The Philadelphia Summer Medical Institute (SMI) is a project of Medical Campus Outreach (MCO), a ministry of Tenth  Presbyterian Church, partnering with Esperanza Health Center. During the three week summer project, which ran from June 28-July 19, Christian health care students live and work in the dense urban environment, providing door-to-door health screens for diabetes and blood pressure, as well as providing information about HIV, asthma, and nutrition. They share the love of Christ through conversation and prayer with those they meet. The articles here are written by various SMI student participants who have contributed to this blog series.

It’s a common experience in the world of missions for people to come in expecting to give so much to the community, only to leave having received so much more than they could have possibly given. SMI has been no different in that regard. Between the families of Northern Philly, my fellow SMI-ers, and all the folks involved in making SMI a reality; my faith has been renewed, my perspectives have been challenged, and my walk has been ignited. There is something about the idea that many times you gain more from your mission experiences than you are really able to give that has always irked me. So I thought to myself, "What unique contemplations can you take away from SMI that will allow you to better serve others in all of life’s circumstances?" Here’s what I came up with.

Empower Others

Not only does Christ use the weak to lead the strong, but he challenges us to, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above ourselves" (Philippians 2:3). I believe we often forget that all our talents, ideas, and passions are actually gifts from above. Over these last two weeks, God has challenged me to put my prideful nature aside and attempt to encourage others in the gifts they have been given. Working towards this level of cohesiveness has served not only to unite our mission team but has also allowed our team to tend to the community’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health more successfully. As a result of this team bonding, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael (a guy whose spirit is as warm and welcoming as his smile) who showed me what empowering others looks like on the world stage. He suggested a book to me entitled Revolutions in World Missions, which suggested that Americans can better serve the Christianity movement in Asia by empowering and supporting the indigenous people who already know the language, culture, and lifestyle of the villages rather than serving on missions directly.

Let It Go

As humans we naturally gravitate towards desiring control over our finances, career aspirations, relationships, and every other aspect of our lives. God challenges us to relinquish control of our lives in order that we might be saved and love others more fully. A youth leader put it eloquently many years back, “Let go and let God.” By surrendering control of our lives, we allow God to use us for the benefit of others while strengthening our relationship with him.

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

Just yesterday God demonstrated how keeping ourselves open to his work can pay dividends. We were called into a house by a gentleman who said his wife was a high risk pregnancy. She ended up having low blood pressure and low glucose as well as some cramping and dizziness. With two other premature children, we decided it was best for her to call her doctor who then directed her to the hospital. She got very emotional at the thought of having to go to the hospital because of previous bad experiences. God was able to use us in this circumstance not only to drive her to the hospital but also to comfort her through the hospital process and procedures. In order to understand the works and direction God has for our lives, I believe we need to have a personal relationship with him. Prayer has always been a difficult act for me to grasp mostly because I don’t often feel a direct connection. SMI, both through outreach and some very special people, reopened my heart to the power of prayer. I hope to carry these thoughts through our final week in North Philly and beyond, seeking to allow Christ to work through me for the benefit of others.

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