In 2001 I was invited to get trained in Theophostic Prayer Ministry, which I had never heard of before, but because I respected the pastor who invited me, I attended. My practice would never be the same again. After only a day and a half of video lectures, I came back and started using what I had learned with astounding results. My very first client that Monday was a lady who was a compulsive shopper. In that first session, she found a root lie controlling her behavior, and God spoke His truth to her in a way that she was (either that day or soon thereafter) completely set free from her addiction.
In those days the founder, Dr. Ed Smith, did not teach as he does now, that practicing in a group setting for a whole year is the best way to master the ministry. God just gave me the grace for it to work immediately with me, since there was no group or other peers doing it. I consider that my background in Biblical counseling was a firm foundation, and I continue to teach its principles to this day. TPM does not teach us everything we need to know about how change happens in the soul, but I consider it a major tool that God has given to the Church in these days.
When I moved to Russia in 2007 with my family, I realized that I was not sent to have a counseling practice, but that I was to train others. The need for counseling in Russia is overwhelmingly large, to a great extent due to the national trauma it sustained during the Soviet years of atheism and of state terror. The atrocities of Stalin’s day are very much an undercurrent to the state of the Russian soul today.
In fact, in Trinitarian fashion, I see counseling training as part of a larger framework for discipleship of leaders that God has given me:
- Soul Care: counseling, with a special emphasis on TPM
- Spirit Care: spiritual formation training for lifelong growth in intimacy with Christ
- Body Care: life coaching, which is about effective application of God’s word and call in real life.
I have other materials that I use in each area which I can share with those interested. The point is that I consider personal transformation to be dependent on how well we master each area. One is not sufficient. So my ministry in Russia at this stage is about empowering leaders in all three, because I am of the conviction that an exponential effect will result in them personally as well as in their circles of influence.
The heart of my work in all of this is a desire to see Russia overcome its “orphan spirit” and come to know God as Father. Therefore, I and my family have a significant ministry to orphans, particularly older ones graduated from the state system, and to ministries and leaders that serve orphans.
So now to the history and development of Theophostic Ministry in Russia. Even though TPM began in 1995 and exploded around the world, it is a baby in Russia.
When Dana Evans and other leaders in their church-plant in Ekaterinburg, Russia heard about TPM in 2006, they immediately felt it was an answer to prayer as an instrument in helping the Russian people deal with life’s hurts. They began to study, and a team was soon formed to train facilitators for ministry. As the training continued, the need became evident to have the materials in the Russian language. Dana Evans and Douglas Davis contacted Dr. Ed Smith (founder) about this need, and he gave permission for the translations, which began in 2009.
I learned of the team in Ekaterinburg early after moving to Russia. As soon as the DVD’s of the basic training were ready, I started my first group of trainees in the summer of 2010. Now after over a year of training and practice with each other, some of the original group are now helping me lead two new groups of trainees. These two groups include Christian psychologists and many volunteers from a well-known Christian prayer hot-line.
After a lot of volunteer help as well as donations for translating and editing, we are done with that phase of the project. Formatting and printing the book will cost $3,500, with about $900 left needed to complete the project. Many TPM trainees are waiting to get a copy of this book in their language in order to be more effective in this ministry.
How do we know that God has His hand on this project? I put out one notice when I started training last year, and everything has been word of mouth since. Since the training is about more than just knowledge, all students must receive and learn to give ministry to each other. I am constantly amazed at the power of God to change hearts, behavior patters, emotions, and heal relationships as a result of one encounter. Two recent examples:
Ludmilla had been attending sessions for several weeks when she offered to let me lead her in a session as a demonstration for the class. The pain that came out in that one hour was intense, and it was clear she had a life time of pain, abuse, broken relationships, and sin. She was not ready to face the real lies at the bottom that first day, but God gave a small measure of comfort and grace to come back a second time. That next week she discovered one such lie that controlled her – that she had to control others’ reactions to her. God opened her eyes (for it’s not only head knowledge that counts, but experiential knowledge that reaches the heart that does), and she radiated with joy at seeing how she had been deceived for so long. Not only did she start relating to others better, others have reported that she has a joy that that had never seen her have before. And a curious side-effect: a chronic sub-normal body temperature has now been healed.
The second example is not one I conducted. In fact I was even there and don’t even know what the story was. I had to be gone from class recently to attend something else, but since I had two others whom I could count on to lead it (from my first group), I didn’t mind. It’s hard to relate the satisfaction it was for me to walk in at the end of class to see hugs and tears of joy at experiencing the Father’s love and gift of Truth. I found out later that this woman appears to have had her diabetes healed at that moment, as her blood sugar is at a normal level for the first time in years. (I’m not an expert here, but she said that the rule is that if your blood sugar is normal for three weeks in a row, that is the confirmation.) The miracles never cease to amaze me.
Students now stay late after class (which itself lasts 2.5 hours) for another hour for tea and conversation. They are bonding, they are passionately engaging the material, and they are so excited about what they are experiencing and witnessing that they can’t stop telling their friends. Everyone wants to know when the next group is.
If you are interested in giving, then the best way is to click here and make a note in the comment section that it is for the TPM translation project. We are hoping to go to print this month.