It is normally expected that those being trained to help others through biblical sufficiency-based soul care ministries will themselves first be touched by the grace of God and experience some measure of personal spiritual growth. That certainly happened to me!
But graduate academic classes in biblical counseling are sometimes just another programmatic requirement to be endured. In addition, the academic environment itself can seem theoretical, detached-from-life, even “stuffy.”
This is the story – mostly testimonies – of something God did that was the dramatic transformation of lives, families, and churches through the first two classes of a new academic program.
What We Do
Most of the work of Overseas Instruction in Counseling (DiscoverOIC.org) consists of Church Leadership Training programs. Our missionaries conducted these on-site, twice-a-year, curriculum-driven, pastor-and-church-strengthening-focused modules 36 times in 21 countries in 2017. More than 3,000 pastors and other Christian leaders participated in these programs last year.
But God has also allowed us to partner with theological schools to offer graduate-level biblical counseling programs (MBC or MABC, depending on the accrediting organization’s requirements) in many nations. This effort began in the Near East (Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan) in 2009, and then in Ukraine, where we are now training Cohort #4, in 2011.
What God Did
In July, 2017, God allowed us to fulfill a long-standing vision – a graduate-level biblical counseling program in Asia! Our partnership with the Doane Baptist Seminary in Iloilo City was the culmination of several years of visits to this geographic-center-of-the-Philippines and numerous meetings with its administrative officers. We were thrilled when we heard that the enrollment would be more than 40 (mostly Fundamental Baptist pastors) and encouraged when we discovered that our classroom location would be a recently remodeled area of the adjacent Doane Baptist Church.
But what we did not expect was the depth that the message of the transforming grace of God would take root in and change these precious fellow-believers so dramatically. Some pastors gave tearful testimony of how focusing on the heart – the desires, the passions, the worship disorders, the idols – instead of just on the behavior would revolutionize their preaching and teaching.
Here is just some of what God did for His own glory:
- This course made me see better and think better of ways I can be a much more effective Biblical Counselor that I’ve ever been to my family, friends, and others. This made me become more intentional and accountable to them. The principle “The problem is not the problem; the heart is the problem” has been a good slap for me, redirecting me to focus on what the real aim should be – total surrender to Jesus. In line with this, I’ve been praying to share basic introductory principles of biblical counseling to my reliable co-workers at church, convinced that biblical counseling is what every believer really needs to get redirected in our walk with Christ. Thank you so much, Dr. Wayne. This week has been life-changing!
- This course taught me two things, one for me and one for my ministry:1) Biblical Counseling (and this training) is necessary for my growth as a believer and as a minister of God’s Word. It is beneficial for maturity and discernment, which only comes from God’s Word. 2 Tim 3:15-17; Job 12:17-202) Biblical Counseling is not optional. It’s not just a ministry that can be added to or supplement existing ministries in the church. Biblical Counseling is a must for every church, because it is discipleship.
- This course changed my thinking about how I deal with people. Sometimes I put too much time studying for my preaching just to look good on Sundays. I had forgotten that feeding the flock doesn’t only mean preaching, but caring, loving, and sympathizing. And through Biblical Counseling I can do all of it.
- This course has changed my thinking that Biblical Counseling is not just all about giving biblical advice or solutions to problems, but it is a discipleship, a process of redirecting our worship focus on God and not on us and our problems.
- These first two classes have actually convicted me that I am drifting away from the truth. God has broken me this week in a way that I realize my effectiveness as a counselor depends upon how God changes my heart first before I can deal with the heart of other people. I can say God used these courses to put me right back on track with a God-honoring life and ministry.
- This course made me confident in doing what God’s been leading me to do – discipleship to equip fellow-believers so they too could serve and give glory to our living and sovereign God as we live our Christian life to the fullest for His honor and Glory!
- I now understand that my aim in counseling must not be merely a change of behavior but must be a heart given to God, a new heart, a transformed inner man, that would long to love God and please Him every day.
- I thought Biblical Counseling was another form of Christian Psychology. I was wrong.
- I realized that, as a pastor, who believes in the sufficiency of the scriptures, that all we need pertaining to life and godliness is available to us in Christ and His Word, I should stand firm, as this course has taught me, and prepare myself to use the all-sufficient Word of God to address, help, and resolve even the most difficult cases of human problems. It is such a privilege to learn “genuine” soul care.
- All people, not just students of behavioral sciences, have been greatly influenced by psychology. This course tremendously changed my perspective on the sufficiently of God’s Word to deal with soul care, because God Himself is the soul-giver and He alone knows everything that’s best for us. I’ve been rebuked through this course that I’m not using the Bible sufficiently to address my (informal) counselees’ needs. I’ve been passionate to counsel, but not biblically. After all, even counseling should be through God’s power and for His glory alone.
Join the Conversation
Has your life and ministry been changed through an academic program or class in biblical counseling? How can this kind of impact be extended to other regions of the world?