Why Biblical Counseling?

Last month, I received the honor of becoming a certified biblical counselor with The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). This wonderful, biblical, and God-honoring organization has a three-step certification process: (1) Theological training; (2) Completion of Theological and Practical Exam; and (3) 50 Hours of Biblical Counseling Supervision. MichaelACBCHeathLambert

Although certification is not necessary for counseling and discipleship, there is great benefit to the preparation required and adherence to these standards set for biblical counseling.

As we have been preparing for full-time ministry in Fiji, many of you have asked us why we have a particular passion for and emphasis on biblical counseling. Here are three reasons why biblical counseling will have a central role in our ministry in Fiji:

1. Scripture is Sufficient to Help People in Fiji and the South Pacific:
Scripture is Sufficient for All Things Pertaining to Life and Godliness. We believe in God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about change through the understanding and application of Scripture. This conviction leads us to study and apply God’s Word to our lives and in the lives of those we will be ministering to in Fiji.  The problems in the South Pacific Islands are great and range from suffering, depression, and suicide; to debauchery, abuse, and sexual immorality. Fijians, like all people, have problems, but the Bible promises it is sufficient to deal with these problems. Counseling is simply the platform for this biblical help.  As Heath Lambert writes, “The wisdom to confront life’s difficulties is most often communicated in conversations our culture refers to as counseling.”  We are eager to help bring Biblical Counseling to Fiji because we are confident that the Word of God has the solution to their problems.

2. We are Called to Make Disciples:
All Christians are called by God to both proclaim the Gospel and to also help others follow Christ. The format of biblical counseling lends itself to fulfill both these directives.  Evangelism often takes place during interactions as problems of the heart are revealed and addressed. Discipleship occurs as we teach others to repent, trust and obey God, and learn to follow Him. Whether this occurs in informal every day conversations or intensive issue specific discipleship, we end up counseling one another in our relationships.

3. The Heart is What Matters:
There is nothing more important than the condition of one’s heart. The heart is the center of our being. The heart contains your thoughts, beliefs, desires, mind, will, and emotions. By emphasizing biblical counseling in our ministry we are aiming to address the root of problems and sin which all stem from issues of the heart. We want pastors to be trained, lay people to be equipped, and churches to be strengthened and prepared to address the heart of those within the church and the world around them.

It is our desire to serve and love the Fijian people by training and equipping them to rely on Scripture, to evangelize and disciple others, and to forsake sin and love the Lord with all of their heart! We are thankful to God for the ministry partners and preparation He has given us so that we may serve them well!

An Answer to Prayer! – BABY #2

This is an Answer to Prayer!

Jordan and I have been praying for another child! After much prayer and discussion, we decided that it would be wise to try to have another child prior to moving to Fiji if the Lord so willed. Fiji is still a developing country and had a recent outbreak of the Zika virus, so being pregnant in Fiji is a legitimate concern. We talked with our doctors and determined it would be wisest to have a child here if possible, since we don’t know when the outbreak will be fully contained and the virus eradicated from the area we will be living in. Baby2

When Will We Move to Fiji?

The baby is due March 1, 2018 and we will move to Fiji as soon as our doctors give the OK. The Lord has blessed us with a world-renowned OBGYN who is familiar with Fiji and has a history of providing medical care for other missionaries who live around the world. Our original move date of December 2017 will now become Spring 2018!

How is Raising Support?

The Lord has graciously provided over 55% of our monthly support! Although my job as Manager of International Outreach at Joni and Friends is keeping me busy regularly traveling around the world, Jordan and I are visiting churches and hope to raise the remaining 45% for our ministry in Fiji.  Please join us in praying that the Lord would continue to bring vital ministry partners and provide the necessary means for us to begin full time ministry in Fiji!

Our Ministry with Fiji has Already Begun!

Jordan and I are so thankful for what the Lord is doing in Fiji!  We praise the Lord for the spread of the gospel throughout the South Pacific and we can not wait to be there in person! The great need for answers to life’s basic and common problems paired with a hunger for truth and desire to know what God says about these fuel our passion for the ministry in Fiji!

