Summer Snapshots

Chao & Stoudt Crop

Chaos & Stoudts at the rehearsal dinner

Sharon and I recently took a self-paced DVD course in photography. Although we’re not exactly shutterbugs yet, one of the principles that kept coming up went something like this:

Don’t miss life in the process of taking the perfect picture – just take a few snapshots and move on!

This month, we’re going to give you just that – a few snapshots of what God did.  We hope you’ll enjoy reading about them as much as we did participating in them!

  • June 12th – met with a ministry leader and friend about supporting a new campus in our area.  One of our council members serves as adjunct faculty there, and, there’s a strong faculty adviser already in place, so we’re excited to see how we can help.
  • June 17th – first meeting with a new couple we’re mentoring.  Great time getting to know them and their stories.
  • June 18th – nice time of discipleship with one of our campus leaders.  In response to the question, ‘What was one key thing God has been teaching you this year?’, he mentioned ‘God has taught me to be quieter and listen more to what others have to say’.  Priceless.
  • later that day – reconnected with a physician I hadn’t seen in some time.  I appreciated his candor in asking for prayer to overcome cynicism and living for comfort.  His request itself is a sign of God’s work.
  • June 21st – spoke with a physician who wants to get involved with PCOM, one of our medical campuses.  Her willingness to jump in and see what God will do is exactly what the students need!
  • June 22nd – hosted a gathering for students, residents and practicing professionals at our home.  God gave a true spirit of openness and vulnerability, with a theme of ‘trusting God when life is hard’ emerging among our professionals.  Great for those who are younger to listen in and learn.
  • June 25th – met with a student leader at one of our dental campuses.  Met with two of his co-leaders on different days because their schedules are so intense we couldn’t coordinate!  We’re working together to see how we can create a community in this environment.
  • later that day – met with a local pastor who’s completed medical school before receiving a call to ministry.  Curious to see how God will let us work together!
  • July 2nd – terrific time of discipleship with a student.  God used his questions about a relationship and his future calling to lead us into even deeper issues that, more fully explored, will lead to great blessing in his life.
  • July 4-6th – officiated the wedding of two of our student leaders!  We had done their pre-engagement/marital counseling, so it was a privilege to be there for their special day.  We also had the chance to visit two couples from the area who are good friends and supporters of our ministry.

So, there you have it… or, some of it, anyway!  A lot more happened, but hopefully this gives you a feel for this past month.  Thank you, thank you for allowing us to do what we do!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for a balanced month where we enjoyed time with students, but, as many are away or busy, also with other people who are both friends and essential to the ministry.
  • praise for the privilege to share in the Tim’s & Tiff’s wedding.  It was such a great joy to see them officially starting their new life together!
  • praise that God has provided us with a cost-effective, solid car I can use for ministry. Thanks to the many, many people who prayed, networked and contributed to this effort!
  • praise for our first-ever picnic for residents and fellows (7/12) and the two local physicians who graciously hosted.  Those who came want to meet on a semi-regular basis and stay connected with each other.
  • pray for our support development efforts to yield fruit.
  • pray for our next summer gathering (7/20) and citywide campus leadership training (8/23).
  • pray that our family’s time away at ‘Joni & Friends Camp’ (7/28-8/1) is both restful and a time to grow in what it means to have Matthew as part of our family.
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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.