Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. (1 Chronicles 16:23-24)
Yes, it was the plan from the beginning. No, we had no idea how God would bless it! Overseas Instruction in Counseling (OIC) was launched in 2006 with one missionary couple–Susie and me–with no financial support and with no curriculum.
It was a burden (pastors around the world need help) that turned into an idea (someone should dedicate their life to helping them) that eventually became a ministry: OIC. The vision became a reality—biblical sufficiency-based counseling training for pastors “among the nations” (see 1 Chron. 16:24, above).
What Was the Plan?
Because Susie and I were already in our mid-50s in 2006 and were joyfully anticipating the possibility of our twenty or so final years of active ministry service for our Lord (assuming that by our mid-70s the aging process would eventually limit our service; we still hope not!), we sketched out some basic five-years-at-a-time goals for launching OIC.
The first five years: Figure out how to do it. This would include recruiting a board of directors, completing the paperwork necessary for OIC to be “legal,” developing and field-testing a curriculum and delivery systems, determining our vision, mission, strategic objectives, and values statements, establishing local-to-global (prayer and financial) partnerships in the USA, and developing ministry partnerships around the world. And, toward the end of this first period, we included asking our Lord to begin to provide others who could help us in this mission.
The next five years: Do it and enlist others to help us do it. Being in our mid-60s by the end of that time, we also anticipated working with the board to draw the profile of the next executive director of OIC.
The third five years: Do it more effectively, add additional missionaries, and complete the leadership transition.
And finally: Continue to serve with OIC, including serving the new director in a variety of ways that would be determined.
What Did God Do?
Fully aware that our plan was just that–our plan–and that God had no obligation to even consult us (Job 38:4ff) much less honor our ideas, we set out to accomplish those aforementioned first-five-years’ objectives. Challenges abounded; God’s grace was sufficient. Through many blunders and failures, God allowed us to develop an on-site, multi-modular, sequential-curriculum-driven, strategic-objective-focused, pastor-and-church-strengthening biblical counseling training curriculum. And, right on (our) time (which became an evidence of God’s timing and goodness), our Lord sent a sweet and dedicated couple, Rod and Mary Huber, to join our team in 2011.
We wondered, would others also like to share in this important work, marrying the passions of biblical counseling training and international ministry? Maybe. The only way to find out was to hold what mission boards generically call a “candidate school,” and what we chose to call a Missionary Training Conference (MTC). So, we announced such an event for the first week of December 2013 in the St. Louis area.
Our gracious Lord, who cares much more about the souls of the people in the nations than we ever could, appointed four families to international biblical counseling training. When we held our second MTC two years later in Houston, four more families were added to our team. Last year in Jacksonville, FL, our team welcomed five additional families. We were delighted to welcome Dr. Andrew Rogers to our team earlier this year as our Director of Academic Programs. And just one month ago, October 3-5, we held our most recent MTC in Texas, through which we will add another 4-5 missionary families. Our current team of sixteen families will soon become twenty or more! Who could have imagined that God would send so many precious people to share in the work of bringing biblical sufficiency-based soul care to the pastors and Christian leaders in the nations of the world?
Our next OIC Missionary Training Conference, an event that will again immediately follow the ACBC Annual Conference (this time in Memphis, TN), will be very special for reasons that we will soon be able to announce.
Why Do We Train Others?
That’s an easy one! While His words were aimed at evangelism, not church strengthening, Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). There is a worldwide and exigent need for the personalized, practical theology that our soul care training provides.
But, there are others reason we train others: because we share God’s goal that His glory be known among the nations, because God has blessed us with resources that should be shared, because we have developed and tested the one thing most people who want to teach overseas lack—a curriculum—so we can meet the invitations that regularly come to us from nations around the world.
What happens at an MTC?
MTC days are busy days! Click here to view the 2018 MTC schedule.
There is worship, daily morning devotions, informational lectures, testimonials from those working with us, sessions that are specific to potential directors and experienced directors, small group discussion sessions, mealtimes, and Q & A sessions.
How Do First-Time Attenders Respond to the Training?
Here are just a few comments from our just-completed MTC:
“The hospitality extended to me as a first-time and unexpected attender was overwhelming. The Christ-like behavior and attitudes demonstrated by the leaders, trainers, and veterans was inspiring. The content presented was thoroughly biblical, culturally sensitive without compromising biblical truth, and very helpful in equipping those in attendance for service. OIC serves a critical need in biblical counseling internationally and I’m excited at the prospect of serving Christ and His church through this wonderful organization.”
“The MTC helped me to understand better the ministry of OIC, and it provided specific insight into how their missionaries are fulfilling the Great Commission by strengthening national churches/pastors through biblical counseling training. I appreciated the thought and intentionality that went behind each topic and presentation. I also learned about how God is faithfully working overseas in various cultures and how people are gaining a bigger perspective of who God is.”
“We were thankful to hear about the ministries and sense the heart of individuals who have partnered with OIC. It was helpful to hear the impact and to see the pictures from their trips.”
“The MTC was very informative. We are excited to learn that there are people who are working to spread biblical counseling around the world.”
How Can You Be a Part of What OIC Is Doing?
Join us! You could soon be “Leading Short-Term International Biblical Counseling Training Programs – without Leaving Your Ministry!”
Click on this link to access the OIC MTC Interest List Questionnaire for 2019. We’re already looking forward to seeing you in Memphis next October!
Join the Conversation
Where have you, where are you, and where do you plan to do biblical counseling-related ministry through your ministry overseas? What has been the nature of that work–conferences, academic programs, or church-based (pastor-focused) programs? What have been the requirements for those participants engaged in your overseas ministry? What have you found to be the greatest challenges in your international work?