Jan 10, 2011

Mentoring and Healing of the Inner Man

We asked Don and Ruth to share a bit about Kingdom Encounters year 4: Mentoring and Healing of the Inner Man which is material they have developed and worked with for many years. Enjoy!


What lies behind this training? The development of this course grew out of our personal history. It began with facing a lot of inner pain and a personal cry to find healing in our own lives. Through a long and painful process, the Lord Himself led us by the Word and Spirit to face our own sins and to forgive the sins of those who had hurt us. He told us, through the scriptures, that he would redeem our pain by comforting others with the same comfort that we ourselves had received from God (II Cor: 1:3, 4). And He has. As we found some freedom and healing for ourselves, we began to share with others what we have discovered in Christ.

It was in the late 70's and early 80's when we our church went through renewal that God began bringing to us scores of young adults who were addicted and relationally dysfunctional. It became apparent that the wounds of the wounded would soon overwhelm us and bring wounding and dysfunction to the rest of the church! Out of desperation, we began to cry out to the Lord to help us bring healing and restoration to the broken in a consistent and intelligent way. He proved faithful to answer those cries.

The first part of the answer came through an electrician whom we had hired to upgrade the lighting fixtures in our church’s worship space. Over a period of three days, he recounted how he had taken his severely depressed and totally dysfunctional mate to a counselling centre in Denver, Colorado. He reported that she not only made a full recovery, but that she was 200% better than she had ever been! When we asked for more information, he lent us a book that led us into the work of Dr. Charles R. Solomon and his Exchanged Life seminars. These teachings, which were brilliant diagrammatic illustrations of the insights of Watchman Nee, focused primarily on issues of the lies of rejection which are broken by the liberating revelation and power of our true identity in Jesus Christ. God had already used the teachings of Watchman Nee to open our eyes to many biblical truth, but Solomon’s illustrations provided a way to effectively communicate those insights to others. “If you can see it, you can understand it.”

As we began to share these insights with our counsellees, we saw people make great strides towards wholeness, but then they would either plateau or regress. We sensed something was still missing and that we needed more help, so we cried to the Lord once again. Within a few months, he brought us into relationship with John Sandford of Elijah House ministries. Their teaching fit like a hand in a glove with what we were already doing, and we began to apply these further insights in our counselling ministry. Once again, we saw people who were stuck at a primary level of healing make new and dramatic breakthroughs! This phase of the ministry focused primarily on father and mother wounds and the bitter root judgments and vows that arise from those relationships. As we led people in forgiving parents, renouncing judgments and vows, and confessing personal sin, deep and significant healing came to nearly everyone with whom we prayed. This included people suffering from severe depression, dysfunctional relationships, fear and shame-based personalities, acute gender identity confusion, performance orientation, various patterns of addiction, and the like.

After several years of gaining experience in the counselling office, we got some vision for equipping others to do what we were doing. Over a period of about 10 years, with the addition of our own experience and insights, we developed the current set of training materials, including lectures, diagrams, history forms, and audio recordings that our students could use to begin applying this healing ministry to others. We have offered the training in about 45 hours of class time held over three weekends in November, January, and March. All of the training materials are now freely available online at no cost to the student.

Although not all who have taken the course have gone on to counsel others in the same way we have, all of the graduates share a solid, biblical understanding of what spiritual freedom and maturity looks like and it has produced a culture of discipleship and healing within our church community. You can’t put a price on that! It has had a profound effect, not only on how our students pray for the sick during ministry times, but also on the effectiveness of their prayers.

Don and Ruth Rousu, Harvest Vineyard, Edmonton


  1. I'd like to know what connection this has to approved (physciatric and psychological) methods of counselling. Some of these issues, particularly in dealing with addictions and events from childhood, are serious and need to be handled very carefully.

    Furthermore, the kind of issues being addressed are not referred to by recognized terminology. What is meant by "fear and shame-based personalities, acute gender identity confusion, [and] performance orientation"?

    As helpful as counselling can be, and as much as spiritual guidance can help the healing process, we should be wary of any counselling not done by licensed and officially trained professionals or by methods not tested and approved by the appropriate experts.

  2. Actually there is good precedence for community based, non-professional counseling. I'm thinking of Crabb's work in say Connecting. I'll let Don handle your specific question about terminology - he knows this material better than I - but if I'm reading his heart right (and Don is one of the wiser folks I know) he and Ruth want to create a community that is committed to healing and wholeness. However, I think that with all programmes of this nature it is good to have open conversations about content and how it functions (or doesn't function) in community. Maybe we can also identify other programmes, with similar goals about equipping the community, in the Vineyard (or beyond) that are also worth paying attention to.

  3. I guess it's the use of the word "counselling". It can often imply "therapy" and can be misleading when used to refer to non-professionals.

    A quick look at Crabb's Connecting, and I don't see "counselling" being used. At a minimum, it isn't the main description.

    We need to make a distinction, then, between things that happen in community and things that happen privately (between counsellor and counsellee). A community approach is more appropriately described as a support group (like the AA 12-step program) which is less diagnostic/prescriptive. In a counselling (private) setting, there is a vulnerability and trust that could easily assume a certain expertise on behalf of the counsellor that isn't expected, or required, of a moderator of a support group. The latter can be done mainly from personal experience, the former cannot. A support group can also be more easily monitored by others, making the training of moderators easier to do by practice.

    My understanding of this course is that it aims to train people to counsel others in a private, one-on-one environment, with a diagnostic/prescriptive method, without requiring any specific qualifications.

