Welcome to this post about the New Hope Christian College’s psychology and counseling program. As the head of the psychology department, I, Mary gross, MSW, LCSW, am honored to share my passion to see the body of Christ properly equipped to minister in the field of mental health. Per my background to serve as department head, adjunct professor, and overseer of counseling classes, I provide the following brief bio: married 46 years, mother of three (sadly grieving the loss of one), grandmother of six, mentor to many. Per academics and experience: Bible Diploma (Multnomah School of the Bible), Associates degree in Early Childhood Education (Pacific Oaks University), BS in Psychology (U of O), Master of Social Work (PSU), and thirty plus years’ experience as a professional counselor working in mental health agencies, psychiatric residential treatment program for youth, and self-employed as a mental health therapist specializing in trauma. In addition, bringing my gifts and talents to serve in the church has always been a priority.
For far too long, mental health needs have been placed solely in the hands of secular physicians and clinicians who often do good work but operate without a biblical base and within a humanistic value system, missing the full power available through God’s redemptive plan. Meanwhile, pastors and lay ministers have been relegated to provide “spiritual guidance”, as though mankind can be dichotomized—You fix my body, you fix my soul, and you (pastor) can fix my spirit. The truth, however, is that we are “one” in body, soul, and spirit, and our whole being is precious and blessed by God. The New Hope counseling program is dedicated to equip responsible pastors, biblically based counselors, and lay ministers to look at the whole person, their roles and relationships, their culture, the context and times in which they live, and the systems within which they must function—while developing an attuned ear to the Holy Spirit’s divine guidance. Truly this is our birthright as believers, to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in bringing light and life to a dark world. The passage Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1 sums this up: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” As ambassadors off Christ, we are commissioned to do the same.
We live in tumultuous times with rapid moral decline, hostility, and deceit running rampant. Truly, “and everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” (Judges 21:5) characterizes modern society. The mental health ramifications of this are strained relationships, broken marriages, lost children, massive addictions, societal chaos and loss of self. Perhaps, like in the days of Esther, the church (that’s us) have been positioned “for such a time as this!” (Esther 4:14). I am dedicated to support the New Hope counseling program in becoming a healing resource, first for ourselves, then the church, and then the world. This program will be built upon a biblical and psychologically researched knowledge base, personal healing, practical skills, and field experience opportunities, all essential elements equipping one to serve in the field of mental health and pastoral counsel. It will focus on building attunement to the Holy Spirit’s voice as the guiding resource in applying Scripture, prayer, counseling methods and skills, to facilitate healing progress. Who wouldn’t want a counselor like that?
The New Hope counseling program is a work in progress, evolving and fine-tuning according to the needs and resources at hand. Students in the pastoral and counseling program have shared that it is already making an incredible difference in their personal lives and in their ministry to others. There is a desperate need for biblically based, skilled mental health counselors and pastors in our churches, schools, prisons, and human service systems. And we, simple followers of Jesus in all walks of life, can equally benefit ourselves and others by learning basic foundations of Christian counsel. So, rise up church and become equipped!
Sincerely, Mary Gross, MSW, LCSW