Campus Leadership Summit!

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Campus Leadership Summit 2014!

Campus Leadership Summit 2014!

Over recent months, God has challenged us to think about how we can focus on what we do best, and, where we can bring unique value to the students and professionals in our area.  With 8 different campuses, we want to have an increasingly clear focus on what matters most!

Without a doubt, one way we can ‘mak[e] the best use of the time’ is to invest in our student leaders.  Since they impact others in their campus fellowships and experience nearly 100% turnover each year, equipping them is one of our highest priorities.

This past Saturday, along with Medical Campus Outreach (MCO), God allowed us to do exactly that.  Fifteen students from 7 of our 8 campuses joined us for a half-day event that exceeded our expectations. In addition, a resident and three professionals currently supporting the students joined us for portions of the day. Later, one of them shared this:

I was glad to come! Thanks for organizing it! I was able to get in some catching-up with [two of the women], and to hear the Temple guys out as they formed their “keys to the game” for the coming year – both very excellent things!  Especially that last little bit was helpful and I feel more aware of their priorities for the coming year and also more able to be involved. 

Here are the topics we emphasized:

  • What Matters Most: Your Walk With the Lord
  • Servant Leadership (led by Steve Munz, MCO)
  • 12 Principles of a Successful Campus Leadership Team
  • Everyone’s Back: Now What?  (Reaching First-Year Students, Establishing A Clear Vision)

Throughout the day, we allowed for small group sessions by campus so that the leaders could personalize what we discussed.  Afterwards, I emailed some key follow-up questions and will touch base on them as I go around to our campuses.

All in all, it was a tremendous time of teaching, fellowship and application.  We trust that God will multiply our small investment in the months to come.  Thank you, dear friends, for making it possible.  You are an absolutely essential part of our team!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in praise & prayer for the following:

  • Praise God that the students are back!  And, that the Campus Leadership Summit went so well.  Pray that God helps our leaders apply a few things God impressed upon them, and, that he helps me (Bryan) follow-up faithfully.
  • Praise God for a new (to me) ministry car.  So thankful!
  • Please pray for great wisdom as I visit all our campuses as much as possible this first month.  I need God’s help in discerning what each campus’s leaders needs are, how I can help, and, which men to start/continue investing in.  Pray also that God helps Sharon connect with the women He has in mind.
  • Pray for many first-year students to get involved: they are the future of our campuses and next year’s leaders!
  • Pray for new donors, and, our overall account balance, which is lower at this time.
  • Pray for Intermed (teaching, fellowship, worship for local healthcare students and professionals; domestic missions theme) on Sat. 9/20 from 9a-1:30p at Esperanza’s Hunting Park location.
  • Finally, pray that many students and residents would come out to our Fall Retreat on 10/11-12.  We’re praying for 25 to sign up, in addition to several professionals to serve on a panel and connect with those who come.
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Strengthening Our Foundation

Dr Jim Reynolds, sharing with the students during one of our last brunches for the semester

Dr Jim Reynolds, sharing with the students during one of our last brunches for the semester

Now that June is here, our students are either gone or engrossed with finals or board exams.  Thus begins our summer, which will last until the students return in mid-August.

Although we miss them tremendously, it is also a special season where God gives us time to strengthen our foundation, the part of our ministry that, although unseen, provides the basis for the more obvious, public parts of our work.  In this update, we’d like to let you in on part of that foundational work.

Our Council 

Without a doubt, the volunteer healthcare professionals that help us in our work are a critical part of our ‘foundation’.  Some serve on our ‘council’ in an official capacity where they play various roles – working with students, spear-heading new ministry efforts, and/or, helping me think through issues and vision on a more strategic level.  Over the summer, I check in with our council to see how they feel about the role they’re playing, and, how we might work together to put them in a place where their gifts, time and talents may serve the Kingdom best in the context of our ministry.  

Residents Ministry

One of those new offerings is our ministry to residents, those who have graduated from medical school but still have (approximately) 3-7 years of further training before becoming full-fledged physicians.  Working roughly 80 hours per week, they are busy, but need to continue connecting with God and other Christians so that, at the end of their training, they will be in a position to serve their patients and colleagues.  (And, simply be in a healthy place themselves).  

