Archive for the ‘Winter Conference’ Category

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Winter Conference Report; Looking Forward

January 25, 2013
'Ice fishing'! (see the overhead projection screen)

Indoor ‘Ice fishing’! (see the overhead projection screen)

Worship Time

Worship Time

Thanks so much for your prayers for our Winter Conference.  Now that the conference is ‘in the books’, I wanted to provide a short report on all that God did.

More than anything, the conference provides space for our busy students and professionals to come away and be alone with Christ and each other.  As we can all attest, the craze of daily life often makes it hard to slow down and connect with God as we want to.  Through our speaker, times of worship, and plenty of space for quiet and community, our retreat is designed to be the perfect remedy for a busy life and heart.  For many, I really believe that the theme of ‘Reverse Course: Going Backward to Move Forward’ was realized.

The highlight for me – as always – is the undistracted space I have to connect with those who come.  In many ways, the weekend is like one long, wonderful conversation.  To give you a flavor, here are some quick highlights:

  • A conversation with a recent student (new professional) where we discussed a painful relational breakup he recently experienced.  I had the chance to offer understanding, as well as a challenge to not shut down his heart toward the Lord or future risks.
  • A brief interaction with a student from NY who would like to hold a ‘Doubt Night’ (skeptics and seekers express, and receive responses to, their doubts about Christianity) at her campus.  We’ve already followed-up via email, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord does through the event!
  • A conversation with a physician about her struggles to be a witness at work and beyond when members of her own family are not walking with Christ.  Mainly, I was able to be a listening ear and let her know I would pray.  In this case, I think that’s all she needed.
  • I organized a late-night ‘Denny’s run’ with about 20 from Philadelphia, something that’s becoming an annual Winter Conference tradition.  In this more laid-back setting, it’s wonderful to start seeing a new side of the students and connecting with them more personally.  We covered everything from ‘best summer ever’ to ‘what you learned from the speaker’.  I also had a great time with one of our key leaders at Penn during the car ride there and back.

Thank you for your prayers.  We are so thankful for what God did and trust that He will extend the value far beyond our weekend together.  Your prayers are such an important part of that.

With Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

PS Please pray for:

  • God to help us live out what He taught us over the weekend.
  • God’s blessing on our men’s brunch this coming Saturday.  We’ll start looking at key men from the Bible in an attempt to better follow Christ.
  • Sharon & I as we provide relationship mentoring for a key student couple.  Also, for wisdom as we evaluate the need for a seminar on relationships.
  • God to add members to our ministry ‘council’ (group of folks who minister alongside me, and help provide direction for the ministry).
  • God to provide new student leaders as our existing leaders transition out (March-April), and, that He would give me wisdom in assisting them in this process.
  • God to create a deepening sense of dependency on Him, and as a result, a greater commitment to prayer among our healthcare community.  We tend to be self-reliant but want to keep growing in this area!
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Winter Conference Starts Tonight!

January 18, 2013
The view from my window as the first students arrive.

The view from my window as the first students arrive.

As I write this short update, I can see the first students start to arrive for our annual CMDA Northeast Winter Conference.  As always, this weekend is one of excitement and anticipation as 150 healthcare students and professionals gather together for teaching, fellowship, worship and refreshment.

I’ll provide a fuller update next week, but for now, please pray that God:

  • gives us hearts that are receptive and ready to meet with him;
  • helps me connect meaningfully with those who attend, and particularly with those from Philadelphia;
  • that God empowers Dr. Joseph Harvey as he speaks on “Reverse Course: Backing Up To Move Forward”.  Using Genesis 50 as his starting point, Dr. Harvey hopes to challenge students and professionals to step back from the intense world of medicine, remembering God and His promises, so that they can again move forward with passion.
  • that the work God accomplishes here would not stay here, but rather be transforming as we return home.  Pray that God would give me discernment as I seek to follow-up in the weeks ahead.

We expect that God already has big plans for our time here.  I can’t wait to share with you how it all unfolds!

 

 

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Winter Conference Recap

January 18, 2012

God gave us a great turnout!

