FBS Interviews Sydney Millage on Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse
Sydney Millage is a 2018 graduate of the MA in Biblical Counseling (MABC) at Faith Bible Seminary (FBS). As Sydney explains in today’s interview, at FBS we not only train counselors—we train men and women who will train others also. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Because of Sydney’s leadership in biblical counseling, especially in the area of domestic abuse, our FBS team reached out to Sydney to interview her—and to further equip each of us in how the church can minister in domestic abuse situations.
FBS Staff: “Sydney, what motivated you to write Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse?”
Sydney Millage: “When I was looking for a topic for the final MABC project my husband encouraged me to study something challenging current counselees. A repeated theme was responding biblically when sinned against, especially by one’s husband. Since that topic was too broad, Dr. Rob Green, Chair of the MABC, suggested studying a victim’s response to physical domestic violence. As I researched and wrote, my advisor, Sue Nicewander, reminded me that these women are often invisible, needy, and oppressed both outside and inside the church. After completing my final project, I sent a query to Focus Publishing. They expressed interest and a desire to complete a book for the ACBC conference in Ft. Worth, TX in October. 2018.”
FBS Staff: “Sydney, could you summarize and capture the essence of Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse?”
Sydney Millage: “Here’s how my publisher and I have sought to introduce Sanctuary.”
“Do you struggle to understand where God is in domestic abuse? Do you wonder how to respond with intention and purpose? You are not alone. God knows everything about your life, relationships, thoughts, and desires. Sanctuary offers hope through the stories of other women and the truth of Scripture, providing solid footing—a place of quiet rest for your soul—in the midst and aftermath of domestic abuse. You will discover that Jesus is big enough to bear your pain, confusion, and anger as well as the wrongs of the person sinning against you. Perhaps you’ve asked, ‘Is there hope for freedom and healing? How do I seek help?’ Or, most importantly, ‘Where is Jesus when I’m suffering?’ Sanctuary provides answers, applying the power of the cross to your heart and abuse with tools to help you respond and reach out biblically. If you are a pastor, friend, or family member who doesn’t understand the dynamics of abuse and what the Bible has to say to its victims, this book is also for you.”
FBS Staff: “Sydney, are there some endorsements for your book that we could share with our readers?”
Sydney Millage: “That’s very kind of you to ask. Here are two that were so encouraging.”
“Domestic abuse may be the most misunderstood and mismanaged issue within the church today. Sydney Millage seeks to remedy that reality with a work that is theologically sound, highly practical, and counseling-room tested. I believe this book will serve biblical counseling well as an introduction for caring for victims” (Chris Moles).
“I am excited to recommend highly Sydney Millage’s work on domestic abuse. As I was reading, I continually thought of past and present counseling cases in which this resource would be helpful. Sydney’s guidance to God’s people on domestic abuse is genuinely relatable, extremely practical, theologically robust, and truly transforming. Sydney has provided comprehensive hope and help for victims of domestic abuse, counselors, friends who come alongside them, and churches striving to shepherd members righteously and compassionately” (Dr. Brent Aucoin).
FBS Staff: “How did your training in the MABC at FBS equip you to minister in the area the book covers?”
Sydney Millage: “Most, if not all, the classes at Faith Bible Seminary equipped me to write this book. Amy Baker’s teaching on abuse, Garrett Higbee’s information on domestic violence, and Stuart Scott’s class on marriage were particularly helpful in providing biblical truth and principles for helping abuse victims. Rob Green’s Bible classes gave me tools to apply the Word of God to the dynamics of abuse. Brent Aucoin’s assignments allowed me to creatively apply methods of biblical change in counseling situations. Mark Shaw and his resources on addictions and enabling behaviors were helpful as the class dovetailed with an abuse/addiction case I was counseling at that time. The materials presented in every class provided a rich base of information, practical help, and tools to apply the gospel of Jesus Christ to this vital issue.”
FBS Staff: “What were two or three of the most significant experiences you had at FBS/MABC? Or, what were two or three of the most important truths you learned about Christian living and biblical counseling via the MABC at FBS?”
Sydney Millage: “The most terrifying was the anticipation of sharing my personal growth, challenges, and struggles with professors and classmates. However, I learned how to glorify God through weakness and failure; confessing and putting off pride, replacing it with humility and Christlikeness. Spiritual transparency is important in counseling and vital to spiritual growth. Faculty and students were, in every case, kind, encouraging and prayerful. Evening meals in faculty homes during modules were precious times outside class to get to know one another, see our professors in a different light, meet families, and enjoy a delicious meal. Although online learning was convenient and effective, attending modules was a definite highlight. After online discussions, meeting that first day was a wonderful reunion—or introduction! I can read and pursue learning on my own, but I miss seeing dear friends, enjoying fellowship, catching up on family and ministry, and discussing topics with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and Christ-centered focus.”
FBS Staff: “In addition to writing the book, what other ways are you using your MABC in your life and ministry?”
Sydney Millage: “My husband and I are active in local church leadership and youth ministry. I provide counseling for women in our church, a local counseling ministry, and via Skype. I am a core member of the Eastern Iowa Biblical Counseling Coalition, providing training and resources to pastors and counselors in our area. What I learned at FBS affects the way I think about life—how I read my Bible, pray, listen to Christian radio, interact with others and hear their heart through their stories, guide our children, and love my husband.”
FBS Staff: “Why should other students consider enrolling in the MABC at FBS?”
Sydney Millage: “If/when the Lord provides, it is an effective and challenging tool of equipping that works in tandem with local church involvement. When we began, my husband, David, and I had a college-aged son and three teens at home. Now three of our children are grown or in college; we have a teenager, and an aging parent at home. The format and opportunities provided by FBS made it possible to complete coursework not just in addition to, but as part of, my other commitments. The Lord Himself provided motivation and encouragement through His Word, Spirit, and people along with the ability to press on.”
FBS Staff: “What are some of the unique strengths of the MABC at FBS?”
Sydney Millage: “An obvious strength is interaction with seasoned biblical counselors—both instructors and fellow students—who share expertise and knowledge in counseling as well as personal growth. FBS provides accessibility to believers worldwide. As a student, I enjoyed fellowship and learning with individuals from the Dominican Republic, Australia, Romania, and South Africa in addition to a wide-range of people from the continental United States. Also, because each professor teaches his or her specialty, FBS offers a unique blend of classes by qualified professors from a number of other seminaries and local churches, in addition to those from Faith Bible Seminary and Faith Church itself.”
FBS Staff: “Thank you, Sydney, for your faithful ministry in biblical counseling and in equipping others to minister in the difficult area of domestic abuse.” For those interested in ordering a copy of Sanctuary: Hope and Help for Victims of Domestic Abuse you can visit the Focus Publishing site here.”
Be Equipped: Faith Bible Seminary’s MABC enrollment period for the Winter semester is now active. Please contact us if you are considering training that can equip you for further ministry like Sydney Millage.