Luke 24:13-33 tells us what happened a few days after Jesus died, was buried and resurrected. The disciples were adjusting to life without Jesus: hopes dashed and promises broken. As the two men were walking down the road of Emmaus sharing their disappointment with each other, Jesus drew near and walked with them. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” At the end of the discourse, we saw Jesus not only had the ability to listen and understand but also to get into the disciples’ heart.
Proverbs 20:5, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”
Through small group ministries, we can provide a safe environment for the participants to share their stories without fear or condemnation. From our experiences, two of the most common and devastating wounds are shame and rejection.
The people whom we counsel should also understand that beneath the surface of most problems, broken relationships, addictions, habitual sins (anger, fears, anxieties) and many other kinds of ‘bad fruits’, are bitter roots. Bitter roots can defile others. Hebrews 12:15(NAS) says, ‘See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
We should emphasize on three main ingredients that bring sanctification:
- Confession: bringing to the light what has been hidden.
- Repentance: resulting in godly grief and transformation of heart.
- Forgiveness: releasing to God those who have sinned against us as well as asking God to forgive us of our own sin(s).
Testimony from a EH student
“I shared with my mother what I had learned from being counselled about bitter-root judgements and bitter-root expectations after I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit. She was immediately receptive to the teaching. After speaking to her over the phone, she left for Church. At the railway crossing, she had to stop for the train to clear. While waiting, she became overwhelmed by God's love and started forgiving her own mother, her sisters and all the women in her life that had hurt her in the past. Then she went on to confess all her sinful responses and judgements. She really experienced a massive breakthrough on issues that had plagued her for more than 50 years! And it all happened in the car on the way to church! When she arrived at church, God asked her to gather all the women in the church and confessed to them the hardness of her heart. She approached the pastor about it and he immediately gathered all the women at the front so they could pray for my mom (I'm guessing about 20-25 women came forward). Once she started confessing to them, they all broke down and started confessing and asking forgiveness as well! They had a mini-revival right there and then”.
True healing requires us to recognize that many of today's problems have their roots in our sinful responses to past wounds and how we too have defiled others. But sometimes people tend to tell stories from their perception. Often they are so wounded that they are not able to see beyond their own hurts. Sharing one's story builds the kind of trust that enables a person to deal with bitterness in the heart. When bitterness is dealt with, the wounded person will be able to release forgiveness and be healed.
As Prayer Ministers, we need to be sensitive and not bulldoze our way into their lives when they are not ready. We need to lay aside our own ‘agenda’. Waiting upon God’s timing is of utmost importance.
There were occasions when I felt I was not the right person to help. For example, recently a friend asked for prayer. As she described her problem through the phone, it triggered something in me and my imagination ran wild. I could not be present with her while she was sharing. I was relieved when she finished her story. Though I did not say much, that particular person felt helped because she had someone whom she felt safe to her tell story. She needed that initial outlet.
Another incident was a lady who had received many types of ministry. Finally she was referred to me by people “who thought I could help”. Whenever someone prayed for her, she would start shaking and would even blindly hit anyone nearby. She also had lots of fear and it affected her sleep, being tormented by nightmares. I felt inadequate and thought, ‘What other therapy would she need?’ As I prayed, God impressed upon my heart to zero in on her history of the incidents of shifting houses within the first 18 years of her life. God revealed that there was a specific demonic oppression. After deliverance, the manifestation stopped.
The above testimonies show that walking alongside people does not mean that we have to be an ‘expert’ counselor. Skills are important, but without God's power (word of knowledge and discernment), His love to listen to people’s hearts, there can be no true freedom. As we are faithful to His prompting, we will be able to walk alongside people just as Jesus walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Matthew 25: 35- 40 states, ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in…. I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Rev. Nancy Quay is an ordained Baptist minister who holds a degree in Counselling, majoring in Family Therapy. Nancy has served the Lord faithfully over 30 years and had extensive experience and training in England, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States. Her ministry includes counseling pastors and church leaders. She co-founded Elijah House Malaysia together with Mei Lin to provide a safe place for individuals and students to experience personal healing through prayer counseling. Nancy is a member of the NACC Malaysia Board.
My late professor at the University of Minnesota, Dr. James W. Maddock, conceived of the idea of Modes of Intervention, which I have adapted here. Systems of Interventionis adapted fromGerald Weeks’ Intersystem Model. For a helpful introductory resource to couple’s therapy, consider Weeks and Treat (2001) Couples in Treatment: Techniques and Approaches for Effective Practice, 2nd edition, New York: Brunner-Routledge.