As a group, we tend to rely on our own intelligence and ability to get things done, so his teaching reminded our healthcare community that God intends to do ‘far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ (Eph. 3:20).

During the event itself, God ironically (and appropriately) did just that.  Throughout the second talk, God was powerfully stirring our hearts and

Intermed Small Group Time

we spontaneously decided to have a time of large group prayer, led by Dr. Suh.  It was refreshing to connect with God right there, repenting of sins that had been holding us back and asking Him for new power as we move forward.  As I visit our area campuses, I’ll be touching base with the students and seeing how God continues to work through our time together at Intermed.

Drexel Doubt Night

While it’s critical to reach students of faith on our campuses, we also want to reach out those who are searching.  Last Tuesday at Drexel, I had the opportunity to participate in a ‘Doubt Night’ with a local physician (Dr. Keith Herzog) and pastor (Rev. Steve Munz).  Together, God gave us the opportunity to field questions from the audience about why we believe Christianity is true.  While nothing dramatic took place, many good questions were asked and it gave the students and I an opportunity to follow-up with people afterwards.  I’ll be having lunch with one student who is seeking, something I’m looking forward to.

Regardless of who we’re interacting with, we’re thankful for you, our supporters, mindful that we are extensions of you in reaching Philadelphia’s healthcare campuses for Christ.

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

For praise & prayer:

  • Praise for God’s work at Intermed & Doubt Night!  Praise also for the many, many people who made Intermed a success, especially our student leadership team.  Please pray for ongoing fruit – that God would convict hearts about areas of growth, and, that seeds planted at Doubt Night would sprout.  Pray also that the Drexel students and believing faculty would be prayerful as we follow-up with those who came.
  • Praise for a still-forming group of male healthcare students from around the city who are eager to figure – and live – out what it means to live as a Christian man.  Please pray that God would give discernment for next steps.
  • Please pray also for a good year-end financially and spiritually with the students.  I want to help the leaders do a ‘halftime report’, seeing how things are going and making any necessary course corrections.  We also look forward to our last brunch for the semester on 12/8.
  • Finally, pray also that God would be preparing hearts for our annual CMDA Northeast Winter Conference 1/18-20.

Another Great Start

It’s hard to read the words, but these are index cards the Jefferson leaders used to map out their ministry vision for the year.

 

It’s hard to believe, but already another year is well underway!  This year, I’m spending time at 7 different campuses, so this has been an especially intense, but wonderful, season of ministry.  Here’s a quick roundup of what’s going on.

 

How Are We Going To Strengthen This Ministry & Reach This Campus This Year?!

Since we experience 100% leadership turnover on each of our campuses every year, helping our leaders develop and carry out a vision for their campus is a critical, and significant, part of my ministry.  Although many issues – like outreach – occur at all of our campuses, the key issues tend to take on a specific flavor at each one.  At Temple, we’re beginning to partner with local healthcare providers and pastors in an effort to holistically reach the surrounding community.  At Penn Dental, the students are re-launching the chapter after a few years of relative inactivity, so we’re wading through what that means.  Drexel is trying to reach their campus community more actively, hosting a ‘Doubt Night’ and possibly participating in a forum on abortion.  And Penn (Med) is asking what it means to include other believing healthcare (i.e., nursing) students in their ministry, but with an eye to helping them launch their own, independent ministries in time.  I really enjoy coming alongside the students and helping them meet the particular challenges, and seize the specific opportunities, that God lays before them!

Building Relationships

For this first month or two, it’s so important to build relationships with new, and returning, students.  As the cliché goes, “people have to know you care before they care what you know!”  The primary way we care for the students is simply by “showing up” on campus, or, inviting students into our home.  Already, we’ve hosted two Saturday morning brunches, with 20-25 in attendance each time.  I’ve been to each of our campuses, some a few times, for their activities fairs, large group meetings, leadership meetings, individual discipleship times, and, just to “hang out”.  Sharon and our kids have also joined me as they’re able so that students can start connecting with them, too.   As we build these relationships, trust grows and ministry moves forward.

Intermed

As you may remember, each year (sometimes twice) the students gather for a citywide time of fellowship, teaching and worship through song.  This fall, it’s been my privilege to put together, and guide, a phenomenal team of students as we get ready for this effort.  While at first summer breaks and busy schedules made coordinating calendars challenging, God has given us real momentum and things are moving forward nicely.  God led us to a theme of experiencing, and giving away, His love.  This is our passion and prayer.  But more than the event itself, the process leading up to the event is an amazing ministry opportunity to invest in our very best leaders and help them learn how to think about, and do, ministry so that they too will be ready to guide ministries on their own someday.  We want to raise up leaders who will raise up others leaders, the chain continuing until Christ returns.  This is how the Kingdom moves forward!

So, there’s a quick snapshot of what God is up to.  There’s so much more to share, but we’ll say more in future updates.  Thank you, as always, for your love, prayers and gifts that make this ministry possible.

With deep gratitude,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for so many new students; pray that they keep coming out, and, that God shields them from getting consumed by their studies.
  • praise for faithful leaders at each of our campuses; pray that God helps us discern where we need to provide guidance at each campus, and, how.
  • pray for new discipleship relationships for Sharon and I to form with the incoming (first-year) women and men (respectively).
  • pray for Penn Dental in particular as they re-launch their ministry this year.  Each class (there are four) has different schedules, making coordinated efforts challenging.
  • pray for our Intermed team as we move toward our fall gathering (Nov. 2-3).  We need God’s Spirit to guide us!  Pray also that God will help me mentor our students throughout the process.  Our heart is that their vision for the Kingdom expand, and, that they will become equipped to teach others what they are receiving.  And, that God will be glorified in it all.