This is a simple plea that those of you who God is calling to be biblical counselors consider your counseling as a way of reaching the unreached peoples of the world with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. In Ephesus, Paul said, “A wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). Might biblical counseling be a wide door for some of you into the greatest cause in the world?
I was prompted to write this because of my recent trip to Japan. For three days, Don Carson, Michael Oh and I spoke sequentially and simultaneously in Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo, each of us taking a day in each city. This extraordinary round-robin conference was sponsored by Christ Bible Institute in Nagoya. It was called Love Japan. The bullet trains and the grace of God made it possible.
Gospel Words for Wounded People
It is well-known that Japan has historically not been very responsive to the gospel. The Joshua Project estimates 0.6 percent evangelical out of 127 million people. But the leaders we were with sense fresh winds blowing; and the response to Love Japan was very encouraging.
In talking to Brett Rayl, who is part of the executive leadership team at CBI, the conversation turned to biblical counseling. He said there is virtually nothing of this kind functioning in Japan for the good of the Japanese people. The counseling we are talking about is not for missionaries. It is for the Japanese people.
Brett believes, as do others, that the social dynamics and the growing stresses of family life in Japan (what is left of it), are of such a nature that many desperate and wounded people would turn with thankfulness to a loving and listening person with some competence in helping them cope with the brokenness of their lives.
The Most Satisfying Pathway
Of course, the challenges of such an outreach would be enormous. It would not be for the fainthearted. It would not be a short-term affair. Even in one’s own culture, skill and fruitfulness in biblical counseling require years of serious engagement in real people’s lives. On top of that, one must learn a foreign language—learn it well—and absorb cultural dynamics that would only come with extensive living among national people.
But then, has breaking into the darkness of unreached peoples ever been easy? It has always meant laying down your life so that you may find it again. It has always been a sacrifice, which at the end of decades of God’s faithfulness is found to be the most satisfying pathway to heaven.
Would You Seriously Dream?
I am not an expert in any of this. I am simply a match struck and reaching out to the flammable tinder of hearts with a passion for people’s wholeness in Christ and a passion for the completion of the Great Commission. I am a dream-planter throwing seeds of missionary vision into the hearts of counselors who may have never dreamed that unreached peoples and counseling have anything to do with each other (except that there are broken missionaries).
I pray that for some of you, the flame will ignite and the dream will take root. There are thousands of people groups where there is no rooted gospel witness, and no thriving church. Would you dream seriously about whether your calling to biblical counseling may be a door that God is opening?