Greetings to Integrity Church! It has been over one year and a half since we gathered with you on Sunday mornings at the City Hotel and Bistro. We miss our fellowship with you and cherish those who have made efforts to touch base with us. We realize that many of you do not know us (Integrity has grown so much in one year and a half) – but we have prayed for you and for your boldness in the proclamation of the Gospel in Greenville.
Please allow us to introduce ourselves to you. Kim and I attended ECU and lived in Greenville for eleven years. We led a college ministry at ECU for seven of those years. We became keenly aware of the need for more Bible teaching churches in the area. I met Ben at the local Starbucks and he shared his desire to plant a new church in Greenville that would focus on expository Christ centered preaching, discipleship and evangelism. Our family began attending Integrity Church in January of 2008. We were privileged to take part in some of the church’s earliest stages. Those were some of the most wonderful and challenging years for us in Greenville. While attending Integrity, with no prompting of my own and with increasing regularity, I was asked to counsel others. Counseling was something that I seemed to be naturally gifted in and thoroughly enjoyed. As I have aged, my awareness to opportunities in counseling others increased as well as my love for it. I became more aware of the lack of trained Biblical Counselors in the Greenville area, even as part of a local church staff. God has opened my eyes to the many difficult and painful issues people are enduring, often in silence.
In November of 2011, I began to imagine what it might look like to have the local Church become the first place people thought of when desiring help in working through things like depression, marital strife, eating disorders, addictions and other issues. I began to ask questions like: Why isn’t the church trying to proclaim that it believes they are THE place to come for help with these and other problems? Why does Psychiatry tend to appear “professional” and the place to get “real” help? Counseling that lacks Jesus, however skillful, is not wise. Counseling is inescapably a moral and theological matter. I like how David Powlison puts it in his book, Speaking Truth In Love: “The Church – as the Bible defines it –provides the ideal and desirable institution to fix what ails us. Soul care and soul cure – sustaining sufferers and transforming sinners – is a vital part of the ministry of the church according to the Bible, however poorly we may be doing the job.” This doesn’t mean that there is no place for Psychiatry, but it does mean that soul care and soul cure needs to be the role of the Church primarily. I fear the Church gave that role away. If, as the Church, we tell people that we have no real answers for depression, anxiety, financial struggles, addictions of all kinds, same sex attraction and a myriad of other relevant and pertinent issues; what are we communicating to our culture? Are we not saying, we have the answers for you concerning eternity, but not when it comes to dealing with life’s challenging issues? I think scripture provides answers to these issues in life. In fact, I think scripture offers the only real, God honoring, and hope filled answer to these issues. If people feel that the Church can only help with the perceived “spiritual” parts of their life but not the “real” elements of their life, then the Church seems only partly relevant to them. I live in a world where I struggle with life. Finances are hard. Parenting is a challenge. I have real fears that impact my life. Sin has real affects on me. Life gets messy. I am thankful that the God of the Bible addresses these things too. Yet, many feel that the Bible offers no real answers to their everyday struggles and challenges. This desire and vision to better aid the Church in this area and to provide hope for hurting people compelled me to seek the Lord. I sought both the council of my wife and the elders of Integrity as to whether or not I should pursue a counseling ministry as well as the Seminary education to be better equipped to perform such a ministry.
They affirmed and confirmed the decision to pursue a ministry in Biblical Counseling. In fact, Ben said he would be willing to communicate his affirmation (and that of the elders of Integrity Church) of our decision and ministry to anyone who inquired. Their council and discernment held significant weight in our decision. In July of 2012, the leadership of Integrity Church sent us out to pursue the needed training in hopes to equip us to provide Christ centered Biblical Counseling to better aid the Church. Integrity put together this video to send us off: http://vimeo.com/45639212. It was a very difficult decision for us to leave our work, our home, and our Integrity Church family.
While in the Wake Forest area I am taking part in an unpaid counseling internship at a local church. This internship allows me to observe and take part in many counseling opportunities. They provide free counseling to anyone who does not belong to a local church. It is a wonderful and purposeful outreach to the community. As I have researched other Biblical Counseling opportunities I really see this internship as unmatched in its ability to prepare me to better impact lost people and the Church with the hope of the Gospel. My hope is that through the training I will receive in seminary and through the hands-on experience of this internship I will be prepared for a lifetime of ministry in Biblical Counseling.
As a couple sent out from Integrity Church, we want to make you aware of our needs should you desire to help. In order for me to take part in the counseling internship and have opportunities to observe and do counseling as well as attend seminary full-time it was necessary for me to raise financial support. We face a financial shortfall of $1,000 in monthly support. This is due to increased health insurance premiums and insufficient monthly support. We must overcome this shortfall in order for me to be able to focus on the internship and on getting the appropriate training in counseling others. I want to be able to complete my training as soon as possible to begin this counseling ministry. I would be grateful for your prayerful consideration in helping with this need. We are praying for 10 families to support us at $100 a month or 20 individuals to support us at $50 a month. Should you like to help us with a one-time special gift or even support us monthly you can contact us directly or make a contribution here.
Kim and I write a quarterly newsletter that what the Lord has been doing in our hearts as well as the hearts of those we have counseled. In one of our recent newsletters we shared a note that was purposefully written to those who support our ministry from a young woman I counseled. It is one of the most encouraging letters I have ever received. Please contact me if you are at all interested in reading some of our recent newsletters or have questions regarding support. We deeply appreciate your commitment to our family and this ministry. We love and miss you all.