Thanks so much for praying for our CMDA Winter Conference!  God really blessed our weekend.  In this update, I want to give you an inside look at the weekend through some “statistics”, pictures and snapshots of what God did.

Winter Conference By The Numbers

One of our group worship times.

Mere numbers can never capture the relationships they represent, but these quick “stats” may give you a unique perspective on my experience at the conference.

  • 160 students, healthcare providers and other attendees from Connecticut to southern Virginia
  • 53 hours from start to finish over 3 days and 2 nights
  • 3 hours of driving, 10 hours of sleep and 40 hours of conversations and logistics
  • conversations with 89 different people, many of which were in-depth
  • 30 new people met
  • 4 talks and times of worship with our students and healthcare providers
  • 2 car rides with our speaker and his family where we spoke at length
  • 1 phenomenal time of planning for a spring mini-retreat with other Philly students and physicians

Zooming In

Although Winter Conference takes place on a larger scale, in many ways it’s also about the many individual and small group interactions that God provides.  This is where some of the most intense ministry takes place, often unnoticed.  Here are snapshots of some of my favorite times at the conference.

The Penn students from this year's conference.

Throughout the weekend, I enjoyed sharing a room with three of the Penn guys.  After I agreed to help the Penn ladies pull a prank on them, I was discovered and wound up being pranked myself, with my reaction unwittingly captured on video!  These are the kind of rare opportunities to connect and have fun together that only happen at conferences like these.

Dr. Charlene Brock with some of the Drexel students

It was a joy watching two of our local council members, Drs. Charlene Brock and Jerry Hric, make it down for the conference.  Like everyone on our council, they have such a heart for investing in the students, and it’s exciting to invest in God’s work as a team.

God gave me lots of great conversations with students from Philly.  One shared about a new dating relationship he had just begun and ways in which God was helping him re-engage spiritually and relationally.  In between sessions, a leader asked if we could talk about the lower turnout from his school, and what we could do to strengthen involvement at his campus.  Another leader mentioned that her campus had significant involvement from first-year students, but that as of yet none seemed ready to lead for next year.  I was thankful for the chance to encourage these students and learn about important campus dynamics that I can follow-up on now that we’re back in the city.

During worship, Matt Redman’s “Never Once” became our theme song over the weekend.  Its words were, at the same time, our experience and prayer:

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
 
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did you leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
 

Some of the guys & I at Denny's

As the song mentions, the conference was a sort of “mountaintop” for many of us, a vantage point from which we could see all that God has done, particularly as we look back on where we were just one year ago.

One student, “Mark”, was wrestling through what it meant to be a leader during last year’s conference.  God blessed us with an important conversation then that He used (in part) to help Mark take important new steps of faith and courage that transformed him and the ministry on his campus.  It was incredibly gratifying to watch Mark – without any prompting on my part – take initiative in advance of this year’s conference to gather the Philly area folks there for a spring ministry planning meeting.  Even better, his vision is to provide direction while enlisting others to step up so the conference can be self-sustaining from year-to-year.  While God gets the credit, I’m thankful to have played – and continue to play – a role in Mark’s development as a leader who is beginning to develop other leaders.  This is how the Kingdom multiplies!

There’s so much more I could share, but I hope this view from the ‘mountaintop’ gives you a taste for what God did.  Thank you for making weekends like this one possible through your faithful partnership with us.  To God be the glory!

Bryan & Sharon

PS – A special thanks to Jefferson student Sharon Li for permission to use her (fantastic) pictures!

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CMDA Winter Conference Roundup

January 19, 2011

Thanks to everyone who prayed for my time at Winter Conference.  Without a doubt, it was the best one I’ve ever been part of!  Here’s a quick roundup on all that God did:

Campus Renewal

Our Drexel group at the conference

The most obvious sign of your prayers was Drexel’s campus fellowship time on Saturday evening.  Dr. Kim, our speaker for the weekend, had just challenged us to think about what “sacrificial living” looks like for us as individuals.  As we transitioned to our campus time, most of us had a strong sense that God was leading us as a group to be hungrier for him than we have been before, and that He wants to do more in and through us at Drexel.

