From CMF news - spring 2010 - Raising up workers [p01]
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During the heaviest snowfall of the winter I rose at 4am, abandoned my car in drifts on the side of the road near the station, got stranded in a darkened railway carriage during a power failure, and eventually arrived at Gatwick to find the airport closed and my flight diverted to Heathrow. The M25 closed 20 minutes after we passed through by bus, and by God's grace I found myself on a flight to Atlanta, Georgia only seven hours late, as opposed to not at all.
I was due to give the Bible readings on the book of Acts at a missions conference run by a US sister organisation called Medical Campus Outreach (MCO). About 200 Christian medical students from just two medical campuses attended the event at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. And before the conference I had the privilege of spending some time with brothers and sisters at one of these campuses in Charleston, South Carolina.
The MCO ministry had started over a decade before with two paediatricians deciding to drop sessions in private practice in order to disciple medical students. By the time I visited there were seven paediatricians in a single private practice all of whom had decided to work just three days a week in clinical jobs so they could spend the rest of their time, unpaid, in student ministry. Each couple had bought a house in one suburb of the city where they lived with their families and were able to open their homes, model Christian community and share, in Paul's words, 'not just the Word of God but their lives as well'.
The fruit of this huge commitment in time and finance was obvious – in many mature, growing Christian students, a substantial proportion of whom had come to faith while at medical school, and who were now following in the footsteps of their older colleagues in mentoring and discipling the next generation.
Another striking factor in the success of this ministry was the commitment and involvement of the local church. One local church had invested $100,000 per year in medical student ministry alone in this one city, paying for a full time administrator, local events and resources. They ran an excellent teaching programme but the mainstay of the work was time spent in lives lived together. Their commitment to Christ was as much 'caught' as 'taught'.
The trip made me reflect. How seriously do we really take Christ's great commission to go and make disciples, and how much do we really value Christian fellowship? The writer to the Hebrews exhorted his readers to invest their lives in one another: 'And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching' (Hebrews 10:24,25). And Jesus asked his disciples to pray for God to raise up more workers: 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field' (Luke 10:2).
Do we know the other Christian doctors in our churches, our hospitals, our cities? Are we taking an interest in the medical students in our local medical school? Are there a few key people in the next generation to whom we are passing on what Christ has taught us? Might we consider dropping a session or two to create more space for helping Christian colleagues – students or doctors – in this way?
CMF's theme in 2010 is 'building community, strengthening ministry'. This will involve additions to the staff team – and we have already advertised and are searching for a new nurses' student staff worker (see p8) and a new staff worker for graduates (p4). These people will be essential catalysts for achieving our aims.
But the real difference will be made by individuals who are serious about creating space for others by getting involved where they are right now – stirring up, and encouraging one another, where God has already placed us in churches, hospitals and GP practices. Our vision is to have 20-30 members willing to drop sessions to focus on encouraging, discipling and developing others. But anybody making space to give any spare time at all to invest in Christian colleagues will make a difference. How about you?
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16).
Let's do it for Jesus.