Our Ministry To Couples

Chen-Mosebrook Wedding Liz & Bridesmaids

Liz & Dave’s wedding. Sharon was a bridesmaid.

My beloved spoke and said to me,

“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”

–Song of Solomon 2:10

 

 

Tim & Tiffany - together at the rehearsal

Tim & Tiffany – together at the rehearsal

Dear Friends,

We have been blessed to be part of five weddings over the past twelve months!  There are too many joys to list, but here are some highlights:

  • having the couples over to our home for premarital counseling sessions after our kids are in bed, sharing & praying together, often late into the night
  • discussing: what is God’s purpose for marriage, anyway?

    Dan & Rachel with our five-year-old Braedon, who served as the dashing ring bearer.

    Dan & Rachel with our five-year-old Braedon, who served as the dashing ring bearer.

  • getting one-on-one time with both the bride & groom, to get to know them more deeply and care for them individually
  • premarital counseling is a great way to remember how much God has matured our own marriage, and weddings are a great time reminder of God’s covenant love!
  • watching the love grow between our children and these couples.  Braedon was twice a ring bearer, and Carissa was asked to greet guests at one of the weddings.
  • and finally, watching Bryan pronounce them “husband & wife!”
Bryan with Mike & Youna, just after pronouncing them husband & wife

Bryan with Mike & Youna, just after pronouncing them husband & wife

The verse above is the one Bryan had engraved on the inside of my wedding band nearly 17 years ago (by grace!)  As we recount God’s many blessings to us, I are reminded His gifts are rarely for us alone, but intended to also be a blessing to others.

Hopefully the photos capture just a hint of the great joy we’ve had in being involved in ministering as a family to these younger couples.  I love hosting brunch Bible studies in our home, meeting up with the individual women on campus by text, email or in person, as I’m able — as well as mentoring couples.

 

Sharon and Patricia

Sharon and Patricia

Steve and Bryan

Steve and Bryan

I feel like the blessings are all mine – but I know that’s not true! I trust God is also blessing YOU richly for your partnership in these things.  None of it would be possible without your support.  We remain deeply grateful.

    Yours in Christ,

    Sharon

Please join us in the following praises and prayers:

  • Praise God for the privilege of being involved in the lives of young couples. Pray that God sends more our way!
  • Praise God for the Grace Prescriptions course we’re using in our bible study brunches.  Students are learning to share their faith with peers and patients in their everyday, secular contexts.  One student decided to pray with patients just two days after our first session!
  • Praise God for a great Graduating Student Roundtable, where our students interacted with practicing professionals about issues they’ll soon face upon graduation.
  • Praise God for a medical student who came to Christ at an Easter service!  God used the witness of the Christian community, and getting hit by a bus (he’s alright now), to lead him to faith.
  • Pray for our campuses as leadership transitions are taking place.  Pray for us as we assist them through the transition.
  • Pray for us as we spend more time developing our ministry team.  There are so many opportunities that we need more laborers to take advantage of all that God is doing!
  • Pray for the many personal interactions with students God is giving us in person, over the phone, email and, increasingly, via texting.

 

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For The Nations, From Philadelphia

Our panel at Fall Intermed.

Our panel at Fall Intermed.

Throughout the year, we keep a pretty full ministry calendar. Sometimes, though, God surprises us.

That’s exactly what happened a few months ago when I received an unexpected call from Steve, the CEO of CCHF, Christ Community Health Fellowship, a ministry that promotes Christian healthcare among our country’s underserved populations.

He explained that CCHF’s board, comprised of physicians and leaders from Christian clinics around the country, would be here in Philadelphia for their board meeting in late September.  ‘Would it be OK’, he asked, ‘if we put together an event where his board could interact with our local students and help them gain a vision for their future?’

‘Why yes’, I replied, ‘it would be more than OK’!

So that’s what we did.  On September 20th, we held our ‘Fall Intermed’ at Esperanza Health Center around the theme of using healthcare to serve the underserved. Roughly 80 healthcare students, residents and providers from all around the city gathered to:

  • Learn about the overwhelming need for quality healthcare right here in America, and, how healthcare providers are uniquely positioned to share the gospel. (Did you know that a Gallup polls shows that people trust their physicians and dentists more than their pastors?)
  • Hear real stories of God’s faithfulness from real clinicians serving real patients in Christ’s name.  It was inspiring to see how deeply these providers love their patients and get involved in their lives, as opposed to the usual (and understandable) tendency to hold them at arm’s length.
  • Receive a strong challenge to hold onto, or rekindle, their passion for missions. So many times this is lost amidst the financial, emotional and spiritual toll training exacts.
  • Prayerfully consider – near the end of our time – a next action step to practically respond to what was shared.
  • Eat great food.  Generous contributions made it possible to eat Chick-Fil-A not once, but twice.  This might have been the most exciting part of the event.  (Just kidding!)

