“What’s Your Next Step?” Equipped to Counsel

Every year during the second week of February, two ministries birthed out of Faith Church come together as 100s of students and alumni of Faith Bible Seminary join with 2,000 attendees at the annual Faith Biblical Counseling Training Conference (BCTC).

We knew you’d enjoy hearing from two of those students—the husband-wife team of Doug and Sue Bell—who are each finishing their FBS MABC and are also attending, once again, the Faith BCTC.

FBS: “Sue, what first motivated you to consider applying for FBS’ MA in Biblical Counseling?”

Sue Bell (SB): “I wanted to grow in the ability and skills of confidently bringing Christ into the center of everyone’s life, circumstances, and failures. I was seeking a program where we would be taught that God and God’s Word are alone sufficient.” 

FBS: “Doug, what first motivated you to consider applying for FBS’ MA in Biblical Counseling?”

Doug Bell (DB): “After attending our first BCTC conference several years ago, I was so excited about all that I had learned that I wanted to begin applying everything, but also recognized that I had so much more to learn. Sue and I kept asking ourselves ‘What’s the next step the Lord would have us take?’ We signed up for the 11-week Monday training at Faith, even though we live 6 hours away. For 11 weeks we would travel 6 hours to Faith on Sunday after church, spend a half-day in the class room on Monday, and the other half of the day observing actual counseling sessions. We would head back home on Tuesday morning while we de-briefed with each other as we drove. We’ve been married 37 years, and those discussions are some of the most special and memorable we’ve had. On our last ride back home, pondering the question ‘what is our next step?’ I remembering asking Sue, ‘what would you think about enrolling in the MABC program?’  She enthusiastically said yes, neither of us having any idea of what we were getting into, but both having a desire to be used by our Lord in the greatest way possible.” 

FBS: “As a husband-wife team, what has it been like for the two of you to take the MABC together? What are some of the benefits of doing this together? Some of the joys?”

SB: “It has matured us emotionally and spiritually. We’ve learned and challenged each other. I hope I’ve grown in humility as I’ve realized I might actually not know everything and I’m not always right! Doug is such a humble student of the Word and perseveres with his assignments. I’m so proud of him! Had I not been in it right beside him, I might have become ‘jealous’ or weary of all the schoolwork! We kept each other on task, read each other’s papers, and edited and critiqued one another along the way!” 

DB: “It has been the ‘crown jewel’ in our marriage—that might sound a little over-dramatic, but it’s true! We have had the richest, deepest, most soul-probing discussions along the way. At time there have been tears, mutual encouragement, joy, frustration, and lots of laughter. It really is hard for me to put into words, and I am so thankful that God has allowed us the joy of having this journey together. It has been especially helpful that when one of us was discouraged, God used the other person as a source of encouragement. It is also helpful that we have been able to ‘push’ one another to stay on track, help each other to meet deadlines and work together to finish homework.” 

FBS: “Doug, what is the nature of your ministry at your church? Tell us some of the most significant ways that the MABC has impacted your life and ministry?”

DB: “The MABC has completely changed my life and ministry. I currently serve as an Elder in our church and now oversee our biblical counseling ministry. We are planning to formally launch our biblical counseling ministry to our community in 2020 (currently our counseling is primarily focused on those within our church). We desire to duplicate much of what Faith has done in Lafayette, biblical counseling wise. We are in the process of training new counselors and putting infrastructure together to see this vision become a reality, God willing, this year. This would not be possible without the equipping Sue and I have received from the MABC program. Personally, I have grown in my spiritual life like never before during my time in the MABC program. I have learned much about myself, my heart, my sin, and my Savior. There is a huge part of me that hates to see my time in the program coming to an end.” 

FBS: “Sue, what is the nature of your ministry at your church. Tell us some of the most significant ways that the MABC has impacted your life and ministry?”

SB: “My main area of ministry is discipleship of and counseling women. The MABC has impacted my life by teaching me to self-counsel from the Word. Examining my own fruit-to-root has been revealing and life-altering. I would also say that my biggest area of growth is learning better what it means to suffer compassionately and patiently with fellow Christians—what it means to incarnate Christ to others.”  

FBS: “You’re attending the 2020 Faith Biblical Counseling Training Conference together. How does the BCTC supplement the training you’re receiving in the MABC?”

SB: “First of all, we all need reminders! But when we listen to a speaker, we are always encouraged as we hear again how God’s Word speaks to our specific counselee’s heart issue back home.  It’s empowering to sit under focused teaching and absorb. Then Doug and I discuss how we can apply what we learn, where we need to grow, for example.” 

DB: “During our time in the MABC program, we have been challenged to continually grow in our ability to rightly handle God’s Word both in our own lives and in our counseling ministry. The BCTC not only reinforces what we have learned in the MABC, but it addresses new topics and issues that we increasing see in the counseling room today that may not have been present a few years ago. The BCTC also provides an opportunity to connect with many who we have built life-long relationships with as a result of being in the MABC program.”

FBS: “You’re bringing other members from your church to the BCTC. How does the BCTC impact those members who attend? How does the BCTC impact your church ministry?”

SB: “We’re excited that 14 other people are coming, all at their own cost and without much ‘promotion’ on our part! We hope they have a fire ignited in them to grow in their knowledge of God’s sufficient Word and desire to care for others by growing in their counseling skills.” 

DB: “We encourage all of our small group leaders to attend as well as anyone who wants to grow in Christlikeness and their ability to pour into others. This year we have 16 people attending (including Sue and I) at their own cost. The ripple effect from our people attending is significant. We now have an increased pool of people to use as advocates in counseling and we encourage them to receive further training and to consider becoming certified. The BCTC plays an integral part in helping us raise up more counselors for God’s glory and the benefit of our counseling ministry. At the very least, those that attend are better small group leaders, small group attenders, and followers of Christ.” 

FBS: “Final question: Why should others consider enrolling in FBS’ MABC?”

SB: “Because of the immeasurable value of learning, amazing mentors/professors, encouragement of growing friendships, insight, and guidance. It’s been much more than I ever thought it would be. I love to learn, but this has been about growth in my love for God. I stand amazed and grateful.” 

DB: “If you desire to be used to the greatest extent possible as a biblical counselor or in a biblical counseling ministry, I believe there is no better program. The professors at FBS are among the ‘who’s who’ in the biblical counseling world, you develop life-long relationships with both your professors and fellow students, and FBS strives to make it affordable. I truly hate to see my training at FBS come to an end.”

FBS: “Thank you so much, Doug and Sue, for your ministry for Christ through biblical counseling. For others who would like to learn more about Faith Bible Seminary’s MABC, visit our site, or call (765-448-1986), or email us (seminary@faithlafayette.org).”

Bob Kellemen
Bob Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D.: Dr. Kellemen is VP of Strategic Development and Academic Dean at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, Indiana. Bob is also the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries through which he speaks, writes, and consults on biblical counseling and Christian living. Dr. Kellemen served as the founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. For seventeen years, Bob was the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. Bob has pastored four churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for thirty-eight years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and three granddaughters. Dr. Kellemen is the author of eighteen books including Equipping Counselors for Your Church, Gospel-Centered Counseling, and Gospel Conversations.