Introduction by Charlene Henry
The Stephen Minister training course is life changing. It helps change the way a person looks at care giving. Instead of trying to fix a person's problems, Stephen Ministers accept people where they are and encourage them to talk and share their feelings about things that are troubling them; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Here's what two of our team have to say about being Stephen Ministers.
When asked to share how Stephen Ministry has changed me, my first thought was, I am being stretched and growing spiritually.
I'm in a new growth spurt as a long time follower of Jesus who's spent years reading and studying the Word, while prayerfully seeking direction. By putting my faith into action this past year as a Stephen Minister it is proving to be a good fit, like wearing a comfortable pair of shoes.
Fifteen years ago through a series of personal events, God clearly showed me through scriptures his desire for all his children to be free.....Isaiah laid out those desires in chapter 61. "Then Jesus came into the picture as a young boy, stood in the temple and quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 says, 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." When he finished reading he looked up and said, 'this is fulfilled in your hearing.'"
How was it fulfilled? The Holy Spirit anointed Him and gave him guidance and direction to serve. He soon became the good news for the suffering and the afflicted. He was there for the brokenhearted and proclaimed freedom for those held captive and imprisoned in darkness. He brought comfort in times of mourning, and to those grieving. I believe this call is for all of us who profess to be Christians. As a Stephen minister, I have been equipped and have begun to take it much more seriously.
How is it now being fulfilled? Through our relationship with Jesus. When we choose to be a witness to His ways and share the good news with the broken-hearted, and by bringing comfort to those mourning and in the midst of grief.
Along with our journey, we will all go through times of difficulty, but we don't need to go through it alone. We can choose to allow someone to come alongside and receive care through Stephen Ministry. With the Holy Spirit's guidance and encouragement, we can be that reminder of God's love in times of trials and testing.
As a Stephen minister and seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit this ministry of providing one on one care for those in need has been a blessing for me.
Why the name Stephen? He was one of the men chosen in the book of Acts to provide ministry to those in need.
What is a Stephen Minister? Stephen was described as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. In John 14: Jesus replied to the question of His disciple, "Where are you going?" Jesus said, "I go to the Father, and if I go I will send the Holy Spirit" to comfort, help, and lead you into all truth. In a sense, one might say that a Stephen Minister is like the Holy Spirit, as one called alongside to help. Before I share more, let me share a non-example.
Job was in the middle of great suffering when his three friends brought words of judgment, accusation, and self-righteousness. Then, to make matters worse his dear wife said, "Why don't you just curse God and die?" It is evident that these were poor examples of someone who is called alongside to help one in their time of difficulty.
A Stephen Minister is a church layperson who is trained to follow the four points of a caregivers compass. We are not professional counselors or psychiatrists: nor are we enlisted to try and provide remedies. A Stephen Minister has four points on their ministry compass: compassion, faith, trustworthiness, and skilled at listening.
This is how Stephen Ministry has changed my life: For many years I participated in ministry through oratory gifts of teaching, preaching. singing, and trying to fix things that were broken. When my wife, Kristina, and I came to FPC a few years ago, I started praying about how I may get involved. I saw many gifted teachers, an awesome music ministry, and then I read an invitation to join Stephen Ministry. This has changed my life and perception of ministry. The new skill I would learn to develop would be listening to people in need, and just being there to pray, help, and comfort with faith and Christ centered-ness. A life verse for a Stephen Minister could be:
"May the God of peace Himself sanctify you (wholly); and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it." 1 Thess. 5:23, 24