Archive for the ‘campus’ 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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Going First, Getting Uncomfortable

May 9, 2013

People in the community just assume you’re here for you.  There are a lot of preconceived notions, but if you’re willing to get uncomfortable, they can be worked through.

2013-04-08_12-37-39_400[1]In November, I invited Pastor Larry Smith and Hakim Pitts, members of a church near Temple Med, to come to Temple’s campus fellowship and share about what it’s like to live in the surrounding, underserved community.

What they shared was, to say the least, eye-opening for all of us.  Seeing family members die at gunpoint.  Struggling to make ends meet.  Watching shiny new buildings go up across the street yet feeling that the people who work and study there don’t care about you.

At the same time, despite the many disconnections between us and the community, Hakim and ‘Pastor Larry’ gave us hope that things could be different.  That we could bless the community, and, that they could bless us… if we are willing to ‘go first’ and ‘get uncomfortable.’  (Sounds like Someone Else I know).

With that promise, we invited them to speak again recently, this time to a broader audience at Temple that included people from the administration and students outside our campus group.  While many who came don’t share our faith, they do share our heart for the community.  Toward the end, it was exciting to see many brainstorming about how we can specifically improve the school’s relationship with the community.   It also seems likely that they will return to address each year’s students.

This event is part of a much larger picture of what God is doing in the area – and – us.  The students in our campus group, for example, recruited 20 of their peers to teach science regularly at a local elementary school that has few resources due to city budgetary cuts.

In Jeremiah 29, God tells His people to ‘seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’.  While there are obvious differences between the original hearers’ circumstances and our own, this passage certainly means that we need to care about the place where God has planted us, and, that our well-being is connected to that of those around us.

This is not how we usually think, of course.  It’s all too common for students to parachute in, get their training, and then get out, moving on to wherever they’re going.  This is entirely understandable, but it’s not a Jeremiah 29 approach.  Especially at a place like Temple, where the community’s needs are so clear and the opportunities to learn from it are so great.

And so, with God’s help, I’m committed to helping our students ‘go first’ and ‘get uncomfortable’.  My heart is that they will graduate not merely with clinical competence, but with God’s own heart for those around them.  It just may be that some of the most important lessons they learn during medical school take place outside the confines of their classrooms.

As we always do, we want to take a moment and say thank you for making all this possible through your generous prayers and gifts.  You are an essential part of this ministry!

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise for God’s faithfulness in all He’s doing in and through our Temple students.  And, further praise for the many others who are involved in other aspects of the work.  Please pray for wisdom as we consider next steps, and, for me as I help others implement them.
  • Praise for new leaders at our area campuses.  All but one of our new teams has at least four leaders!  Please pray for Penn, which would be blessed as others step up.  And, pray for me as I try to shepherd each team through this transitional season.
  • Finally, please pray for good times of mentoring over the next month, before students go home for the summer, or, move on to rotations.
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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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Summer Half-time Report

July 26, 2012

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s already past ‘half-time’ for our summer.  Although the students are scattered far and wide, many are in the area and we have been busy seizing the opportunities God is giving us.  Here are some first-half highlights!

Penn Dental

For years now, we’ve been trying to connect with our city’s dental campuses, Penn and Temple.  (After all, we are the Christian Medical & Dental Associations!)  However, with fewer dental students and professionals in the area, connections have been harder to come by.  Recently, though, we met Brianna and she brought 6 other Penn Dental students to our home for a night of connecting, sharing and dreaming about what it might look like to reach Penn Dental for Christ.  At the end, Brianna invited us to spend more time on campus and support them in the year ahead.

Bible Study Dinners

With so many students around, we decided to continue our bible study meals during June and July.  Although attendance is more sporadic with summer plans, we’ve averaged 15 and experienced the same great fellowship and significant interactions we’re used to all year.  This summer, our focus has been “The Things That Really Matter”, with 2 Timothy as our guide.

The Love Bug

Many of our students are in various stages of relationships, and recently Sharon and I have had the privilege of meeting with three couples this summer.  The first couple is getting married in a few days, the second is in a season of re-evaluation, while the third is somewhere in-between.  If I had to choose a theme verse for these times, it might be Proverbs 20:5: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”  Sometimes I’m not sure how much “understanding” we possess, but our aim is to shine God’s light on the ‘deep waters’ these couples are facing so that they can grow together in Christ.  It’s one of our highest joys to help them make sense of their relationships from God’s perspective.

One On One

This summer, we’ve really focused on making sure we get even more good time with students and physician friends one-on-one.  On campus, in our home, at local coffee shops… wherever it may be, personal relationships are at the heart of our ministry.  Let me share just a few examples with you.

