What do bickering and the local church have in common?
As the human race, we know conflict intimately. Overwhelming, painful conflict. We know it so personally and spiritually that our emotions can be affected, even to the point that our physical health is altered.
We know conflict globally. We see it on the news on TV and on the big screen as entertainment.
Conflict cannot be avoided indefinitely because ultimately conflict wages a war inside each and every one of us (James 4:13).
Yet, for those of us whom are called to be Jesus’ followers, we alone have been given a secret “weapon” to dramatically display the redemptive purpose of all conflict.
Dr. Baker teaches the School of Mediation where we began learning mediation practices.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:18-21 Krista and I have happily (on most days) dedicated ourselves to this “ministry and message” (see the above Bible reference) and are committed to constantly learning how to do this more effectively for the glory of God and the good of humankind, especially the Bride of Christ, His church.
To that end, we began a series of steps this year that will lead to a counseling certification in mediation and reconciliation.
It's always a bonus when the authors of the books we use come to teach them to us! We were challenged by Dr. Ernie Baker and Dr. Robert Jones to carefully stay committed to real reconciliation in complicated counseling cases and not to rush to bring two parties together before they are ready. (By the way, if you haven't read it, get this book!)
We have completed the first part of the conflict mediation training with a course in the US. We could not have done this (travel, class fees, books, etc.) apart from the generous contribution of many of you who have supported us.
The next step is more study, exams and supervised practice leading believers (particularly conflict between churches, pastors, and church members) through situations that need mediation in order to be reconciled.
We're so blessed by you and we don't say that lightly. You are often in our prayers and we thank God for you.
Thank you for trekking with us as we seek to equip ourselves for the work God has put before us.
Much grace, Joel and Krista