Loving Our Neighbors, Part 1

The Summer Medical Institute 2018

by Holly Favino May 5, 2018

In the Bible Jesus said that after loving God wholeheartedly, the second greatest commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Upon consideration, this requires much on our part. To love our neighbors implies that we must know them—who they are and where they live. We must talk with them, interact with them, and understand details of their lives.

From June 23-July 14, 18 Christian health care students will be learning to know and share God’s love with our neighbors in North Philadelphia during the Summer Medical Institute (SMI), an annual medical outreach for Christian health care students run by Medical Campus Outreach, a ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church, in partnership with Esperanza Health Center (a Christian medical center in North Philadelphia).

Wearing scrubs, stethoscopes, and medical backpacks, the students will work (and live) in the underserved communities of Kensington and Hunting Park in North Philadelphia. They will provide free door-to-door health screens for blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as health education and referrals. They will also share the love of Christ through conversation and prayer, referring those interested to local partner churches who provide follow-up. Also, immediately after the Philadelphia project, a few of the SMI students will participate in an SMI program in Albania for two weeks, working with a Christian health center as they apply their skills in this predominantly Muslim but open country.

These projects require time, effort, and a desire to be intentional—just as loving our neighbors often does. In her application, SMI 2018 participant, Clara, explained her motivation to do SMI:

I want to participate in SMI this year because I want to learn and practice how to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, engage in spiritual conversations, and pray with people, specifically in the clinical setting… I see a career in medicine as a platform to share the love and knowledge and healing of Jesus Christ with patients, coworkers, and families. This is because the gospel is the most important and best news ever!

We pray that God’s name will be made known in the efforts and desires of those involved in SMI!

How can you help?

Faculty: if you’re a medical professional and would enjoy providing informal relational mentoring to students as you accompany them in their work, come volunteer a day or more as an SMI faculty member (no training needed). Not only is it a meaningful opportunity to meet and serve our neighbors in North Philadelphia, but the relationships made with the students are so valuable.

Cooks: We will have 21 hungry people to feed each evening! We use different volunteer cooks each night to provide a meal for the group (we can reimburse you for your costs if you keep the receipts). It’s a huge blessing for the teams to return to a delicious meal. Cooks may join us for dinner, or meals can be dropped off.

Interpreters: We will need substitute Spanish/English interpreters for our group. While we do have regular community interpreters, we often need extra.

Financial Support: Half of our budget is raised by student support, and the rest through grants and individual donations.

Prayer: Pray that needs will be met and that people can be introduced to the local churches. Pray that students will be spiritually strengthened and learn to have a heart for the underserved and the unsaved, wherever their careers take them. Pray for Esperanza Health Center, our church partners, our faculty, and our interpreters.

Please contact me if you have any questions or are interested in more details about serving SMI in any way. Stay tuned for “Part 2” when we can share the results of this year’s projects!