Interview with Ruth Froese
This is the third interview, by Ellen Castillo, in a series of posts featuring women who are biblical counselors. Each post will feature one or more counselors who have agreed to an interview to tell us about their ministries, their experience and expertise, and the history of their involvement in biblical counseling.
We trust that you will find this series informative and insightful. Many women have asked what opportunities might be open to them upon obtaining either a degree or certification in biblical counseling. As the biblical counseling movement expands, so do the opportunities for women to serve in a variety of ways as biblical counselors. Over the course of this series, you will hear from women who serve vocationally, as volunteers, in their churches, in a para-church organizations, in colleges, and a variety of other areas where they are serving around the globe.
Today we interview Ruth Froese, MA Biblical Counseling
A: At this point, by God’s grace, it’s been forty-seven years of glorious marriage to my best friend. At first, we made our homes in Ontario, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, and New York City as he played (ten years) and then coached in the National Hockey League. Four sons filled those happy homes with noise, energy, and hockey equipment. For the past twenty years, my husband has also been my pastor! It’s been pure joy to serve the Lord at Faith Fellowship Church in Western New York. Lately, our family has welcomed beautiful daughters-in-law and a little granddaughter, who comes with sweetness, laughter, and love of flowers! The boys used to call me Yard-Commander, but that little girl and I can easily pass a glorious day outside gardening together. The other hobby I love is writing–mainly Bible studies useful for our church–but I’m presently working on the fifth re-write of my grandmother’s story as a historical novel, which, if I can write it well enough that you’ll want to read it, will help you think even more highly of biblical counseling.
Q: What are your credentials as a Biblical Counselor?
A: I am certified as a biblical counselor through IABC, the International Association of Biblical Counselors. After earning a B.S. in Psychology, I worked toward a secular counseling degree, until the Lord grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me around to the counseling plan He had already written! So I switched and by His grace earned a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling, and have recently been working toward a Masters of Divinity in Biblical Counseling.
Q: Are you in vocational ministry (paid), or volunteer?
A: I am in ministry in both categories—paid and unpaid. The biblical counselors at the Faith Fellowship Biblical Counseling Center all serve as unpaid biblical counselors, since we do not charge counselees. However, we are a biblical counseling church, and our church graciously pays for the physical and administrative aspects of the center for which I serve as Director of Women’s Counseling.
Q: How long have you been a biblical counselor?
A: I have been a certified biblical counselor for ten years, first with NANC, and now with IABC.
Q: How did you get interested in becoming a biblical counselor, what drew you into the ministry?
A: What a question! Hope you don’t mind if the answer meanders a bit. My Dad served the Lord as a teacher/chaplain/pastor, and back then no one in my family played or understood sports. So when I married a hockey player, God’s grace stretched me to being able to serve Him as the wife of a professional athlete! During those years, the writings of Francis Schaeffer directed me to firm belief in God’s Word as absolute truth. From that foundation, God gave us many exciting opportunities for ministry to professional athletes; even speaking engagements in various countries.
But God, to our surprise, called my husband as a pastor, and he began to study. So I went to school too, hoping to learn how to help hurting women, which I figured must be part of what it meant to be a pastor’s wife. My husband was studying integrated counseling at the time, and it seemed to fit for me to study psychology. But, our work in counseling from psychology was ineffective and at best, half-hearted. Half-hearted because we believed Scripture is absolutely God’s truth while attempting to work from theories that originate everywhere but in God. Did we, or did we not believe Scripture’s many promises of being the hope needed for the inner-man problems faced by mankind? Well, ten years ago, the Lord brought the beauty of biblical counseling across our path. We were like two giddy kids at our first biblical counseling conference, pinching ourselves to see if it wasn’t just a dream! What a joy! What a relief to be able to help others from paradigms that include no compromise. No more theories! Back to absolute truth! We began to study biblical counseling and to counsel with complete confidence and contented conviction. Before long, others in our church were involved and we presently have twelve biblical counselors working with folks. Also, the Lord has provided a few avenues by while we’ve been involved in training others in biblical counseling.
Q: Please give us a history of your experience as a biblical counselor.
