Archive for the ‘campus leaders’ Category

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Looking Back, Moving Forward

June 18, 2013
Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Jon, one of our students turned resident, joins us virtually from CA!

Summer is here!  Our first-year students have finished with their exams, second-year students are either studying for ‘boards’ (comprehensive exams necessary to continue with third-year) or starting rotations, and, things are relatively quiet here.  Sort of like the shore at the end of the season.

But not quite.  There’s still plenty to do, like:

  • Give thanks for another great year of student ministry!  This year, in addition to supporting our 5 major campuses, we also started connecting with, and supporting, several new ones: Arcadia (formerly Beaver), Penn Dental, Temple Dental, and, Temple Podiatry.  We enjoyed discipling/mentoring many individual students, developing leaders and helping them reach their campuses, hosting students in our home for bible study brunches, and, provide relational counseling for couples.
  • Give thanks that our ministry ‘council’ (healthcare providers who work alongside me in ministry, also providing encouragement and accountability) doubled from 3 to 6.  This has been such an incredible encouragement and greatly increased what we’re able to do.
  • Hire a part-time ministry assistant.  God’s continued blessing has led to greater administrative and relational ministry needs, especially with our female students.  We hope to hire an assistant by August when our academic year begins.
  • Raise support.  Along with other increased costs, hiring a ministry assistant will require us to raise additional funds.
  • Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Hanging out at one of our brunches.

    Prepare for fall Intermed and our first-ever student overnight retreat.  We’re asking God to use these events to refresh our current students, and, to enfold new students into our fellowships quickly.

  • Continue meeting with students.  While many students are away or busy with rotations, some have limited availability and we plan on taking advantage of that!  We’re also hosting 5 gatherings for the students over the summer as we study the Book of Malachi and the theme of spiritual refreshment.  This past Sunday, we concluded our study with ‘designer s’mores’ and great discussion on the patio late into the night!
  • Help our current leaders get ready for the new year.  Although we’ve already discussed vision and strategy for the first few weeks back, during the summer I will continue to touch base with our leaders so that we’re ready for this narrow, yet critical, window of opportunity.

As you can see, there’s plenty to do… and pray for.  Will you please join us in bringing these concerns before the Father over this next month?

Thank you for being a largely unseen, but so, so critical, part of our ministry.  We look forward to seeing you in July with another update!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

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Investing Like Jesus Did

March 6, 2013

One of the most rewarding experiences in ministry is watching those we’re investing in invest in others.  Like Jesus, our deepest passion is that God would take our efforts and multiply them through our students.

More and more, God has been answering this prayer.  We’d like to give you an example of what that looks like through Tim, one of the local student leaders.

Over the past year and a half, Tim and I (Bryan) have been talking about the importance of pouring into others.  Tim has always been open to this, but over the past several months he’s truly taken consistent steps that are making a difference.  Here are a few excerpts from emails he’s sent me as I’ve touched base with him about ‘Johnson’, one of his classmates:

One of the things we talked about was how do you really know God as our Father. One thing he felt was that he knew the right things to believe, but hasn’t ever really felt it in his heart with conviction, hasn’t really felt like a real relationship with God… one thing that I shared with him was the importance of spending time with God, reading in his word, asking him to help us know him better, and then just laying down our expectations of whatever “experience” [we might have] and see how He shows up with us. So for some practical steps, Johnson decided to read 3 chapters each night going through Luke, and I’ve been helping to keep him accountable with that. And so we’re just praying for God to birth something new in his heart and that it grows into a real life-giving relationship.

In thinking through the way Tim has been relating to Johnson, I was impressed.  He did all the ‘right’ things: took initiative in the relationship, asked good questions in drawing him out, and provided encouragement balanced with practical steps for growth.  At their next meeting, Tim continued this pattern, the result being that Johnson decided to let his pastor in on how things ‘are really going’ so that his pastor can continue shepherding him.

If he weren’t going to be a physician, Tim would make a great pastor.  Then again, it’s precisely as a physician that Tim will have many opportunities to engage people just like pastors do – right where life and suffering meet.  This is what the Great Physician did and it’s exciting to see our students following His example.

Sharon and I would like to thank you for enabling us to invest in students like Tim so that they, in turn, will invest in others.

Serving the Great Physician,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise God for Tim – and others like him – who are catching the vision for investing in their peers.  Please pray that many more do as well.
  • Praise God for those who have served as campus leaders since last spring.  Over the next month, our campuses will select new leaders to replace them, so please pray that those God is calling to serve will step up.  And, please pray that God grants me wisdom in helping the transitions go smoothly.
  • As medical schools are currently in the process of making admissions decisions, now is the time to pray that God gives special favor to those who already know, and, those who are seeking, Him.
  • Finally, please pray that God gives us grace as we start to plan for two new events, a fall retreat and relationships seminar for the students.  We’re excited and will share more as events unfold!
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Another Great Start

September 12, 2012

It’s hard to read the words, but these are index cards the Jefferson leaders used to map out their ministry vision for the year.