We are currently serving and doing the work of the ministry from the United States. Preparations for the 2018 Fiji Pastor’s Conference with Fiji Bible College are already well underway. We are making arrangements and finalizing details for this national Fijian conference scheduled for June. Our topic for this year is The Family, and we are thrilled to have Rick Holland, Ken Ramey, and Soon Yong Tan as the keynote speakers! We are also preparing the first women’s specific portion of this conference, which will be lead by Kim Holland and Kelli Ramey. We know the Fijian community will be incredibly blessed as they hear biblical truth on this vital subject.

In addition to the conference, we are building vital relationships with organizations across the US that will help provide resources and training materials. Through partnerships with several organizations we have received study Bibles, theology books, and biblical counseling resources for Fiji Bible College and we are currently working on securing funding to provide Logos Bible Software programs to the college and church leadership. The cost to obtain these resources and the remote location of Fiji normally makes these resources inaccessible to Fijian pastors, church members and islanders. It is a joy to be serving remotely and we are eager to be with the Fijian people soon!

Answers to Prayer:

(1) Bibles for Fiji – The Lord provided thousands of dollars of Bibles for the ministry in Fiji! I will be delivering these to Fiji Bible College and the Fiji Bible Churches this Fall!

(2) Individual Ministry Partners – Our team of monthly supporters has been growing! This has allowed us to begin to cover our 1 time sending costs, shipping of resources and materials, and 2018 Fiji Pastor’s Conference expenses.

(3) Partnerships with Organizations – It is a tremendous blessing to have like-minded organizations that want to spread the gospel and equip pastors in Fiji! These recent partnerships have led to significant donations of Bibles, training materials, and resources for outreach and evangelism!

(4) Baby #2 – We thank the Lord that, as Taj said (accompanied by exuberant hand motions) when he first hear the heartbeat in the doctor’s office: “The baby’s heart goes BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!”

Please pray with us for the work the Lord is doing in Fiji as we continue to progress through this wonderful journey!

 

 

Our 10 Year Wedding (& Fiji) Anniversary!

mj-weddingToday, by God’s grace, we are celebrating our 10 Year Wedding Anniversary!  10 years ago, as we prepared to start a life together, we could never have guessed all the Lord had in store for us.  We had no idea that 10 years later we would be preparing to return to Fiji, not for a honeymoon, but to serve and love the people there with the gospel of God’s grace!

Anticipating that the Lord might be calling us as missionaries, we chose Fiji as our honeymoon destination thinking we were likely to never return. Instead, the Lord was planting seeds a decade ago showing us both the needs and growing in us a mutual love for the people of the Fijian islands.  God’s ways are truly amazing!

As we reflect over the past ten years of life spent together, recounting the blessings and trials, we can so clearly trace the hand of God on our lives, family, and marriage.  We have been incredibly blessed to have been involved in churches, friendships, and family relationships that invested in us and our marriage.  Through all of these, the Lord has equipped us to love and serve others and has shown us the true joy and blessing it is to follow His path for our lives. Through changes in jobs, cities, churches, the addition of Taj, and even a few furry friends, God has been at work each moment of each day.

Today, we are reminded that God is the best steward of His children and we are so grateful for the way He has been at work to fashion us through the ordinary and extraordinary moments of our lives this past decade to bring us to a place that we might be of use to the church in Fiji.  We are beyond excited for the next step in this journey for our family.  We acknowledge that there are so many unknowns and there will likely be moments of uncertainty and of being stretched and fashioned in new ways.  Yet, we know that by looking back on the 10 years we have already been blessed with, God will be at work because He is faithful, good, sovereign, and wise.

10 years ago on our wedding program, we wrote Habakkuk 1:5 “Look among the nations and watch, be utterly astounded, for I am doing a work in your day that you would not believe even if it were told to you.”  Contextually wise, this may seem like an odd verse to pick for a wedding as it comes in the setting of God revealing a less than exciting future for Israel, after the prophet Habakkuk is concerned about necessary spiritual reforms for Israel.  However, what is amazing about this, is that it reveals the nearness of God in uncertain times, the wisdom of God even when we can’t comprehend how things may play out, and the faithfulness of God to work out a plan for His people that will truly be for their good and His glory.  What a privilege we have to serve a God that can do this for His people and what a blessing it is to have a marriage that can have its foundation on a God that is so faithful and wise.  We are truly looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us!

The Joys of the Shepherds’ Conference

2017 has been an eventful year.  With travel to Singapore, Japan, Israel, Jordan, and throughout the United States, time seems to have gone by quickly.  This is one of the reasons why I enjoy looking back at the kindness of the Lord over the years.