Just after that time, one of the student leaders approached me and shared that he wants to step up and lead more boldly.  I had the chance to encourage him that this season of renewal is a perfect time for him to do that, and he has really responded.  He and another student have challenged the group to begin fasting during Wednesday lunch times, and already 9 of us have signed on, eager to see what God will do.  I’m excited because this is what discipleship is all about: coming alongside others and empowering them to impact others for Christ!

One Long Conversation

I love Winter Conference because it’s essentially one long conversation comprised of countless mini-conversations.  Here are a few highlights:

  • One student had been struggling with significant anxiety.  A few of her friends and I had the chance to talk with her, and I received a nice email from her the following day: “Thanks for the awesome conversation that we had the other night and for the clarity and insight that you provided. I’m feeling a lot less anxious now and I’m eager to figure out God’s purpose for me.”
  • A physician from Philadelphia came down to the conference on Saturday, and we had a fantastic conversation late into the evening to begin discussing ways he can become more involved in our local leadership.
  • The conference speaker pulled me into a circle of students to start talking about ways I can be a resource as they try to start a medical outreach in New York City this spring.
  • Another student and I had dinner to catch up and follow-up on an email he had sent me.  He’s been deeply connected to our family through our bible study dinners, and wanted to know more about how he can support us as he starts to earn “real dollars” during residency.  We were humbled by this expression of love and commitment.  It was also a testimony to the investment one of our council members had made in him, challenging him to use his resources for the kingdom.

Bringing The Impact Home

Several of our students, from many different campuses, got together during the conference to see how they can work in a more coordinated way back home.  Already they have planned a follow-up meeting, which I hope to participate in, later this month.  By bringing people together in one location and casting a kingdom-sized vision, Winter Conference serves as a springboard for ministry well after it ends.

Thanks again for making it possible for me to be there.  Your investment in our family is reaping eternal rewards that only He can fully comprehend!

For the Kingdom,

Bryan

Here are a few prayer-and-praise items to place before His throne:

  • Praise for an absolutely wonderful conference!  The conversations mentioned above were just a small sampling of what God did!
  • Pray that God continues to bless Drexel’s fellowship as it responds to His work at the conference.  Pray also that our fasting would be a true response to Him, and result in greater dependency and prayer, rather than be something we ‘just do.’   Ask God to give me wisdom as I seek to be a wise resource for the student who would like to lead even more effectively.
  • Pray that God gives the local physician I mentioned above, and our council, wisdom as we prayerfully discern the role God is calling him to within our ministry.
  • Pray for the students who are hoping to work together more to grasp God’s vision, and, to have the courage and perseverance to follow Him wherever He leads.  Pray also that He would give me, and others in the city, wisdom to support and guide them well.
  • Praise God for a fantastic year-end giving season.   Although our budgetary needs have risen substantially the past few years, God has provided for them all.  This means I can now work on growing a small reserve for our account and funding whatever new initiatives He is calling us to!  Thanks to all of you who have been so very generous!
  • Finally, pray for a local medical outreach (sponsored by MCO) I’ll be participating in this Saturday from lunch until dinner.  Located in the same neighborhood as SMI Philly, this is an exciting opportunity to connect with some of our key students, love the community for Christ, and learn how to share our faith more effectively!
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Winter Conference Starts Tonight!

January 14, 2011

As I write, the first of 170 students, physicians and other healthcare workers from around the Mid-Atlantic region are slowly filtering in here at Sandy Cove, the site for our annual Winter Conference.  Located on the shores of the Chesapeake, Sandy Cove provides an ideal backdrop for a restful getaway.

I’ll update you on all that God does during our time here later, but I want to ask you to keep me, and everyone here, in prayer for the next two days.  Here are some specifics:

  • Pray for God to pour out His Spirit on our time here – everything that’s good, and lasting, comes from Him.
  • Pray that God would give those who come deep rest.  The students in particular are exhausted from a grueling semester, and another one is already underway.
  • Pray for me as I have conversations throughout the weekend.  Over 50 are here from Philadelphia, so this is a strategic time of connection for me.   Pray that I would be sensitive to God’s Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis!
  • Pray for our speaker, Dr. David Kim, a physician who leads a community health center in Staten Island, NY.  (For those of you who are familiar with Esperanza in Philadelphia, they are very similar).  His theme is “Faithful God, Faithful Presence”, and we all need to be re-impacted by what he will share.
  • Pray that God would use the Christian community here to strengthen, encourage and challenge itself.  We are trusting that God will be at work during simple interactions over mealtimes, free time, and late-night talks.