A: As I respond to your questions, we are flying over the Atlantic Ocean after two weeks in Albania, where we’ve presented over twenty hours of biblical counseling teaching in three different cities. In a few months, Lord willing, we’ll be taking our fourth trip to Romania to assist in training biblical counselors there. Last year, again, it was our great joy to teach biblical counseling in our homeland, Canada. In the fall we will be back with one of our favorite groups of folks hungry for biblical counseling truths, Amish and Mennonite folks in PA. I hate the way this sounds like a rattling-off of cities. Each place represents precious eternal friendships; beautiful faces we’ve come to love dearly; lives we’ve seen transformed into joy as they’ve learned to live by God’s provision of all that is needed for true hope and peace.
Q: Do you partner with male counselors or pastors in your ministry? In what ways and what advantages does male partnership bring to your ministry?
A. In our counseling center, couples counsel couples, men counsel men, and women counsel women. The exception we’ve made is when a female counselor has worked with a child, and that child’s parent(s) come in; however, it is our goal that the child’s parent(s) would be counseled according to the above paradigm. As Director of Women’s Counseling, I submit to the headship of the Director of our Biblical Counseling Center, who is our pastor (and my husband). If you knew how sinfully prideful and controlling I am, you would know that this provides many opportunities to confess my sin and walk in gospel interaction. The fact that I am able to fulfill this role is a huge testimony to God’s amazing grace!
Q: Do you partner with other female counselors, and in what ways? In what ways and what advantages does female partnership bring to your ministry?
A: The female counselors in our center are a tremendous blessing to the church. They love and serve beyond the call; truly the love of Christ dwells in them richly. Also, we are part of a biblical counseling church, and it is a joy to see the progression from counseling to discipleship. Many women whom we originally came to know in a counseling capacity have been blessed by moving into an ongoing discipleship relationship with a woman of the church who loves her and walks with her. In Christ’s beautiful disciple-making paradigm, she will grow in Him and make disciples of others.
Q: What women have most heavily influenced you as a biblical counselor?
A: I am blessed beyond words by the faithful female biblical counselors in our church.
Q: What men have most heavily influenced you as a biblical counselor?
A: I am most heavily influenced and encouraged by my husband, Dr. Bob Froese, who daily denies himself in order to faithfully serve the Lord. Next, Dr. Ed Bulkley, the president of the International Association of Biblical Counselors. And then, Dr. Jeffrey Forrey, who taught us why there really is no such thing as integrated counseling.
Q: What counseling or ministry resources specific to women do you find most helpful?
A: The IABC website, www.iabc.net, offers a wonderful growing list of biblical counselor resources which are free to IABC biblical counselors.
Q: We all must count the cost of ministry. What has ministry cost you?
A: Colossians 3:1-4. Ministry as a biblical counselor is a wonderful opportunity to be dead to self and alive in Christ.
Q: Do you have a ‘ministry verse’ for your ministry that you find most meaningful? If so, why is it special to you?
A: 1 Corinthians 2:2-4, especially verse 2. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
Why? The message of biblical counseling is not a message of man’s paradigms or the world’s attempts at giving hope. The message of biblical counseling is Jesus – Jesus crucified for my sins, and so I die to self and am found in Him; this begins when I admit and confess my sin and let it be imputed onto Him on the cross. Then the message of biblical counseling is that Christ’s righteousness is imputed onto me and I can and will become more like the One I love and adore, and I want to know nothing among you except Him, and Him crucified, because He is my only hope and power. The message of biblical counseling is relationship, it is love, it is Jesus.
Q: Ministry can be draining and exhausting. How do you recharge?
A: The Word of God is energizing, never draining. I have died and when I feel like I can’t go on, like this week when it was 101 degrees in Albania and my feet were swollen into ugly clubs and there were still four more sessions to teach, I can cling hard and tight to the One who is shaping me on His pottery wheel, and He energizes me with joy and pours out through me. Any feelings of exhaustion or being drained are just a blessed opportunity to suffer in a tiny way, like Jesus suffered greatly for me. Will I joyfully reflect Him in His sufferings?
I want to glorify God. If I’m not joyfully energized to serve in the small ways He allows, I should be ashamed of myself because I’m proving that I’m just doing my thing, not His. And when I read biographies of those gone before (such as Noel Piper’s book , “Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God”) I think I have not really ever served my Savior, not yet. Whatever He calls me to, He will empower.
Let us be biblical counselors who live by 1 Peter 4:11 – “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your heart for the ministry of biblical counseling with our readers today. May God richly bless you as you continue to serve Him!
This series of interviews is conducted by Ellen Castillo, a Biblical Counselor and the Director of Word of Hope Ministries, Inc., on behalf of Biblical Counseling for Women. You can connect with Ellen at www.wordofhopeministries.com and www.biblicalmentor.com