Jan just moved to Philadelphia this summer. As an emergency room intern she has a new job in an unfamiliar hospital, a new apartment, and a new roommate. All of this “uprooted-ness” happened in a mere three weeks, and Jan is feeling a bit unmoored. What she thought was going to be her exciting adventure in the city has become a confusing whirlwind.
During medical school, Jan was able to go to the campus Bible study some of the time as it was convenient and had friends there, but church attendance dropped off as she got busy in the hospital. She knows she should find fellowship in Philadelphia but does not know where to start as she has no contacts here. Besides, she had to work two of the last three Sundays. Today Jan is a bit more desperate because a patient died unexpectedly, and she just spent ten minutes in the bathroom crying. What to do? Who to listen to? Who will listen to her?
Dr. Rich Shoemaker, Medical Campus Outreach (MCO) alum and a frequent speaker at our events, maintains that the education and on-the-job healthcare training constitute a type of discipleship like that depicted in Scripture. Every year he challenges our students and residents by asking this question, “Whose disciple will you be?” All the verbiage that healthcare students receive from their instructors, classmates, coworkers, and friends can sometimes drown out the voice of Jesus, even for believers. A major goal of MCO is to maintain and strengthen the voice of Christ in the lives of believers and to invite those yet to believe into the divine conversation. We talk to students at campus Bible studies, offer counsel over coffee, and invite special speakers to help us discuss the tougher topics.
When going into a new situation or when I’m meeting unfamiliar people, especially on a secular campus, I sometimes think of this famous dialogue:
“Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” (John 18:37-38).
What is truth—that is the question of the ages, right? Pluralism and relativism are not new; they just look different from decade to decade. We bear witness to Jesus as the voice of truth while we live life alongside healthcare students; that is the ministry of Medical Campus Outreach.
Tenth has several student-focused groups—MCO, Internationals Outreach, and Tenth College Fellowship—that covet your prayers and support especially as we gear up during the fall. Campus ministry is especially strategic and needed in Philadelphia where there is an extraordinary number of schools, several within easy access to our church. Perhaps you are the medical professional Jan needs for counsel and prayer. Perhaps yours is the family to invite for dinner the three roommates from East Asia who have never been in an American home. Students away from home can be particularly vulnerable to negative influences but can really flourish when ministered to in Jesus’ name. Help us to be his hands and feet to them.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Laura Layer. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org