The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts. John Greenleaf Whittier
When I was in high school (about 100 years ago!), I was on the track (athletics) team. My specialty? The high hurdles. A sprint? Yes. A little technical? Yes. The key to success? Run fast, clear the barriers cleanly, and spend as little time as possible in the air.
When God allowed Overseas Instruction in Counseling (OIC) to begin our first graduate degree program in biblical counseling (in Egypt in 2009), we had the usual series of “hurdles” to clear. For example, there are always language and cultural barriers when doing ministry in other nations. In some countries, although not in Egypt at that time, there are also security hurdles. But the most challenging issue for us, a hurdle that initially seemed insurmountable, was the lack of any written biblical counseling materials—textbooks or pamphlets—in Arabic.
What God Did (Just the Backstory)
Our program began with 65 students, 8 of whom were medical doctors. One of those doctors, Yasser Farah, came to me shortly after the first module (two classes) to discuss the “no books” problem. He wondered if I might be interested to know that he owned a company that was licensed by the (then) government to translate and publish foreign language materials.
Yes! (Insert huge, delighted grin here!)
The new question was, which book(s)? I sent a questionnaire to a number of my BC friends around the country to seek their counsel. We decided that MacArthur’s Counseling: How To Counsel Biblically would be our first book project in Arabic.
God allowed us to secure the foreign rights from the publisher, He helped us raise $4,500 (for 1,000 copies; imagine that: $4.50 per copy!), and we wired that money to Cairo. When the finished product was put into the hands our students a few months later, it was judged by our students be of excellent quality, a huge compliment due to the highly technical nature of classic (written) Arabic.
What God is Doing (Get Ready to Shout, “Hallelujah!”)
That was 2010. Now, just four years later, God has allowed us, by His grace and through the generosity of churches and families from around the world, to have published 19 biblical counseling-related textbooks! They are:
Counseling: How To Counsel Biblically (MacArthur); Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (P. Tripp); The Excellent Wife (Peace); The Exemplary Husband (Scott); The Faithful Parent (Peace and Scott); Power Encounters (Powlison); Deceptive Diagnosis: When Sin is Called Sickness (Tyler and Grady); Will Medicine Stop the Pain? (Hendrickson and Fitzpatrick); Blame it on the Brain? (Welch); Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness (Welch); When People Are Big and God is Small (Welch); How People Change (Lane and P. Tripp); Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling (Kruis); Critical Stages of Biblical Counseling (Adams);A Theology of Christian Counseling (Adams); Idols of the Heart (Fitzpatrick); Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave (Welch); War of Words (P. Tripp); Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (Lane and P. Tripp).
(OK, shout here! Soli Deo Gloria!)
Two additional titles will be published this year, DV. In addition, our Lord has provided the funds for us to have translated 35 topic-specific booklets (from Resources for Changing Lives, New Growth Press, and Day One). This whole project represents an investment of about $100,000 in the continuing spiritual development and soul care training of our beloved Arab brothers and sisters.
Why is this so important? Because, in addition to our work in Egypt, God allowed us to begin a MBC program in Lebanon in 2011 and to teach biblical counseling to Master of Biblical Studies students in Jordan. We’ll begin modular training in Egypt in June, 2014. Those we’ve trained are already conducting biblical counseling training programs all across N. Africa. God is using these books and training materials all over the Middle East!
And the reception the books have generated? Well, the MacArthur text is already in its second printing!
What We Believe God Will Do
Clearing the textbook hurdle in one language has motivated us to prayerfully consider facing this challenge in other nations in the days ahead. We know that extensive work of this kind is already taking place in the Russian-speaking countries of eastern Europe and western Asia. I know this because I have a list that we use with our MABC students at Kyiv Theological Seminary in Ukraine. Translation of biblical counseling-related books has been done and is being done in Mandarin (Chinese), Spanish, Portuguese, German, and other languages. (I do not have a list for these, but I’d like to have one!)
A Final Thought
Did you read the quote at the beginning of this article? The Quaker expresses what we desire, that the books and booklets God has allowed us to put into the hands of our dear Arab brothers and sisters in Christ will not only inform, but that they will also suggest ways to move truly biblical soul care forward among the believers in Middle East.
Join the Conversation
Do you know of biblical counseling-related books and/or booklets available in other languages, especially Japanese or Hindi? More specifically—and helpfully—do you have a list of such books in those languages?
What have we missed? Or, what books would you consider to be critical in this field that we’ve failed to include, so far?