 

It’s hard to believe, but already another year is well underway!  This year, I’m spending time at 7 different campuses, so this has been an especially intense, but wonderful, season of ministry.  Here’s a quick roundup of what’s going on.

 

How Are We Going To Strengthen This Ministry & Reach This Campus This Year?!

Since we experience 100% leadership turnover on each of our campuses every year, helping our leaders develop and carry out a vision for their campus is a critical, and significant, part of my ministry.  Although many issues – like outreach – occur at all of our campuses, the key issues tend to take on a specific flavor at each one.  At Temple, we’re beginning to partner with local healthcare providers and pastors in an effort to holistically reach the surrounding community.  At Penn Dental, the students are re-launching the chapter after a few years of relative inactivity, so we’re wading through what that means.  Drexel is trying to reach their campus community more actively, hosting a ‘Doubt Night’ and possibly participating in a forum on abortion.  And Penn (Med) is asking what it means to include other believing healthcare (i.e., nursing) students in their ministry, but with an eye to helping them launch their own, independent ministries in time.  I really enjoy coming alongside the students and helping them meet the particular challenges, and seize the specific opportunities, that God lays before them!

Building Relationships

For this first month or two, it’s so important to build relationships with new, and returning, students.  As the cliché goes, “people have to know you care before they care what you know!”  The primary way we care for the students is simply by “showing up” on campus, or, inviting students into our home.  Already, we’ve hosted two Saturday morning brunches, with 20-25 in attendance each time.  I’ve been to each of our campuses, some a few times, for their activities fairs, large group meetings, leadership meetings, individual discipleship times, and, just to “hang out”.  Sharon and our kids have also joined me as they’re able so that students can start connecting with them, too.   As we build these relationships, trust grows and ministry moves forward.

Intermed

As you may remember, each year (sometimes twice) the students gather for a citywide time of fellowship, teaching and worship through song.  This fall, it’s been my privilege to put together, and guide, a phenomenal team of students as we get ready for this effort.  While at first summer breaks and busy schedules made coordinating calendars challenging, God has given us real momentum and things are moving forward nicely.  God led us to a theme of experiencing, and giving away, His love.  This is our passion and prayer.  But more than the event itself, the process leading up to the event is an amazing ministry opportunity to invest in our very best leaders and help them learn how to think about, and do, ministry so that they too will be ready to guide ministries on their own someday.  We want to raise up leaders who will raise up others leaders, the chain continuing until Christ returns.  This is how the Kingdom moves forward!

So, there’s a quick snapshot of what God is up to.  There’s so much more to share, but we’ll say more in future updates.  Thank you, as always, for your love, prayers and gifts that make this ministry possible.

With deep gratitude,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for so many new students; pray that they keep coming out, and, that God shields them from getting consumed by their studies.
  • praise for faithful leaders at each of our campuses; pray that God helps us discern where we need to provide guidance at each campus, and, how.
  • pray for new discipleship relationships for Sharon and I to form with the incoming (first-year) women and men (respectively).
  • pray for Penn Dental in particular as they re-launch their ministry this year.  Each class (there are four) has different schedules, making coordinated efforts challenging.
  • pray for our Intermed team as we move toward our fall gathering (Nov. 2-3).  We need God’s Spirit to guide us!  Pray also that God will help me mentor our students throughout the process.  Our heart is that their vision for the Kingdom expand, and, that they will become equipped to teach others what they are receiving.  And, that God will be glorified in it all.
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Ministry Seen & Unseen

April 26, 2012

This past month was another excellent month of ministry.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Engaging those on the journey

Not everyone I (Bryan) interact with on campus is a Christian.  Increasingly, God is giving me opportunities to talk to students still trying to figure Jesus out.  Recently, I’ve been meeting with one student who shared that, while he thinks that Christianity’s central message is true and sees much good in it, his faith is still “like a jigsaw puzzle with a few missing pieces.”  I told him that I will pray for God to bring clarity and encouraged him to join me.  Please pray with us!

Leadership transitions

With this year’s leaders starting to study for boards, we have now seen leadership transitions at all our area campuses.  I’ve been meeting with many of them to help them develop, and implement, a strategy specific to their campus and am always available as questions come up.  I also check in with our leaders to help them stay focused on the vision and maintain balance among their key priorities.