To that end, I’m thankful for Drs Alex & Kim Lin, who have agreed to take the lead with this.  We’re busy identifying residents in the area and will then invite them to a ‘welcome picnic’ on July 12th, where they’ll have the chance to meet others in their situation and hospital for future connection.  In addition, we’ve been asking them what would serve them best given their unique situations.  No doubt there will be lots of trial, error and adjustment along the way, but we’re excited we can take steps to support them in this critical time!  

Growing Our Support Team

This past year has been one of tremendous blessing, but it takes an increasing amount of resources as our vision grows.  Sharon, for example, has been serving as our part-time administrative and ministry assistant (focusing on our women) for roughly 9 months now. She has been such a blessing to our work that it would be hard to overstate her impact.  At the same time, her salary, in addition to normal donor attrition, has led to the need to increase our support base.

So, over the summer, we plan on asking you, our current supporters, for the names of a few others who might want to hear about our work.  It’s also a fantastic opportunity to catch up and hear how we can be in prayer for you and your family!

Well, there you have it.  A short, but representative, look at the unglamorous yet essential work on the foundation we tend to during the summer.  The truth is that you, through your quiet prayers and gifts, are also an important part of that foundation yourselves.  Without you, the whole house would crumble in a second!  But with you, each day God is adding to it in ways that only He can fully comprehend.

In Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise God for the conclusion of another year of phenomenal student ministry at our 8 campuses.  Many, many signs of God’s work in and through our students!
  • praise God for the blessing Sharon has been to our work as her role has expanded.
  • please pray for the informal summer gatherings on 6/22 & 7/20 at our home.
  • pray that God helps us to identify our Christian residents (they can be difficult to find due to busyness and isolation), that they can attend our welcome picnic on 7/12, and, that we can figure out how to best serve them throughout the year.
  • pray that God connects us with new individuals and churches who will support God’s work through us.
  • pray that God provides me (Bryan) with another car.  Mine recently died and we are working on a very limited budget in finding a new one.  (Let me know if you hear of anything!)

 

 

Ministry Seen & Unseen

This past month was another excellent month of ministry.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Engaging those on the journey

Not everyone I (Bryan) interact with on campus is a Christian.  Increasingly, God is giving me opportunities to talk to students still trying to figure Jesus out.  Recently, I’ve been meeting with one student who shared that, while he thinks that Christianity’s central message is true and sees much good in it, his faith is still “like a jigsaw puzzle with a few missing pieces.”  I told him that I will pray for God to bring clarity and encouraged him to join me.  Please pray with us!

Leadership transitions

With this year’s leaders starting to study for boards, we have now seen leadership transitions at all our area campuses.  I’ve been meeting with many of them to help them develop, and implement, a strategy specific to their campus and am always available as questions come up.  I also check in with our leaders to help them stay focused on the vision and maintain balance among their key priorities.

Ministering to couples, together

One of the greatest joys Sharon and I have in ministry is working together.  In addition to one couple we’ve already been meeting with for pre-engagement counseling, Sharon and I will be meeting with another medical student and her fiancé for pre-marital counseling.  Please pray that God gives us wisdom as we try to wisely “speak into” these relationships with God’s truth and grace.

Under the hood

If our ministry were a car, its body would be our ministry on campus.  It’s the essence of what we do and the part everyone sees.  And yet, like a car, its performance ultimately depends upon what lies “under the hood” – the engine, the transmission and other crucial, yet largely unseen, parts.  In our ministry, the engine and transmission are our council, campus laborers and supporters.  I’d like to lift up the hood for a moment and give you a quick peek inside.

Over the past few months, our ministry council, responsible for providing accountability and reaching our campuses with me, has lost two of its six members due to time constraints.  While these two members will continue serving on campus, they simply don’t have enough time to play a larger role in the ministry.  Please ask God to raise up additional members, and especially a chairperson.

