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!

 

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From The Field

Part of our team debriefing right after the outreach.

With our first SMI Philly outreach under our belt, I wanted to send you a report “from the field” that I hope will encourage you and guide your prayers over the next three weeks as the project continues —

Yesterday afternoon, we held our first Summer Medical Institute (SMI) Philly outreach for the year.  Based in Philadelphia’s second-poorest community, we offer free health screenings and discuss spiritual matters with anyone and everyone who wants to.

Although we held four hours of training the day before, including what to say when we knock on doors and how to address spiritual concerns, we came away with a profound sense that there’s really no script for this kind of thing.  In all honesty, that can be kind of scary, and all of us had some level of anxiety even though most of us had done it before.

After all, following Jesus can land you in some pretty interesting situations.  Like a community hair salon, where we wound up spending our entire afternoon.

At first, I’ve got to admit, it was a little awkward.

Although the owner had invited us, when we opened the door we discovered other members of our team were already there due to a change of plans.  No one on our specific team had ever done the screenings we were about to offer.  Demographically, none of us looked like we belonged there, something that was not lost on the salon’s patrons.  And, as a guy, I felt a little out of place.

But, there we were, and we weren’t about to miss the opportunities God had put before us.  So, with hair dryers blazing all around us, and our interpreter as our primary ‘lifeline’ between us and the Spanish-speaking customers, we started screening anyone who was interested.

Our last interaction turned out to be our best one.

“Maria” (not her real name) is a woman in her early forties, and she was clearly worried about her health.  Although she had been seen by a local clinic, she was not getting adequate services for her high blood pressure and GI issues.  Without getting into all the details, she had been eating just once a day to avoid embarrassment at work.  And, as the single parent of a two-year-old, she was (rightly) scared about what would happen to him if her health didn’t improve.

Although we weren’t able to do much for her medically on the spot, we did connect her with Esperanza, the local, Christ-centered clinic that will provide excellent care for her.  And, although she wasn’t ready to discuss spiritual concerns deeply in a public setting, she responded to our offer of pastoral follow-up, even requesting a worship service in her home.  Only God knows how Maria’s story will end, but our team left encouraged, feeling privileged to be part of God’s work and believing she will receive the medical and spiritual follow-up she needs.

So, although the day didn’t unfold anything like we expected it to, God’s script was better than ours.  And that’s exactly what we needed to see – practically – on our first outreach.  Strengthened by that experience, we’re resolved to trust Christ for every interaction we have over the next three weeks:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If there’s any ‘script’, it’s Him!

Please continue to pray for us, the people we’ll be meeting, and our partners who will be following up in the days ahead.  Thanks, as always, for your heartfelt prayers!

With Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

SMI Outreaches Starting NOW!

Students in small groups during yesterday's evangelism training

In just a few hours, we will hold our first Summer Medical Institute (SMI) Philly outreach of the year!  We will be offering free health screenings as a service to the Hunting Park (in North Philly) community, and using that as a bridge to share about Christ to anyone who will listen.

Here are some quick prayer requests for our outreaches and other aspects of the project:

  • Pray that the evangelism training I led yesterday would be helpful as we do the outreaches.
  • Please pray that our team of 20 students and other healthcare providers would trust in God, not ourselves, for every moment of the outreach.  Pray that we would not be fearful of rejection and not knowing what to say in difficult interactions.
  • Pray that we would be mindful of the spiritual battle all around us, and ask God for help ‘in the moment.’
  • Pray for the people we will meet on our outreaches.  Many of them are un/under-insured, in significant poverty, and facing many other challenges most of us have not experienced.  At the same time, this is a blessing because often a sense of physical need translates into a sense of spiritual need, and we have much to learn from them.  We long for them to know Jesus deeply.
  • Of the 20 students on project, only 4 this year are men, so pray that I (Bryan) would invest in Alan, Dan, Luke, and Sam deeply.  At the same time, I am so thankful for Sharon, who is spending a good deal of time on project and ministering to the women, so please pray for her as well.
  • Please pray for the many graduate healthcare “faculty” who will be joining us at various points throughout the project.  They will model for the students how to care for “the whole person”, but more importantly just “living life” with the students and investing in them informally.  Pray for us, also, as we do some teaching throughout the project, the next session being Thursday morning.
  • I’d like to express real thankfulness for Medical Campus Outreach (MCO), another medical ministry in the city, and Esperanza Health Center, a local Christian clinic, who are sponsoring SMI and have invested so much of their time and resources in this project.  So many people have come together to make this project a reality, and we are truly grateful to be joining them in this Kingdom work.  Please pray that God blesses them in every way.
  • Finally, I will be at SMI Texas next week (Monday 18th – Friday 22nd), serving in a similar capacity, before returning for the third and final week of SMI Philly. Please pray for my time at SMI Texas, where roughly half of the students are from the Philadelphia area.

As always, we are thankful for you, our partners in this work.  We have a deep sense that you are there with us through your prayers and gifts that make it all possible.  We can’t wait to share more with you as the project unfolds.

Medical Assistant Openings At Esperanza

Just received word of openings for Bi-lingual Medical Assistants at Esperanza.  More information below:

Subject: Seeking Bilingual Medical Assistants

Job Summary: Esperanza Health Center seeks full-time Bilingual Medical Assistants to work with clinicians in a primary health care setting as part of the Esperanza clinical care team.

Education, Skills and Experience:

Individual must be conversational in Spanish and English.
Experience with basic skills (such as taking blood pressure, administering shots, and taking medical history) is preferred.
Ideal candidate will have a strong desire to serve Christ in a ministry setting.
Candidate must have a Medical Assistant Diploma.
Hourly position includes vacation and sick time, holidays, medical benefits and retirement plan.

To apply: Please send resume/CV and cover letter to resumes@esperanzahealth.com.

Contact:
Tony Gonzalez, Human Resources Manager
Ph: (215) 808-8606