Ministering to couples, together

One of the greatest joys Sharon and I have in ministry is working together.  In addition to one couple we’ve already been meeting with for pre-engagement counseling, Sharon and I will be meeting with another medical student and her fiancé for pre-marital counseling.  Please pray that God gives us wisdom as we try to wisely “speak into” these relationships with God’s truth and grace.

Under the hood

If our ministry were a car, its body would be our ministry on campus.  It’s the essence of what we do and the part everyone sees.  And yet, like a car, its performance ultimately depends upon what lies “under the hood” – the engine, the transmission and other crucial, yet largely unseen, parts.  In our ministry, the engine and transmission are our council, campus laborers and supporters.  I’d like to lift up the hood for a moment and give you a quick peek inside.

Over the past few months, our ministry council, responsible for providing accountability and reaching our campuses with me, has lost two of its six members due to time constraints.  While these two members will continue serving on campus, they simply don’t have enough time to play a larger role in the ministry.  Please ask God to raise up additional members, and especially a chairperson.

Campus advisers are volunteer healthcare providers who are willing to share their lives with students as they journey through their training.  They provide encouragement, mentoring and a living example of what it looks like to walk with God in medicine.  Just this past week, I enjoyed an extended meeting with Jefferson’s campus adviser where we caught up on what we’re doing there, the leadership transition and how we can work together to see God’s work thrive there.  Quiet moments like these are vital to the campuses’ ongoing health.

Finally, our supporters are so crucial in providing the prayer and financial infrastructure that makes it all possible.  We received a major encouragement this past week when a significant donor committed to a sizable monthly gift, freeing me up to focus on the core work of our ministry.

Regardless of the particular role God has called you to play, if you’re receiving this update you are part of our team, a vital, if hidden, piece of what lies “under the hood”.  We want you to know that we see, and appreciate, all that you do on our behalf.

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

PS Beyond the requests in the update above, please pray for:

  • Summer gatherings, and times of discipleship, we’ll be having with those students who are staying around.
  • Details to come together for an overnight, fall retreat.  A great way to help new students get plugged into their campus groups up front!
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God At Work!

September 9, 2011

Some of the students from our last home bible study

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Many of you will recognize that line from a familiar Christmas song (yes, it’s a little pollyanna), but I feel that way every August and September when our students come back to campus.  This is the time when we meet the first-year students we’ve been praying for, and, renew friendships with those who are returning.  This is the season for intense planning and strategizing, a time I meet with campus leaders and figure out what initiatives we need to take.  And this is the time where I’m looking for up-and-coming leaders, people who will change the face of Kingdom medicine for the next generation.

Now do you see why I love it?!  Let me give you a few quick snapshots of this “most wonderful time” as we’ve experienced it over the past month.

Developing Leaders

I love working with our campus leaders.  It’s a huge challenge because, every single year, the turnover is 100%.  Our leaders have only been on campus for one year when they ‘take over’, and, half of that year has been spent adjusting to the rigors of med school life.  Furthermore, the student leaders are juggling leadership with an academic load that some estimate is five times as intense as college.

As you know, though, huge challenges bring huge opportunities.  Since I’m here for the long haul and involved with various campuses, I bring a unique perspective to the table.  I sit down with the leaders and/or graduate faculty volunteers and help them figure out how we’re going to reach their particular campus with the particular people and hurdles God has placed before them.

At Jefferson, for example, I had the privilege of being invited by (faculty advisers) Dr. Loren Chen and his wife Anne to take part in a mini leaders’ retreat they hosted at their home.  Sharon and I were able to offer suggestions on developing an agenda for the weekend, and I joined them for lunch and part of their planning session.  It was wonderful to watch Loren and Anne do such a phenomenal job, and, to start developing relationships with the leaders.

In It Together

Our involvement with the Jefferson retreat illustrates a subtle, but real, change in our ministry God has been directing for some time now.  Although we still do a lot of ‘hands-on’ work with students, more and more we feel called to help others shine where they are.  Without a doubt, there is so much potential medical ministry in Philadelphia that it will take an army to accomplish!

Last year, for instance, I met Jasen, then a first-year student at “SOM”, a medical school just across the river in South Jersey.  I asked him to get together in an effort to both understand his fellowship’s needs and how we could help.  It became clear that there was a need for graduate advisers, but also that I could not serve that role consistently due to my other ministry responsibilities.