What is the Shepherds’ Conference

For over a decade, God has used the Shepherds’ Conference in a unique and special way in my life.  The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is, “to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement as together we seek to become more effective servants of our chief Shepherd.”  For me personally, it has accomplished that mission and so much more.

Dad2006 Shepherds’ Conference

My wife, Jordan, is the greatest treasure the Lord has given me apart from the gift of salvation!  During the 2006 Shepherds’ Conference, I had a conversation that would change my life.  Jordan and I had initially met about 5 months earlier and it had become apparent that we were going to be friends for a very long time (or a lifetime, in my assessment).  Jordan’s father just so happened to be serving as a volunteer at the Shepherds’ Conference and this was where I asked him for permission to pursue a relationship with Jordan.  The conversation went well!  This June, Jordan and I will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary!

2015 Shepherds’ Conference

After multiple visits to Fiji, Jordan and I had developed a SC Premendspecific love for the people in the South Pacific.  In 2015, the Lord provided the means for Dr. Narayan Nair and Premend Choy to attend the Shepherds’ Conference.  During this wonderful time, God guided the conversation with these godly men to establish Jordan and my direction to begin to prepare to serve alongside them as missionaries in Fiji!

SC Bryan2016 Shepherds’ Conference

As many of you know, some of the greatest joys at the Shepherds’ Conference occur in seemingly chance meetings with strangers.  A friend of mine saw Jordan and Taj visiting during lunch and decided to introduce me to his friend who is the Director of International Outreach at Joni and Friends.  After spending over an hour talking about biblical counseling and international ministry, the Lord presented me with a new ministry opportunity.  A couple weeks later, I became the new International Church Relations Manager for Joni and Friends where I am currently working as we prepare for Fiji!

2017 Shepherds’ Conference

This year’s Shepherds’ Conference brought so many dear friends together from all over the world!  It was incredible to spend time with my brothers-in-law, outlaws (what we affectionately call extended-extended family), our church family, former classmates, and past/current/& future ministry partners.  In addition to sweet fellowship, the Lord provided additional supporters to come alongside us financially, so we are now at 50% of our monthly need to begin our ministry in Fiji!

These highlights provide just a glimpse of the joy experienced within the context of the Shepherds’ Conference.  It is a wonderful thing to have this reminder of God’s kindness, while looking back at His innumerable blessings and continued faithfulness!

A New Year, A Season of Change

If the Lord wills, this is the beginning of our last year in California before we move to Fiji to become missionaries.  Although we are only one month into 2017, much change has already occurred as we continue down the road to Fiji.

Goodbye to Our Dog Willow
According to our Fijian friends, Willow had the potential to be the first dog of her kind to set foot on the beautiful Fijian islands.  However, through much prayer willowand advice from our respected veterinarian, we decided that Willow would be much happier living a California life than being a missionary pup.  The parents of our dear friends Eric and Esther Lan were willing to become Willow’s new family and this past weekend the Lan family  welcomed Willow into their home.  She is already being spoiled rotten and besides Taj walking around saying her name, it seems like he has not noticed that his favorite snuggling companion is not around anymore.

A New Place to Live
In December, we said goodbye to PAC Properties where we had worked as apartment managers for over 7 years.  We are so thankful for the blessing it was to our family and for the friendships we made.  With this transition we also left our apartment that was our home through so many pivotal years from Michael starting seminary to bringing our son Taj home from the hospital when he was born.

The Lord blessed us with the opportunity to move closer to friends and family and we moved up to Castaic just before the holidays.  Our friends Ryan and Amanda Hobbiebrunken bought a home right across from the Tyson’s (Michael’s sister and her family) and have graciously offered to let us rent a couple rooms of their home as we prepare for this last season stateside.  Michael’s parents were a huge help with our move and drove a moving truck with the bulk of our things back to their home in Texas to eventually be loaded on the shipping container bound for Fiji.

While this has been a big change for our family, we have been enjoying being closer to church, friends and family, and Taj is loving playing with baby Sophie Hobbiebrunken and his cousins across the street!

A Right Hand Drive Jeep
In December, the Lord also blessed us tremendously with a right hand drive Jeep!  We are required to own any vehicle we bring to Fiji for at least 1 year before shipping and it was a huge answer to prayer to find a rural mail truck on the East coast that met the Fijian import requirements!

