The Hirth Family in Asia
Unlike America, most Asian cities have an extreme shortage of mental health care workers. This reality, combined with strong cultural expectations on pastors to care for their communities, has created a tremendous need for Christian counseling training in Asia. Imagine living in a war-torn country or refugee camp (very real sites at the seminary) and being asked to serve as pastor. How would you help those experiencing trauma responses, anxiety, abuse, depression, or addiction? Imagine the feelings of helplessness as you attempt to work, lead, and care for those who are hurting - all without any formal training.
This is where ABTS (Asia Biblical Theological Seminary) comes in. For 35+ years, ABTS has served alongside Cornerstone University, in Grand Rapids, MI, to provide an American accredited master's degree in Asia. Unlike most seminaries in the Western World, ABTS has built its entire infrastructure to be lightweight and portable. This has allowed them to bring entire degree programs to the doorstep of these leaders in Asia. By setting up cohorts and asking the faculty to travel to these communities, teaching via 10 day onsite intensive classes, these students are able to study without the added cost of leaving their hometown. Additionally, ABTS subsidizes these classes with generous scholarships, allowing them to empower and equip those who both need it the most and otherwise could not.
Over the course of those 35 years, ABTS has graduated hundreds of students from 25+ nationalities. They have provided academically rigorous theological training with the vision to, "produce global theologians and practitioners who are growing spiritually, thinking creatively, teaching biblically and serving contextually." They have done so with excellence, but until now have been unable to help fill the gap in counseling training.
This is where
Gabe and I come in
Given my education and experience as a counselor, mediator, and pastor, ABTS has invited me to join the team in hopes of meeting three specific needs:
1. Partner with Churches to begin offering a selection of counseling courses across Asia
2. Start a new Christian Counseling emphasis in the Master of Religious Education (MRE) program
3. Create and direct a full master's degree program in Christian Counseling
This is certainly an ambitious undertaking, but one that seems prized to help meet the tangible needs of these pastors and leaders as they care for their communities.
Nationalities of the ABTS student body
ABTS is making a difference all across Asia and beyond!
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