We hope that with the series “The Harvesters,” you be will introduced to many different followers of Jesus who are striving to make disciples of Jesus out in the world; whether you’re in the military, a missionary, a scientist, a stay-at-home parent or anything else under the sun. Check out the full series here and may you be encouraged to do likewise in your own “fields of harvest.”
Tell us who you are and where you are
My name is Brian Trainor, I live in San Diego where I am a 3rd year medical student, partnering with The Navy Navigators ministry led by Dave Yumen and Ryan Bailey. Here I live in “The Tent” which is our version of the single’s pad. (Shout out to my current roommate Alex Aseltine.)
What type of people are you reaching for Jesus?
As a third year medical student, my primary focus has been on reaching other students at my school for Jesus. I have had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant, and this position has allowed for many conversations that began on medical concepts, that the Holy Spirit was able to turn into more personal, spiritual conversations.
For instance, one unique setting that has lead to fruitful conversations has been in the gross anatomy cadaver lab. For many students, dissecting a human body can be a serious challenge to their current worldview or beliefs on what life and death really are, and yet it is a required class, that involves hours spent in a windowless room with 12 cadavers. Some of the Friday sessions with my class, and as a teaching assistant last year, led to opportunities to share more about the hope that I have, which is in Christ Jesus.
How did that come about (is there a story there?)
While the Lord led me here through the military ministry, I have since been led to pursue a “tent-making” career in medicine. Just as God strategically used Luke’s skills as a physician to enhance and enable Paul’s ministry in the New Testament, I see my role as similar: to reach other medical students at Bastyr University California, while also using the unique position and training as a Naturopathic Doctor to treat not only the physical health of my patients, but also their spiritual health.
What is the hardest thing about being in your harvest place?
One challenge I have faced as a single guy at my school is that my program has over 80% women. This is the exact opposite ratio that I had gotten used to at West Point and in the military. I did grow up with three sisters and no brothers, which I am very thankful for now, because I am now able to view and treat each of my female classmates as my sisters!
But this ratio does make finding men to invite into my life to follow me as a follow Christ, a lot harder.
So, instead, I’ve been reminded that I can absolutely encourage women in their faith and continue to point them towards Jesus, especially in group settings. Because of this dynamic, we started a weekly prayer group, which allowed us to identify strong women of God that I could send any of the women I met who want to grow in their faith.
What has surprised you the most about bringing Jesus to people in everyday places?
I think what has surprised me the most is how receptive people can be to the message concerning God’s son Jesus during stressful and challenging times in their lives. The Bible tells us over and over again of our need for connection and fellowship, with God and with other like-hearted people. Many of the students in my program are away from their family and friends, possibly having moved across the country, and are craving true connection.
Although we spend a lot of time together as med school students, I’ve been surprised to find out just how many people feel isolated.
With this in mind, the Lord has placed it on my heart to create an ongoing fellowship that is unmistakably Christian at Bastyr University California. It meets regularly as a time to encourage one another. I my hope that it will continue on after I graduate, so that any student that starts at Bastyr can find Christians to connect and grow with.
What has encouraged you the most about your work (in the harvest)?
I think the biggest encouragement for me of working in the harvest has been the depths of relationships that have resulted from focusing on loving people the way Jesus loved and trained his disciples on earth. Previously in life I unintentionally kept others at a distance, not necessarily on purpose, but because I did not realize just how meaningful connections centered around a mutual relationship with Jesus can be.
When the chips are down, my brothers and sisters in Christ are the ones that I not only reach out to, but are still there by my side, when everyone else has scattered. I now aim to offer this same unwavering support to others as well, which I’ve found to be even more rewarding than receiving this support. I’d rather have one true partner in working for Jesus in the harvest, than one thousand more superficial friendships anyday.
I feel more strongly than ever, after a few years of laboring in the harvest, that the more our lives today feel like we are living in the New Testament, which truly is the most exciting thing we can give our lives to, the closer we are to what Jesus is calling us to be doing as disciple-makers in the 21st century.
Do you do church in the harvest? How does that look different from what we traditionally see as church today?
I do church in the harvest, because to me, since Jesus invaded my life 5 years ago, the church has always meant the group of people expressing Jesus in a particular area. For me, my church really is my fellow laborers in Chula Vista, San Diego and Coronado. In military terms, I see those 3 core hubs of believers as my church, and I view my school to currently be a combat outpost, not too far from these hubs, but on the frontline for Jesus, where God has me every day, interacting with fellow students and with patients in the clinic.
This looks different than the normal church setting we traditionally see today because the focus is on finding and developing the next generation of leaders and laborers to advance the mission of Jesus.
The goal is to not simply get more people to gather under one roof on Sunday, to hear one leader teach, but instead is to live out our faith on a daily basis, being committed to prayer, fellowship, sharing life and using the scriptures to guide us, just as the early church is described in Acts 2.42:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.