You may remember that 1 in 5 physicians in America (and countless other healthcare providers) passes through Philadelphia for some portion of his/her training.  As a result, we recognize that God has entrusted us with a special opportunity to share Christ’s love with the country – and even the nations – simply by being faithful right here.

Thanks to God, beginning with a surprise phone call from Steve, we took another major step forward toward reaching that goal.

Thank you, friends, for making it possible through your prayers and gifts.  Together we are making a tangible difference in the lives of the patients and colleagues our local students and providers touch every day.  As the years go by and students continue to go throughout the country, your investment is multiplying exponentially.

For the Gospel,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Please praise God for a fantastic Fall Intermed and the many people who helped it happen (especially CCHF, Esperanza and our student leadership team).  Please pray that God leads those who came to take specific follow-up steps of love and obedience in response!
  • Please pray for our upcoming Fall Student & Resident Retreat (Oct 11-12). Specifically, please ask God to lead many to register (ends Oct 1st – tonight) and connect deeply with God and others in their situation.  Also, please pray for me and the providers as we interact with students and lead sessions.  Finally, pray for Sharon as she provides a great deal of the logistical support for the event.
  • Praise God for many new first-year students throughout the city!  Each year God is faithful.  Pray that God grants discernment to know who to invest most deeply in, and, how best to do it.  We want to make a lasting impact!
  • Praise God for three student couples Sharon & I are counseling, two of whom I’ll be marrying in the winter/spring.  Pray for us to provide wise counsel, and, to model the sort of marriage we desire for them to have.
  • Finally, please pray for God’s rich financial provision.  We are at a lower point right now.  I’ll be attending a fund-raising conference Oct 28-29 to gain fresh ideas for adjusting our strategy so that we can setup the ministry to accomplish all that God has in mind.  Your prayers for the conference and resulting fruit are coveted!

 

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.

Summer Half-time Report

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s already past ‘half-time’ for our summer.  Although the students are scattered far and wide, many are in the area and we have been busy seizing the opportunities God is giving us.  Here are some first-half highlights!

Penn Dental

For years now, we’ve been trying to connect with our city’s dental campuses, Penn and Temple.  (After all, we are the Christian Medical & Dental Associations!)  However, with fewer dental students and professionals in the area, connections have been harder to come by.  Recently, though, we met Brianna and she brought 6 other Penn Dental students to our home for a night of connecting, sharing and dreaming about what it might look like to reach Penn Dental for Christ.  At the end, Brianna invited us to spend more time on campus and support them in the year ahead.

Bible Study Dinners

With so many students around, we decided to continue our bible study meals during June and July.  Although attendance is more sporadic with summer plans, we’ve averaged 15 and experienced the same great fellowship and significant interactions we’re used to all year.  This summer, our focus has been “The Things That Really Matter”, with 2 Timothy as our guide.

The Love Bug

Many of our students are in various stages of relationships, and recently Sharon and I have had the privilege of meeting with three couples this summer.  The first couple is getting married in a few days, the second is in a season of re-evaluation, while the third is somewhere in-between.  If I had to choose a theme verse for these times, it might be Proverbs 20:5: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”  Sometimes I’m not sure how much “understanding” we possess, but our aim is to shine God’s light on the ‘deep waters’ these couples are facing so that they can grow together in Christ.  It’s one of our highest joys to help them make sense of their relationships from God’s perspective.

One On One

This summer, we’ve really focused on making sure we get even more good time with students and physician friends one-on-one.  On campus, in our home, at local coffee shops… wherever it may be, personal relationships are at the heart of our ministry.  Let me share just a few examples with you.

In one meeting, a student shared about challenges he’s experienced in relating to his sister, an atheist-agnostic who’s ‘witnessing’ to him out of concern that his faith in Christ is damaging to him.  We also spent some time talking about assurance of salvation, something that’s important as he’s still a relatively newer Christian.

I also had the opportunity to meet with a physician friend who is active in mentoring students in the city.  I was impressed when he came with a list of things he wanted to talk about!  One of our key topics was talking about some challenges in mentoring relationships he’s involved in.  It was exciting not only to see him wrestling with these obstacles, but to have the chance to speak into them and give him suggestions for making progress.  This is one of the ways God is allowing us to multiply our ministry!

Thanks so much for making all this possible through your prayers, gifts and love.  We are very conscious of our dependence upon the Lord and you!

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise for a solid end to our fiscal year (June 30th).  Please pray for God’s faithfulness moving forward.
  • Praise for so many good meetings with students and physicians throughout the summer.  It’s been one of our best ever!
  • Pray for these last few weeks before the students return: follow-ups and planning with campus leaders so that ‘fall’ begins well; key discipleship times; things to come together for our fall Intermed (weekend of worship, teaching and fellowship).
  • Pray for wisdom as we continue to meet with the couples we mentioned above.
  • Pray for God’s grace in the lives of the first-year students about to arrive on our campuses.  Pray that many will seek Him, and, that those who already do will become connected to our campus ministries and good local churches.