As a youth pastor I found myself wading into deep water with individuals and families who needed help that my level of experience and education couldn’t provide. People I cared for were struggling with marriage and family issues, addiction, and the consequences of abuse and neglect. It broke my heart, but broken hearts serve a purpose. They awaken us to the call that God has placed on our lives.
At the time the church I was serving as youth pastor at, Living Hope Church, in Olathe, KS we were going through the Purpose Driven Life and 40 Days of Purpose by Rick Warren. For many, myself included, this book and that campaign changed my life. After 40 days of fasting and seeking God’s direction, my wife and I abandoned the course we were on.
I dropped out of seminary and enrolled in a the Master’s of Counseling Program at MidAmerica Nazarene University. For me it was like I had finally found where I belonged. Not only was the education powerful and academically challenging, it helped me to heal and it opened my eyes to my own gifting. I learned powerful lessons on human behavior and life change that serve me every single day as I pastor here at LifePoint.
The call to ministry and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ never left me though. In 2010 LifePoint Church was born and with it the desire to see a Christ centered recovery program and counseling center was born with it. Almost 6 years ago we launched Celebrate Recovery. We have seen hundreds of people come through and find the path to freedom that only Christ can bring. It has been very difficult to maintain at times, but the very best things in life must be fought for to establish, and you have to fight to maintain them as well. I am intensely grateful for all the people who have put in so much work, both paid and volunteer, to make this ministry such a powerful success.
Hurts, habits, and hang ups often bring collateral damage to families, marriages, and friends that require special help to heal. As both a minister and a trained counselor, I know that ultimate healing only comes through Christ, but I believe in the power of medicine and therapy to help people recover from some of the deeper hurts in life. We have amazing therapists, counselors, and social workers in our area, but the reality is that not everyone has access to them.
Often someone with a troubled history has child support, a jail bill, weekly drug testing, lawyer fees, and the other regular bills like rent, groceries, and gas that they have to pay. To make matters worse, often because of their past mistakes, they aren’t able to secure the best paying jobs. How do these people, and others struggling with finances and other life issues, get the help they need? Many times they don’t and the cycles just continue from generation to generation.
This problem has vexed me for years. As Christians dedicated to the call of Christ, there are certain action steps that we need to take regarding the world God has placed us in and called us to. At LifePoint we know that God has placed us here to give glory to God and Love as many people to Jesus as we can before we die, period. For that to happen we need to do more than just talk. We need to do more than simply have good intentions. We need to take action, and we have.
I was thrilled this Sunday to announce a new ministry partnership that LifePoint has entered into with Calming the Storm Counseling, and Agape Junction Counseling Services to help provide the care that people in our community need. The Community Counseling Partnership will provide free and reduced cost counseling, group therapy, and education opportunities to our community starting August 30th. We will utilize Master’s Level therapists under the supervision of our CCP Director Steve Richards LPC, and CCP Partner Therapist Jackie Hoppe LPC. I have been referring to both of these amazing counselors for years and am thrilled to partner with them to help make this a better community. This partnership will provide our people with help, master’s level students with the hours they need to finish their degree and seek licensure, and it gives our supervisors a chance to give back in a meaningful way.
All of the students have to drive a considerable distance to get to Lebanon. In rural America we are used to driving, it’s just part of life in the country. That distance that we often over look is a serious issue and obstacle to the students and therapists whose services we need. To combat those obstacles, LifePoint is stepping up to provide a stipend to cover those costs associated with travel. No one will be getting rich off of what we are going to pay, but it will provide an excellent opportunity to any students who want to see their education and skill make a difference in someone’s life. Our goal is to provide the best possible experience to our students and provisionally licensed therapists, so that we can attract the best people to serve the communities we love.
We are here to make a difference, and every effort matters no matter how big or how small. Small differences add up to big changes, and I believe we will see many people find the tools they need to live lives characterized by happiness, hopefulness, and health. This is a long time dream finally coming true, and we have hopes to grow and expand in the future. People need all the help and hope they can get, and this is one way we are moving forward together to provide it.
If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment, please feel free to contact Steph at (417) 650-8990.