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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Overcoming Obstacles To Medical Missions: What About My Debt?

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Everybody knows the value of medical missions.  Using your medical skills to bring  healing and spiritual transformation in under-served areas.  Knowing that what you bring to the table is desperately needed.  Teaching nationals so that they can carry on, and expand, your work.  The ‘perks’ of having more time with your family, a less frenetic lifestyle, and freedom from malpractice concerns.

But, serving abroad brings many challenges that can easily stop you from going.  In my next two posts, I want to look at two obstacles – one on the front end, one on the back end – and how they can be overcome with God’s help.

In this post, I want to look at the obstacle of debt.  Today’s medical students can easily graduate with up to $300,000 in debt.  By the time you finish residency, the interest can leave you with twice that amount.  Faced with that, it’s easy to conclude there’s no way to go overseas, or, serve somewhere where you’d make significantly less than the norm.

Enter MedSend.

MedSend is a ministry that will pay back your medical student loans over ten years so that you can get to the field right after residency.  Yes, you read that correctly: MedSend will pay back your student loans for you so that you can fulfill your dream of doing medical missions.

In a phone conversation earlier this week, I spoke with a development officer from MedSend about how it works.

The first step, often overlooked, is to make sure you’re called.  You need to ask God to burden you with a passion for a people and/or place.  You need to go on short-term trips to explore your calling.  You need to spend lots of time in prayer.  And you need others to affirm that this is, in fact, God’s leading.

After that, the next step is to officially partner with an approved (by MedSend, but there are many) missions organization like Samaritan’s Purse.  Once you’re onboard, with them you still need to raise your support to pay for the expenses you’ll incur in your new location.

Once those things are in place, MedSend becomes involved and begins paying back your loans so that you can go and serve.

Right now, MedSend is sponsoring approximately 150 healthcare professionals around the world, including those in domestic under-served areas.  They represent about 40 different specialties and fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.  So, there’s a place for everyone.

If you’re not sure about the idea of medical missions, are you open to exploring it and asking God what He wants, whatever the cost may be?

The good news is that, if God is calling you, your debt doesn’t need to get in the way.