This season has become one of great transition for our family with both exciting movement toward Fiji and the start of sad goodbyes, but we see the kindness of the Lord each and every day.  We are constantly reminded that we are simply stewards, temporarily borrowing what the Lord gives us.  We praise God for His perfect provision in each and every season!

 

Praise and Thanksgiving

 

As I was preparing my heart for this year’s Thanksgiving Day celebration I came across this wonderful devotional from the book The Valley of Vision  entitled “Praise and Thanksgiving.” I am so thankful for you and hope this will encourage you and direct your heart toward our great LORD! We praise God for who He is, what He has done, and the joy we have in knowing we will one day see Him in all His glory!

img_4231

O MY GOD,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language
to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time
and eternity.

A Long, Overdue Fiji Update!

It has been far too long since we have been able to get an update on here, but our hope is to have a newsletter out to you about once a month as we get closer to our departure to Fiji next year! 

What Have We Been Up To?

This past July, I had the privilege of returning to Fiji to meet with the leadership of the College of Theology and Evangelism and to discuss the details pertaining to partnering with their ministry beginning next year!

fiji-2016-leadership-meeting

Tim Borruel (Elder at Placerita Bible Church), Dr. Narayan Nair (President CTEF), Premend Choy (Vice President CTEF), Me, Dr. Adam Tyson (Pastor of Placerita Bible Church), Lisa Tyson (Adam’s wife & my sister), and Del Seehusen (my father), met to prepare the way for our arrival next year.

It was a wonderful time of fellowship as we talked about the many ways the Lord is working at CTEF and how He is preparing the Seehusen family to join them!

During this trip our church, Placerita Bible Church, had the opportunity to host a Vacation Bible School at the college, which led to some amazing relationship building opportunities for CTEF and many young Hindu students making professions of faith.  It was such an amazing time of watching the Lord work and served to confirm our desire to begin ministry as soon as possible.

When Are We Leaving?

We get asked this question a lot!  The short answer is that Jordan, Taj, and I are hoping to be ready to leave one year from now!  We have reached our Fall goal of 25% monthly support and are hoping to be fully funded by July 2017.  We would ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us financially to help us reach this target date. 

What Are You Currently Up To? 

Life is never dull at the Seehusen home!  We have loved being able to continue being involved at our home church Placerita Bible Church and specifically in the leadership roles we’ve been given in small group, counseling center, and women’s ministry there.   In addition, I am working towards finishing up my ACBC certification which includes 50 hours of supervised counseling and have been blessed to have Dr. John Street as my supervisor!   This past semester we were also blessed to be involved in a counseling Sunday School class taught by Dr. Stuart Scott, a leader in the counseling community, who  provided us with many excellent insights and resources that will prove useful for our future ministry in Fiji. 

Where Are You Working?

I am currently working as the International Church Relations Manager for Joni and Friends in Agoura Hills, CA.  In this role I have had the privilege of meeting with key church and ministry leaders to help equip them to evangelize and disciple people affected by disabilities.  We are doing this by bringing the disability and biblical counseling worlds together so that churches will be prepared to effectively care for those who are often overlooked and neglected.  

This past October, I had the privilege of attending the ACBC and CCEF Biblical Counseling conferences with Joni and Friends and then flew to Singapore where we had a wonderful time with Pastor Soon Yong Tan, Roger Ng and John Zheng, and Jimmy and Rachel Tan.  In God’s amazing providence, Pastor Soon Yong has been an active partner with the College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji and regularly ministers at their annual pastor’s conference.  We are so thankful for God using Joni and Friends to introduce us to some of the people that will be walking alongside us in Fiji!  

What About Jordan and Taj?

Both of them are doing great!  Jordan is loving her role as a stay at home mom and thoroughly enjoyed her time helping co-lead a table at women’s Bible study on the book of Proverbs.  She is in the application process to pursue her Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling (MABC) through the Summer Intensive Program (designed for distance learning) at The Master’s University.  Taj is the sweetest and feistiest little toddler we have ever known and has discovered the joy of sports.  He currently loves pointing out a ball wherever he sees one.  He is a bit confused on produce though and trips to the grocery store are always entertaining as every peach, apple, orange or lemon gets an enthusiastic shout of “Ball!” along with a short, self congratulatory applause.  We are so thankful for him and for the abundant blessings the Lord has put in our lives. 