That’s all for now.  Thank you so much for standing with me in prayer!

Bryan

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God’s Work at Winter Conference

January 19, 2010

Thanks so much for praying for my time at Winter Conference.  It was truly one of the best conferences I’ve ever been part of.  Here’s why:

  • the speaker challenged everyone who came to step back to think and pray about God’s specific purpose for their lives.   With medicine being so intense, this “bigger picture” praying and thinking is absolutely critical.
  • the weekend for me was essentially one big conversation with many students and physicians!  I was able to have in-depth, undistracted conversations with nearly every one of my key students who were able to come.
  • during our campus group times (where we process what God is showing us as a campus fellowship) with Drexel and PCOM, God was clearly at work.  Here are a few snapshots:
  • [Through tears] “I can’t believe that I’m going to be a real doctor [upon graduation] in just five months, and I haven’t thought through all the ethical issues Dr. Stevens mentioned in his talks.  I’ve really got to work and pray through those issues.”
  • “I’ve been so lonely as I’ve been away on rotations.  I can’t tell you how good it is just to see you all here again!”
  • From a student who knows the Lord, but has been disconnected from Him, and the campus fellowship: “This weekend has been really good for me.  I’m going to be more involved with the fellowship back on campus now.”  I also had the chance to speak about this student with his father, a physician who was attending the conference.
  • I led a communion service on Sunday morning that God blessed richly.  It was a wonderful way to seal God’s work in us throughout the weekend.
  • God used the many interactions I had with students throughout the weekend to get many excited about our medical bible study and dinner, hosted in our home, coming up this Saturday.  We expect our largest crowd ever!

As you can see, God was at work in powerful ways, no doubt largely due to your prayers.  Please pray for me as I encourage the students to live out what they learned, as well as for our bible study and dinner this Saturday at 6pm.

Thanks so very much for your prayerful partnership!

Bryan & Sharon Stoudt

PS  Please pray for Sharon and the kids, who were unable to join me due to illness.

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Winter Conference This Weekend!

January 15, 2010

Dear partners in Christ’s work,

In just six hours, 160 students and healthcare professionals from all over the mid-Atlantic region will be coming to Sandy Cove Conference Center for our Northeast Regional Winter Conference.   Always a highlight, they come to hear great teaching, participate in small groups, enjoy fellowship, and relax.

With the Chesapeake in the background, the sun sets at Sandy Cove.

This year’s theme is “If Anyone Would Come After Me: A Call to Consecration, Commitment, Conscience, and Commission”.  It gives healthcare professionals a chance to step back and ask themselves questions like, “Who am I in Christ?”, “Why am I in healthcare?”, and “To what has God called me as a follower of Christ?”  Since their typical pace of life is so frenetic, the conference is an essential opportunity for much-needed reflection and redirection.

With this in mind, please keep the following requests in prayer:

  • for God to powerfully meet with, impact, and refresh, each student and healthcare professional who attends.  In particular, that He would help them re-ask the sort of “big” questions I mention above, and then help them to make any changes He’s calling them to.  We’re aiming for long-term transformation!
  • for our speaker, CMDA CEO Dr. David Stevens.  He’s a tremendous speaker, and yet he needs the Holy Spirit to empower his messages.
  • for Sharon and the children, who will join me on Saturday.  Pray for the many interactions Sharon will have with the students, and that God would use our family to give the students a tangible ‘portrait’ of what a Christian family can look like.
  • for me, as I talk with students throughout the weekend.  Our conversations are opportunities for me to encourage and challenge them, and give me many prayer and ministry concerns to follow-up on later.  Pray also that the messages would help me help the students in this regard.  Finally, pray that God would bless my administrative and worship-leading roles over the weekend.

Thank you, friends, for standing with me during the weekend.  Let’s expect – and pray for – God to do great things!

Grace to you,

Bryan