  4. Actually I think you are right that there is quite a bit of diagnostic and prescriptive material there. But that also is not without precedent within Christianity - the anam chara tradition (Soul Friends) was one such relationship. There is possibility for problems no matter how you approach it - probably even more so if the person who is professional screws up. But I think your cautions are well placed and your insight that the terminology must be more careful is something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

    I'm keen to see what Don says in response.


  5. Hello Christine,

    I appreciate your concern that any healing process be just that, healing, not harmful. But it appears to me that your concern has to do with "approved" methods of counselling. My question is "approved" by whom? By humanistic practioners, or by Jesus and His ancient church? Frankly, I only want to do what is pleasing in the sight of God, and if for some reason, man also approves, all the better!

    The "methods" we use are primarily those of confession, forgiveness, and renunciation, all terms which are biblical in origin and well understood in the community of believers. If some of our terms do not conform to the parameters of the social "sciences" (I use that term loosely), it is because we think there are more accurate ways to describe what we observe. Terms, in themselves, are not absolute, because language itself is dynamic and fluid. We are constantly in the process of updating our language.

    But back to the issue of approval. Who decides who is qualified and who is not? I guess I am the ultimate pragmatist. People came to us and found help, healing, and freedom, and then refered their friends. Soon there was such a demand that we had to turn many away. It then became clear to us that we needed to obey Jesus and "make disciples", i.e., devise a way to equip others to do what we were doing. We mentored people into a level of maturity, and some became very effective. Others took our course only for information, and many became aware of needs in their own lives and sought personal healing for themselves.

    I understand your concern with finding some safeguards to ensure quality control. But who will do the judging? Did you know that Harvard University has never been "accredited" by any government institution? But Harvard's graduates accredit their alma mater by sending their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. The word accredit, from the Latin, simply means that someone believes in you and puts their trust in you!

    In similar manner, the Church is not accredited by Caesar. The Church looks for her accreditation from Jesus, the Lord of the church, and from those who benefit from her ministry. Let God be the judge. We stand before Him with a clear conscience, and we are eager to receive correction from Him and the Body of Christ.

  6. Hi Don,

    Thanks for your honest answer. I appreciate you being up front with the fact that you are not using methods or techniques that are recognized within the mental health fields and that you are even skeptical of the validity of these fields themselves.

    In this case, I would not call it a matter of "judging" but of being consistent with tested, tried, and true practices that have been developed through much research and experimentation. (Whether originating from the softer sciences or the medical profession, these disciplines have often gone through much pains to verify their work.) That is the ultimate in pragmatic.

    In particular, this applies to the material in the course covering things like childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and, most especially, mental illnesses such as severe depression and dissociative disorders. In these cases, the course material goes beyond the Biblical concepts of confession and forgiveness into decidedly medical and psychological terminology and known phychiatric conditions. It also makes an attempt to diagnose problems, not just trying to heal but to establish a causal link between past experiences and present mental illness in an analytical (that is, natural), rather than devinely inspired fashion.

    Why would we not recognize the expertise of professionals in the mental health fields? To say that such specialization is unnecessary is no different than saying that a medical degree is unnecessary to preform brain surgery or a civil enginneering degree to design a bridge - because we have Jesus to guide us. While I believe that Jesus does guide us, I also don't believe in a God who despises our efforts to gain knowledge, nor would I let just any Christian operate on me or build my house.

    I also find it hard to understand how one can be simultaneously skeptical of "humanistic practitioners" and still use material so clearly influenced by Freud. (The authors you refer to above are familiar with psychology and are critized by other "Christian counsellors" for being too humanistic.) The tri-une analysis parralels well the id/ego/superego and many of the causal links in the material are similarly Freudian. In fact, the material seems to include much outdated (and now largely defunct) psychoanalysis imbedded in it.

    Counselling (both Christian and professional) I can agree with. However, your approach seems to try and merge the two, using psychological concepts without any psychological training or qualifications. If it did stick solely to the Bible, I could be all for it.


  7. FYI: The myth that Harvard is not accredited has been around for a long time (and probably used by many preachers/speakers who wish to devalue accreditation) but like other myths, though they may have been around for seemingly forever, it is still just a myth. Harvard is and has been accredited since 1929 by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which is the governing board to handle accreditation for the geographical region in which Harvard resides. Accreditation of schools and colleges in the US is done by non-governmental non-profit organizations which represent different geographical regions within the country. It is still recognized governmental accreditation as the government approves the regional organizations that oversee the accreditation. That's just the way they do it in the US.

    Sorry for my interuption, but I hate to see ridiculous myths perpetuated...

  8. Thanks for the info. I kinda passed that aspect by, because it seemed too unlikely to be true. Just on the basis that people can only practice certain professions legally (like medicine, for example) with a degree from a recognized (i.e.: officially accredited) institution. So unlikely that even Harvard grads would be allowed to circumvent the law in such a manner.

    In any case, if it wasn't accredited, it would hardly be people sending their children and grandchildren that would make up the difference (there are many unaccredited institutions, many likely with generational attendence, that wouldn't be given the time of day) - it would be the standards to which the university adheres, the quality of the research (peer-reviewed) conducted there, the expert professors, etc., etc. It would be because they did everything required for accreditation, and did it so very well. In fact, if it wasn't accredited, it would be the exception that proves the rule, as only such a reputable and well-tested institution could ever gain that type of credibility without some sort of legal recognition. (Whatever the definition of the Latin root, "accredit" has a specific English language meaning, and for good reason.)

    In any case, they are accredited, so it really deosn't matter much. Thanks again for clearing that up.


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