The nature of our work has us frequently touching the lives of some amazing people while we’re on the road….people fighting to survive through intense tragedy. (See A Dark Monday Morning) Sometimes, the problems they face are so overwhelming that we don’t know how we should help.
Take for instance, “M”, the girl we first met living in the sewers of Bucharest. How can we help her discover what it is she’s looking for? She tries to soothe her troubled heart with the attention she’s given by the other men on the street. So, how will we respond when she asks why God lets her raise her newborn baby in a “home” that’s only reached by climbing down a manhole? Does God see her?
We’ve both been sharing the pain with those we come in contact with (sometimes it’s someone we’ve scheduled to interview for work, other times they are just people we meet on the bus or ferry, going to our next locations, and a conversation starts “randomly.”)
When we came home from Costa Rica for the summer, a friend mentioned a school in California that was offering a very intensive master’s degree program in counseling, using the Bible as the primary tool to help us uncover what God may be showing us when He sends painful circumstances to disrupt our lives.
This resonated with us, especially because the first 3 years of our marriage were so heavy. We went to 4 different counselors, looking everywhere to find a way to bring peace. But every clever “communication model” and “secret” to a good marriage fell short until we were introduced to Ken and Amy. They used the Bible as the “magnifying glass” to identify the real problems in our marriage and help us see how to change. We were a little intimidated before we met them, but our marriage was causing us so much pain that we thought it would be worth a try!
They helped us get to the root of many of our arguments by seeing what was really going on inside. Many of our problems in marriage couldn’t be fixed with good communication, because no matter how nicely we said what we wanted, the heart of our speech was still selfish and proud.
It is still a battle to look at ourselves and our own motives instead of blaming things on the other person, but we constantly use the principles in the Word of God to get to the heart of the problems.
All that to say, when we found out a university was teaching a master’s course on this type of counseling, we knew this would be incredibly helpful for us in our work.
I called the school just to ask about the program, knowing that we were several months overdue in applying. But after I mentioned to the administrative assistant what kind of work we are doing, she asked if she could call me back. She had gone to the dean of the department and several professors, and they agreed to let us into the program (without having seen our applications!), waiving prerequisites and registration fees, postponing homework assignments, and so many other things, just to get us into two of the classes they were offering 3 weeks from when I called! She told us those classes would be ideal for working in a foreign culture and they are only offered every few years, so they would really like us to get to take them.
So, in a whirlwind of chaos, we found plane tickets to LAX and got to California in time to take these classes. And she was right. They were ideal, showing us about our own lives and our own shortcomings and how that hurts the way we have relationships with others. In some ways, it’s been a brutal path. But we can see good coming from it.
So, unexpectedly, our summer has been filled with papers and tests (because now we have to make us everything that was postponed). We’re loving it, though.
And we’ll continue with this path as we head back to Costa Rica for language school. We’re taking a set of DVDs with us for the Marriage and Family course and hope to open it up to others in our language school who would like to study that with us, because we know how important having a good marriage is and how it can affect every other area of our lives.
Going back to school (backpacks and all!) for intensive classes in July in California.