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare to take these next steps toward Fiji!

1 Year Ago Today

A lot happens in one year.  Today was the TMAI 2016 Pre-Conference held at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, CA.  The Master’s Academy International (TMAI) is a non-profit organization that provides biblical training around the world.  Exactly one year ago today, I met with Dr. Narayan Nair and Premend Choy at the first TMAI Conference held the day before the 2015 Shepherds Conference.  TMAI-Logo

At this time last year, Dr. Nair, Premend, and I first discussed the possibility of partnering in ministry in Fiji.  Since then, the Lord has clearly led Jordan and me down this path of becoming missionaries there!  As I have reflected on these events, I have been reminded of the truth that it is not our responsibility to determine a plan for our lives, but rather we are to discover the plan God has established for us.

I am reminded of Psalm 139:16
         “Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
        in your book were written, every one of them,
        the days that were formed for me,
        when as yet there was none of them.”
There is much joy and peace to be found in resting in the providence of God!

Today, I was blessed with the wonderful opportunity to meet with many of the men who currently serve the Lord in TMAI training centers throughout the Asia Pacific region.  Each of these men have been uniquely gifted and called to extraordinary ministries where they are equipping men to be the spiritual leaders of the future.  (To learn more about how the Lord is at work through The Master’s Academy International Click Here to view the TMAI website)

The College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji pursues the same goal as these TMAI training centers.  The leadership at CTEF currently enjoys fellowship with TMAI and is viewed as CTEF Logoan affiliate school, which affirms their mutual desire to glorify God by providing biblically sound training so that men will be equipped to teach and proclaim the Word of God.  I am looking forward to continuing this work by training leaders and strengthening the church in Fiji so that the next generation of believers will proclaim Christ!

Urgent Fiji Update: Cyclone Winston – Current Devastation and Future Hope

Tens of thousands of Fijians are currently homeless as a result of the devastation of Category 5 Cyclone Winston and a series of powerful earthquakes.  Our Fijian brothers and sisters in Christ remain steadfast and confident in the faithfulness of God, but the urgency for help remains.  These friends relayed stories of families taking shelter under their beds becoming soaked from the flood waters in the middle of the night as fierce winds tore the metal roofs from their homes.  Several fervently prayed as their neighbors’ homes were collapsing.Koro Island

At least 6 families who attend the local Bible churches associated with our future ministry partners have lost their homes along with all their possessions.  We have heard reports that even these families are sharing what little relief they have received with others who are desperate and hurting.  The love of the Christ is on display and the grace of God is shining in these times of darkness.

Please continue to pray as our Fijian friends spend these next days and months rebuilding their lives.  They currently have many practical financial needs and will need to rebuild the homes that have been destroyed.  Jordan and I will serve alongside many members of our home church, Placerita Bible Church (Santa Clarita, California), this July during a Short-term Mission Trip to serve these Fijian churches and the College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji.  Please let us know if you would like to participate in any way!  

If you desire to contribute directly to these families in need, you may follow this link to donate and note “Fiji Relief Help” in the “Designated Ministry” box: https://afci.us/support-us/donations-page/

Fiji – Tropical Cyclone Update – Please Pray!

In the past 24 hours Fiji has endured the first Category 5 tropical cyclone in its history.  The Fijian Islands, the place we hope to soon call home, encountered the most severe tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere with winds surpassing 2Fiji Cyclone00mph.

As the eye of this destructive storm passed, Fiji experienced three powerful earthquakes with one measuring at a 5.8.  Several media outlets have labeled these recent events a string of bad luck. Others have remarked that the Fijian people just can’t catch a break.

However, for those who have firmly placed their confidence in the sovereignty and goodness of God, there is a markedly different response.  We are reminded that God rules His creation with absolute control.

Psalm 46:1-3
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

Our hope comes from the assurance that God is not only our protector in the midst of the storm, but He is the one who controls the earth and the sea.  Our God is not only powerful, but He is good and is currently working all things together for our good and His glory.

Please pray with me today that God will glorify Himself through these recent events.  Pray that those who are in Christ will maintain their confidence in the goodness of God as they hear of loved ones who are injured or deceased.  Make it your prayer that God will use these events to bring about the salvation of many!