One week in late January a young woman from church invited me to the Biblical Counseling Conference in Lafayette, IN. Our children were 7, 9, 12 and 14 years old. “Yeah, like that’s going to happen,” I thought, but my husband offered to hold down the fort and I went.
After attending a couple more years, I found myself waist-deep counseling women with bi-polar tendencies, anxiety, depression and cutting. “I need help,” I told my husband, David. “The Bible has answers, but I don’t know what they are.”
We both saw God working and providing unusual opportunities. After praying and looking, I applied to Faith Bible Seminary’s Master of Biblical Counseling program. Women came and went. I read, studied God’s Word, and asked lots of questions.
We’re all counselors; every one of us—Christian or not. We give advice about the weather, sports, child-rearing, job performance—even God. Paul Tripp, in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, calls us to be equipped: people in need of change helping people in need of change. For that reason, biblical counseling is a ministry of the local church. Most of the people who came for help came from or through their church, but I knew people in our community who were hurting that would not be reached through fundamental churches. Was there a way to help, evangelize, and prove a level competency?
The answer, for me, was certification. Although I chose the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), it’s not the only certifying agent. Through a webpage at the Biblical Counseling Coalition, you can find links for the ABC, CCEF, IABC and ACBC.
Now that I’m certified I have been asked to help with divorce classes in our local community, there is an opportunity to counsel for universities, and my contact information is available online. Yes, the local church is vital for spiritual growth and change, but Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Certification is another avenue for me to find the lost and direct them to the Savior who loves them, who died and rose again to take their sin penalty so they might have life.
By Sydney Millage