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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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.