Three ‘Nights’ And Intermed Just Around The Corner!

Doubt Night

“So, when can we do it again?!”

That’s the response we received after holding our first Doubt Night at PCOM, one of our area’s medical campuses.

You may be wondering, though, what Doubt Night is all about.  (First, credit to liberti Church for giving me the idea some years ago).  In short, Doubt Night is a time where seekers and others with questions about the Christian faith can come and dialogue honestly with Christians about their concerns.  To facilitate this, I took part in a panel that also featured Dr. Keith Herzog and two PCOM students.  Throughout a 1.5 hour discussion, we heard questions dealing with:

  • heaven – is it real?  Is it right to be moral because we want to go there, or, should we act rightly because it’s inherently appropriate?
  • the apparent contrast between God in the Old and New Testaments – why does ‘the God of the NT’ seem more gracious and loving?
  • the trustworthiness of the bible – Christians put so much faith in the Bible, but what makes it more special or reliable than any other book?

Of the 15 who came, I’d say it was about a 50/50 ratio of seekers:Christians, which is what we were hoping for.  We look forward to continuing the conversation on campus, and, in future Doubt Nights!

Men’s & Women’s Nights

Later that week, we also hosted Women’s and Men’s Nights at our home on consecutive evenings.  Sharon led nineteen women in tackling the sensitive area of sexuality and how to live for Christ in a confusing, sexually-charged culture.  The best part about the night was that it provided a safe place to deal with the questions everyone has, but is afraid to ask.  We need to speak to topics like this!

For our men’s night, nine men joined me for an exploration of the topic of why men are so passive, and, what we can do about it.  We took a look at our culture’s portrayal of men, then surveyed key bible passages that help us ‘diagnose and treat’ not only the symptoms, but the underlying causes as well.

Both nights were greatly aided by Sharon’s baking, especially the flourless mocha cake and Ghirardelli brownies!

Prayer Needed for Intermed This Weekend

This Friday night and Saturday morning, MCO and CMDA are hosting Intermed, our annual gathering of local healthcare students and professionals for worship, fellowship and teaching.  But this is not our usual Intermed.  God has allowed us to invite Dr. David Levy, neurosurgeon and author of Gray Matter, to be our speaker.  Based in San Diego, Dr. Levy is going to speak to us at Intermed, but also at other medical campuses throughout his week in our area (March 8-15).

On Friday evening, he’ll show us what it means to talk about Christ with the people around us, as well as challenge us on what it looks like to let go of anger we harbor toward God and others.  More than just raw information, though, Dr. Levy has dealt with these topics very personally in his own life and medical practice.  As we minister to students and professionals, we’re excited about offering them one portrait of who we hope they’ll become.

As you can imagine, we very much need your prayers for Dr. Levy’s visit:

  • for protection from the evil one.  Already we’ve seen evidence of spiritual resistance, and need God to protect us.
  • for the Spirit’s power as Dr. Levy speaks.  His messages will be powerful, but lasting change only happens through Christ’s work in our hearts.
  • that weary people would come away not only changed, but refreshed!
  • for God to put together “divine appointments” for Dr. Levy in between speaking engagements.  He very much wants to minister to those who need what God wants to do through him.  Pray also for me and others as we interact with students at these events; I expect that God will be giving us similar opportunities in response to his work through Dr. Levy.  We want to be His instruments of healing and change here in the city!
  • pray for all the last-minute details that need to come together.  This leads me to praise God for our entire planning team (a collaboration of students, MCO & CMDA) for all the amazing hard work they’ve done to make this week a reality!

Thank you, dear friends, for standing so faithfully with us!

Bryan & Sharon

 

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Retreat

It’s no secret that the modern medical environment wants nothing to do with Christianity.

To take just one example, consider the following story –

As a third year medical student on the Family Medicine clerkship [rotation], I participated in a seminar session about cultural competency, diversity, and tolerance. This session was led by one of our Assistant Deans, who also happened to serve on the admissions committee.

During this lecture on “tolerance” the Dean shared with us that she had interviewed a pro-life applicant for medical school the previous day. During her questioning, this student indicated that he/she wouldn’t feel comfortable performing or providing referrals for abortions. The Assistant Dean then proclaimed with pride that she “personally made sure that someone like THAT won’t get into MY medical school.”

Stories like this one are not the norm in terms of degree, but are by no means rare.  Our students know in no uncertain terms that their school administrations would prefer they keep their faith to themselves.  That’s why we focused on “Challenges in Communicating Faith” during our Intermed half-day retreat this past Saturday.  Approximately fifty healthcare students, residents and graduate physicians from around the city came together to hear internationally-known speaker Dr. Bob Snyder help us identify, and practically overcome, common obstacles in sharing our faith in medical settings.   Everyone came away encouraged with the hope and practical tools needed to represent the Great Physician boldly and sensitively in a hostile environment.

In the coming days, I will follow-up with our student leadership teams and help them implement the things Dr. Snyder shared.  We’ll talk about the small steps of obedience the Lord is asking them to take next.  I also initiated a follow-up discussion for the retreat’s leaders so that we can rejoice over what God did, and think about avenues for future improvement.  And, in January, I’ll be meeting with Dr. Snyder personally to continue discussing ways our students can represent Christ wherever they are.  Step-by-step, we are making a difference as we join God’s patient, persistent transformation of healthcare in Philadelphia and beyond!

Through your partnership on many levels, you too are a part of this kingdom work.  May the God who sees all we do reward you for your efforts behind-the-scenes.

In The Healer’s Name,

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in offering these items to the Father in prayer and praise:

  • Praise for a tremendous retreat!   Please beg God to help me help the students identify those few things He wants them to implement next.
  • Please pray for me this next month, as the students will be busy with exams and winter break.  This should be a great time to step back, praying and reflecting on what God has done, and where we need to go next.
  • Praise for some more new support over the past month, and pray for God’s generous provision for this year’s budget ($8,000 shortfall), and new donors moving forward.
  • Pray for wisdom as we think about possibly expanding our team’s ministry to a new campus next academic year.  Two other medical campuses would like outside ministry help!  It looks likely that another medical couple will be moving to the area, and they have expressed an interest in helping out on campus.  Please pray that the Father would allow our ministry to expand, yet in a way that does not diminish the quality of what we are currently doing.
  • Finally, please ask God to bless the bible study and dinner we’ll hold at our home this Saturday evening (6-8pm) for healthcare students around the city.