That’s where Dr. Jerry Hric has stepped up.  Jerry is one of our newer council members, and ‘just happens’ to live 10 minutes from SOM’s campus.  He and his wife also have a huge heart for students, and they have started hosting students – Christians and others – at their home regularly.   At a planning meeting last evening, 12 students – now leaders – showed up at Jerry’s home and decided to meet weekly on campus for sharing and fellowship, as well as getting together weekly for bible study in Philippians.  They aim to involve all 60 students signed up for the fellowship and spend nearly half their energy on outreach.  Just last year, SOM’s fellowship was really struggling.  Isn’t God wonderful?!

Our heart is to walk alongside people like Loren, Anne and Jerry to bless and encourage them in the ministries God is giving them.  In this way, the Kingdom spreads in ways that we could never dream of accomplishing on our own.

Home Bible Study 2.0

As I mentioned above, Sharon and I are still involved with students directly.  We’re especially excited about our home bible studies, which started a week ago.  They’ve been well-attended in the past, but during the summer we decided it was time to more intentionally equip those who come to reach those around them.  To do that, we’ve asked them for a greater commitment – to come consistently, be vulnerable with each other, meet every 3 weeks (instead of 4), and, do some ‘homework’ in-between meetings.

With that in mind – as well as a 9am start time – we expected a smaller turnout.  What happened, though, was just the opposite!  Twenty-four students from all over the city attended, not to mention several who wanted to come but couldn’t!  Needless to say, we’re looking forward to our next meeting later this month!

We hope that gives you a nice snapshot of what God has been doing.  THANK YOU for playing such an important role through your prayers and giving.  We could never, ever do it without you!

For the Kingdom,

Bryan & Sharon

Please praise & pray with us:

  • Praise for a huge turnout for our first home bible study breakfast!  Please pray that God draws many back next time (Sept. 17th, 9am), and that those who come develop an all-out passion for reaching the people around them for Christ.
  • Praise also for the opportunity to meet the new students as I visit our various campuses, and, to invest in many of our leaders.  Please pray for wisdom to develop further relationships with the leaders and to speak into their situations in a way that furthers their ministry.  Pray along the same lines for our relationships with the graduate advisers.
  • Please pray, too, for the many meetings I’m having with key men from around the city.  Please ask God to help me help them become difference-makers for the Kingdom.
  • Pray for several students who are “seekers” at one of our campuses, especially that believing students in their lives would continue to represent Christ faithfully to them.
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Campus Roundup

September 13, 2010

Since I last wrote, something very exciting has happened: all the students, on all our campuses, have returned!  In this update, we want to share with you all that God is doing through us in the students’ lives.  Here we go!

On Campus

At Drexel and PCOM (my two primary campuses), both fellowships have strong leadership teams, and I’ve been honored to provide input and consultation for them as they make plans for ministry this year.  Both groups have also seen strong early turnouts, with about 30 students coming out so far.  I’m also spending significant time meeting with men for mentoring and discipleship.

One of these meetings, with “John”, was especially good.  At the end of last semester, John shared how he had to repeat second-year because of his grades, and that he was discouraged because he wasn’t sure what would make things go differently next year.  As we sat down for lunch recently, though, we rejoiced at God’s provision for him.  God had helped John form better study habits and put His finger on pride that was isolating him from others who could help and pray for him.  I was thankful to learn that God had used me as a part of the process as well, and even more thankful to hear that John is looking for ways to serve our fellowship when it would be easier for him to say he needs to focus only on his classes.

By mid-October, I also plan to visit our other area medical campuses, providing encouragement and input as God leads.

Our ministry council, which serves alongside me on campus, has also been active.  Dr. Charlene Brock is meeting with women at Drexel, Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick is planning a panel discussion at Penn that will engage Christians and unbelievers, and Dr. Rich Shoemaker is speaking at Temple, with plans to mentor men and host the group for a retreat at his family’s mountain cabin.  I am so thankful for these fellow servants who provide living examples for the students of what it means to serve Christ in healthcare.

Bible Study Dinners

So far this fall, we’ve hosted two bible study dinners at our home, with about 15-20 students attending each time.  This Saturday, we studied Psalm 131 in the context of what it means to stay connected to God now that the academic year is heating up.  As usual, we enjoyed connecting with students from around the city and talking late into the night.

Praying for Expansion

Although we remain focused on our city’s medical campuses, it’s my prayer that God will eventually enable us to begin supporting the area’s other healthcare campuses.  Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with students from Penn Dental, Temple Dental, Temple Pharmacy and various programs at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia (USP).  While the council and I cannot personally take on additional campuses, we hope to find other healthcare professionals who can come alongside us in reaching the students.

Training Opportunity!