In one meeting, a student shared about challenges he’s experienced in relating to his sister, an atheist-agnostic who’s ‘witnessing’ to him out of concern that his faith in Christ is damaging to him.  We also spent some time talking about assurance of salvation, something that’s important as he’s still a relatively newer Christian.

I also had the opportunity to meet with a physician friend who is active in mentoring students in the city.  I was impressed when he came with a list of things he wanted to talk about!  One of our key topics was talking about some challenges in mentoring relationships he’s involved in.  It was exciting not only to see him wrestling with these obstacles, but to have the chance to speak into them and give him suggestions for making progress.  This is one of the ways God is allowing us to multiply our ministry!

Thanks so much for making all this possible through your prayers, gifts and love.  We are very conscious of our dependence upon the Lord and you!

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • Praise for a solid end to our fiscal year (June 30th).  Please pray for God’s faithfulness moving forward.
  • Praise for so many good meetings with students and physicians throughout the summer.  It’s been one of our best ever!
  • Pray for these last few weeks before the students return: follow-ups and planning with campus leaders so that ‘fall’ begins well; key discipleship times; things to come together for our fall Intermed (weekend of worship, teaching and fellowship).
  • Pray for wisdom as we continue to meet with the couples we mentioned above.
  • Pray for God’s grace in the lives of the first-year students about to arrive on our campuses.  Pray that many will seek Him, and, that those who already do will become connected to our campus ministries and good local churches.
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Journey to Jesus

June 13, 2012

As this academic year ends, I’d like to tell you (with his permission) about one student’s journey to faith in Jesus.

Toward the beginning of the year, Mat liked Christianity and its premises, but admitted that he was somewhat on the outside looking in.  Then, after returning to his apartment, he realized he lost his checkbook on campus.

Understandably upset, he returned to campus and ran into another student who could tell he was upset.  After Mat filled her in, she offered to help him look for the checkbook even though she barely knew him.  Although they were not successful, the student said she would pray for Mat and that really struck him.  He felt like God was becoming real in his life, the very thing he’d been hoping and praying for.

Two days later, on Sunday, he found a Facebook message from one of his fellowship’s leaders saying that the wallet was found and already back in his campus mailbox.  Beyond being relieved, he again saw God at work and becoming present in his life.

A few days later, though, doubts began to set in.  ‘Was that really God?  Or, was it just a coincidence?’  Mat continued to read his bible and connect with Christians on campus, but still, he hadn’t made a decision to follow Christ personally.

I can remember one meeting with him where I asked what was holding him back.  He reflected for a moment, then said, “I’m not sure.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing, but I’m not really sure what they are.”  And so, I continued to pray with and for him for God to keep reaching out to him.

Perhaps a week ago, Mat and I met again for lunch.  This time, something he said made me think that his relationship with Christ had changed.  “Wait a second,” I said.  “Has your relationship with Jesus changed?!”

He then reminded me of a conversation we had where he shared about a Mark Driscoll sermon he heard a month or two ago.  The sermon, from Luke, said that at some point we need to be satisfied with the evidence we have and make a decision to embrace Christ personally.  Although Mat didn’t become a Christian when he first heard the message, he really thought about it and eventually decided he needed to ‘go all in’.

Although there were no ‘fireworks’ or a clearly-defined moment of faith, something very dramatic has happened to Mat.  Like Christ said, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).  It’s been so exciting to see God’s faithfulness to Mat and watch his journey to Jesus.

He also understands that, in some ways, the journey is just beginning.  Thankfully, he’ll have a break from classes this summer, so we’re planning to meet together regularly to see what it means to be a disciple and keep growing in Christ.

It’s such a privilege for me to play a small, but real, role in the lives of students like Mat.  Thanks for your prayers and support that allows us to journey alongside them!

In Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

Quick prayers and praises:

  • praise God for His work in Mat’s life and pray for that work to continue.
  • praise God for a phenomenal year of reaching students for Christ.  We saw so many changed lives and watched the students reach out with passion to their classmates!
  • pray for our summer: we will host a new bible study on 2 Timothy in our home and meet with many students individually for discipleship. Pray also that God gives us wisdom as we help campus leaders plan for the fall.  Also, many new students and residents will be coming to town, so please ask that we connect with them quickly and start forming relationships with them.
  • Pray also for me and our student leadership team as we plan for our fall ‘Intermed’, our gathering of students/professionals for worship, teaching and fellowship.  It’s a great opportunity for me to invest in many of our key leaders, and, for them to get hands-on experience that will prepare them for future investment as they become healthcare providers!
  • Finally, pray for this fall’s incoming students.  We are praying for many Christians, skeptics and seekers that we can encourage on their own journeys to Jesus.
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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!