Campus advisers are volunteer healthcare providers who are willing to share their lives with students as they journey through their training.  They provide encouragement, mentoring and a living example of what it looks like to walk with God in medicine.  Just this past week, I enjoyed an extended meeting with Jefferson’s campus adviser where we caught up on what we’re doing there, the leadership transition and how we can work together to see God’s work thrive there.  Quiet moments like these are vital to the campuses’ ongoing health.

Finally, our supporters are so crucial in providing the prayer and financial infrastructure that makes it all possible.  We received a major encouragement this past week when a significant donor committed to a sizable monthly gift, freeing me up to focus on the core work of our ministry.

Regardless of the particular role God has called you to play, if you’re receiving this update you are part of our team, a vital, if hidden, piece of what lies “under the hood”.  We want you to know that we see, and appreciate, all that you do on our behalf.

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

PS Beyond the requests in the update above, please pray for:

  • Summer gatherings, and times of discipleship, we’ll be having with those students who are staying around.
  • Details to come together for an overnight, fall retreat.  A great way to help new students get plugged into their campus groups up front!

Update on God’s Work

This update is a series of short updates on what God is doing through us.  You’ll find a short report, and prayer requests, under each section.

On Campus

As March draws closer, we are now solidly into the ‘core’ of the semester.  “The grind” of the academic calendar is starting to take its toll on many, bringing problems to the surface.  God has given me a number of opportunities to counsel students going through relational challenges.  These included thorny dating issues, and some tension on one of our campus leadership teams.  By God’s grace, all of these situations are heading in the right direction!

Campus leadership team transitions are also taking place.  This has already occurred at PCOM, and will happen at Drexel in early April.  Please pray that God provides momentum at PCOM after a slower start, and that God gives us wisdom in selecting excellent leaders at Drexel.

In a previous email, we mentioned our hope that a physician friend of ours would be coming to the area so that we could continue expanding our ministry.  In God’s wisdom, our friend will complete the next stage of his training in New York, rather than Philadelphia.  We view this as God’s wisdom, though, and already we’ve seen signs from believing physicians at Penn (where we had hoped to expand) that they are increasingly ready to step up and do more with the students.  Please pray for this effort, and one of our council members, Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick, as he provides leadership.

Pray also for an interfaith forum taking place at Drexel on March 25th.  Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Paul Tripp, so please pray that God helps him present the gospel in a compelling and relevant way.  Pray also that the believing students follow-up with their peers, and that believing students from other campuses come out.  My hope is that each of our five medical campuses will get excited and do something similar in the 2010-11 academic year.

Support-Raising

The Lord blessed us with a phenomenal December, and we met our budget for the year!  THANKS SO VERY MUCH to all of you who contributed, and especially to those who were able to give something extra.  God has also blessed us with $650 in new monthly support since January 1st.

Please keep praying for new monthly partners, and contacts, as we continue progressing toward full-funding.

Summer Plans

This summer, our family is praying about several missions opportunities, both involving students from Philadelphia.  The two primary opportunities are the Summer Medical Institutes (SMI) in Texas (7/3-31) and Philadelphia (6/12-26).   While we have been to the project in Texas before, the Philadelphia site is beginning again as a pilot project that we hope to expand in future years.  (I have enjoyed serving on its planning team).  At this time, we believe that SMI Texas would be the best option for our family since we would be able to live onsite with the students for an entire month, whereas the Philadelphia project is shorter, and its housing cannot accommodate us.  However, the financial cost (approx. $7,000) for SMI Texas is significant, and it would take time away from our summer support-raising efforts, so please keep this matter closely in prayer.  We know that, however God leads, we will be blessed.

On that note, we consider ourselves blessed to have each one of you on our support team, regardless of the role God has led you to play.  Please know that we are deeply thankful for you!

Bryan & Sharon Stoudt

Summer Bible Study!

Dear friends,

PRAYER ALERT!  We’d like to enlist your prayer support for a new venture this summer. On Tuesdays evenings this summer (starting tonight), we’ll be opening our home to area medical students for a free meal, fellowship and bible study.

