By Julie Gancshow
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13–16 (NASB)
How do you decide who to minister to? What are your criteria for those to whom you will reach out a helping hand? Does your church have an open hand toward people who have troubled pasts or are known to be emotionally unstable or undergoing treatment for psychiatric disorders?
Unfortunately, many pastors and church leaders hesitate to embrace those suffering with emotional problems or those labeled as problematic people. It has become accepted to send them to the local secular counselor rather than take an interest in rendering aid to them.
Because there is little to no teaching on this subject, the church people don’t know what to do with these souls either, so they do nothing other than sadly shake their heads and offer to pray.
For the most part, people with emotional problems or psychiatric diagnoses are simply avoided in our churches. It could be because of fear of exposure, as though they think a psychiatric diagnosis or emotional problem is contagious like the flu or a cold. It could be because they are unsure of the stability of such people, or they fear some violent outburst.
I am sorry to say that I have also seen these people discouraged from attending church at all! There are simply some individuals who don’t want that kind of a person in their church. As a result, they are marginalized and pushed out of the very place they need to be to find healing for the soul.
May I challenge you today to look for possible ways to minister to a person who would otherwise be a “hopeless case?” There are many of them out there! They are the people psychology has written off and cast out of the system with nothing more than a prescription for medications. They have been fed diagnosis codes and stripped of hope to ever be considered “normal.”
These people are the most helpless and broken among us, and they are also fertile ground for the hope and help that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. As biblical counselors and disciplers we bring the message of complete sufficiency of the Word of God and the miraculous love of a Savior who heals. God specializes in broken people; in fact, He prefers us that way.
We do not shy away from accepting what would be considered the tough counseling cases, and we believe the love of God and the truth found in His Word can penetrate the most difficult circumstances. It may require that you get a little dirty in the process and maybe even reach out to other organizations and people for help in ministering to this population.
Become the place of refuge for those hurting souls who desire to look at their problems from the Word of God. Ask them if they are interested in seeing what the Bible has to say about their troubles. Many are willing but have not had anyone take an interest in them before.
If you adopt this mindset and begin to reach out of your comfort zone, our church will become known as the place for hurting people to go. We will develop a reputation in the community as caring and compassionate people who live what they believe and are shining lights of hope in a very dark world.
Julie Ganschow is the director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center and a member of FCC.