Over the last few months, I’ve been blessed to develop a closer relationship with Dr. Bob Snyder, a former emergency room physician who now serves as President of International Health Services (IHS).  IHS trains international healthcare workers to train others in healthcare to share their faith in medical settings.  For some time now, our local students have been seeking more formal training in just this area: like Jesus, they want to treat the “whole person”, not merely their physical ailments.  Recently, Dr. Snyder has invited me to come along with him on one of his international training conferences (Kiev, Ukraine, Sept. 24-26) so that I can train our students in Philadelphia.  Our hope is that many here will not only want to receive the training, but train others in the city as well!

As you can see, God is powerfully at work.  Thanks so much for your prayers and gifts that God is graciously using to make this ministry effective!

Bryan & Sharon

Please keep these prayers and praises before God’s Throne this coming month:

  • Praise God for great beginnings at our area campuses!  Please pray that: students continue to come out, the student leaders, council and I pour our lives into the first-year students, God gives the council and I wisdom as we help the leaders lead, that our times with the students would be used richly by the Lord, and that God would be aggressively pursuing those who don’t yet know Him.
  • Praise God for giving us connections with students from schools who would like more ministry support.  Please pray that God raises up new laborers so that we can effectively support them!
  • Praise God also for the upcoming ministry training opportunity in Kiev (Sept. 24-26).  Please pray for safe travel, but even more so that I will come back excited and fully-equipped to train area students and healthcare professionals to train others in this critical area of sharing their faith at work.
  • Finally, please pray for our support. We are currently at 85% of our total need, but the economy continues to affect us, both in terms of donors’ ability to follow-through on their pledges, and in our ability to recruit new support.  Please pray us across the finish line – there’s so much more we can do once we reach our total need!  See the “giving” link at right if you’d like to start giving, or, would like to catch up on past pledges.
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Discipling the Disciplers

May 14, 2010

Look carefully then how you walk… making the best use of the time.  – Ephesians 5:15

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

Although these are two of my favorite Scriptures, ministering to medical students and professionals has encouraged me to think more deeply about their relationship.

Why?  I’ve always believed – and Scripture clearly shows – that making the greatest Kingdom investment involves not only “doing ministry” ourselves, but also pouring into others so that they, in turn, can minister to others (2 Tim. 2:2).  It’s the difference between addition and multiplication.

If you’ve been following our updates, though, you know how extremely busy medical students are.  During my years of undergraduate ministry, I would often have three years to invest in our campus leaders.  With medical student leaders, my ministry council and I only have ten-eleven months. (At the end of their year in leadership they study for a comprehensive exam (“boards”) and head out on rotations). So, the need to train up leaders who will train up others is urgent, but we only have a brief time to do it.

As a result, discipling the disciplers is always at the very top of my priority list.  In the words of Ephesians 5:15, training leaders is making “the best use of [my] time”.  If we give ourselves deeply to our campus leaders, and this investment mentality becomes part of their DNA, we are well on our way to an enormously successful year of ministry.

With that in mind, last week we held our Philadelphia Area CMDA team our annual leadership training event for the 2010-11 campus leaders.  Although not everyone could make it, 13 leaders from 4 of our 5 campuses came.  Two leaders, taking public transportation, inadvertently missed their stop yet still walked half an hour to attend.   These are the kind of committed students we’re looking for!

Although we had only 4 hours, we made the most of them.  We focused on giving them a biblical vision for godly leadership and character, emphasizing the brief but critical window of investment they have as leaders.  We walked through the elements of a healthy campus ministry, how to use the summer well in preparation for the fall, and gave them an opportunity to share ideas with one another.  In addition, Dr. Rich Shoemaker – one of our CMDA council members investing at Temple Med – was present to share what he learned during his time as a student leader, and his insights were invaluable.  We walked away encouraged, and equipped, for the year of ministry to come.

Thanks to each one of you for helping us seize this brief window of opportunity.  Your prayers and contributions really are the necessary foundation for all that we do!

By grace,

Bryan & Sharon Stoudt

Please also join us in:

  • Praising God for a strong conclusion to the year at our primary campuses, Drexel and PCOM.   We’ve had excellent times of evaluation and planning at both campuses.
  • Praising God also for a terrific leadership training time.  Please pray that God would take our efforts and multiply them in the lives of the leaders throughout the summer and coming year on campus.
  • Praying that the Lord would bless my interactions with students during these last few weeks of the year, and with those few who will be around this summer.
  • Praying for wisdom for me as I help plan the “spiritual” piece of the SMI Philadelphia project (June 12-26).  I’m responsible for inviting various medical faculty to speak to the students on relevant topics, and, for doing some of the teaching myself.
  • Praying that God continues to bless our support-raising efforts over the summer.  At this point, we need to raise $1,700 in additional monthly support.  If you’d like give, you can find more information by clicking here.