An Encounter With the Healing Christ -- By: Carol Ball

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 31:0 (NA 1999)
Article: An Encounter With the Healing Christ
Author: Carol Ball

An Encounter With the Healing Christ

Carol Ball

Carol Ball (MA in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling from ATS, 1988) is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Westlake, Ohio.

On a dull gray Dallas morning in November 1997 the grand ballroom of the Hyatt Regency hotel was filled with a warm, bright, encompassing light. It wasn’t a light produced by the ballroom fixtures, nor one that could be physically seen. Rather it was felt and experienced from within, yet was just as real as if it had been tangible. The unexpected events of that morning could not have been predicted by the more than two thousand American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) delegates gathered from around the globe at a plenary session of the World Conference. The designated speaker that morning was the President of Compassion International. He was to challenge our thinking on poverty as we wrestled with the conference topic of “Christian Counseling in Partnership with the Local Church and the World Community.” After a time of joyful worship and introduction Dr. Wesley K. Stafford stepped to the podium to begin his address. This tall, dignified, impeccably dressed man began to convey his passionate concern for those caught in poverty in the third world. His words were initially forceful, calm and confident. There was a hesitation, followed by a pause and then the unexpected happened. The Spirit of the living God unequivocally moved in our midst.

Somewhat tentatively Wesley began to share at a deeper personal level. He had been unexpectedly summoned to Florida to testify at a Disciplinary Board Hearing of a mission organization held the previous day. He switched gears. He had spent his childhood summers as the “only white boy” in an African village on the Ivory Coast where his father was a missionary. There he felt accepted and that he “belonged.” It was in this setting that he came to understand poverty at its grass roots. The rest of the year he attended boarding school with 80 other boys whose parents were in the mission field. Wesley lowered his head, his voice dropped, and his tone changed. At school he and the other boys experienced “every kind of abuse known to man,” physical, emotional, and sexual, enduring numerous weekly beatings. He went on to share how he was required to send a weekly letter to his parents saying how “happy” he was, as it was impressed upon him and the other boys the importance of “not jeopardizing the significant work their parents were doing for God.” None of them had spoke out until recently. At the previous days’ hearing several of the men shared details of their boyhood experiences in the presence of their former abusers. Wesley’s voice quivered.

This had been a...

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