This is a unique opportunity to increase our ministry, especially to the first-year students.  They are off for the summer — no classes, no rotations — and are therefore unusually available to participate in a weekly Bible study.

Pray that many would come, and come away challenged and refreshed.  Pray that our home would be welcoming, and a place of fellowship for the students.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would lead the students into a deeper, richer walk with Christ.  And pray that the Lord would use these relaxed gatherings as a springboard for further ministry opportunities in the fall.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for standing with us!

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

PS As our support structure will be changing in July, we’ll be in touch with those details soon.  Please pray as they are finalized.

July Update

Dear friends,

We hope that your summer is going well, and that you’ve been able to enjoy some ‘down time!’ Now that we’re starting to settle into our new ministry position, we wanted to touch base with you on a few things.

God at Work in Students

During the summer months, the students are busy with various projects, and many are away. Still, it’s possible to keep in touch and build relationships with them so that we can hit the ground running when they return to campus. I’ve been doing that with many, and here are a few encouraging comments I’ve received:

Thanks for all of the hard work! I don’t know were we would be without your time spent on helping us.

Thanks so much for checking in on us. Everything here is going really well [here at SMI]… I can’t wait to share more with you when I get back. Please pray for [my wife] and I to find comfort/growth in the Lord during our short separation (the next 3 weeks), and also for the Lord to prepare the hearts of those we will be ministering to both here in Texas and down in Matamoros. Thank you so much for everything.

Bryan, I feel in many ways I’ve been blessed with men in my life that I trust with my weaknesses and you are one of them, so thank you.

As you can see, God is at work through our efforts and we are blessed to know that He’s using us to make a difference. We can’t wait for the fall!

The Transition Period

Until the students return in late August, our priority is communicating with our supporters (in other words, you!) about our transition. For those of you who support us financially, hopefully you’ve received a call from us and we have answered your questions on how you might continue to support us financially. If that hasn’t happened yet, would you please get in touch with us either by phone (856.524.2126) or email (stoudtb@gmail.com)? If any of you have questions on our transition (regardless of whether you support us in prayer or financially), we continue to be available to you. We’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to connect with many of you more personally.

We’re also in the process of recruiting new members for our support team. Our goal is to have our full support pledged – and received – so that we can focus our energies on the great mission the Lord is calling us to. Our current goal is $1,000 per month, mostly to replace natural attrition in our support base.

Refining the Scope

In our recent updates, we’ve mentioned that our new calling will focus on two groups – (1) medical and university students in Northwest Philadelphia, and (2) younger people at and around our new church, Pilgrim (also in NW Philadelphia). Among the first group, we also mentioned that there are four potential campuses in the area where we could concentrate our ministry. Since we’ve last written, we believe that the Lord is sharpening our focus to mainly focus on two of those campuses, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and Philadelphia University (“Philly U”). We’re excited because this narrowing will allow us to draw upon our experience with both medical and undergraduate students, and make a deeper impact at each campus.


Notes on Contributions

Thanks so much for your ongoing support – your generosity allows us to impact lives for Christ, and we are tremendously grateful! On a practical note, we wanted to address a few questions that have continued coming up over the past several weeks:

Q: Can I keep contributing through Tenth Presbyterian Church, your former church? If not, where can I send my contributions?

A: We know that, for some of you, giving through the offering plate at Tenth made it easier to contribute. Going forward, please send all contributions to: Pilgrim Church * PO Box 35184 * Philadelphia, PA 19128, and mention “for the Stoudts” on the memo line.

Q: Electronic giving helps me be consistent with my contributions. Can I still do that?

A: Probably. Although Pilgrim Church can not initiate monthly electronic transfers, you can (probably) initiate such a transfer with your financial institution in the same way that you would pay your bills automatically/electronically. For most banks, this is now a free service. The bank would need Pilgrim’s account number so just let us know if you’d like that by replying to our email (stoudtb@gmail.com).

OK, that’s all for now. Please know that we love you, and are grateful for your partnership in this ministry!

Warmly,
Bryan & Sharon