NBTS E-Story

NBTS' Joan Marshall shares counseling expertise in Kenya and at home

Joan Marshall (Class of 2008) has a gift for counseling. Already this year she has answered the call to share her expertise locally-as our new Coordinator of Student Services and Chaplain-and globally. She recently instructed pastors and church leaders in Kenya about how to be more effective counselors.

Pastors, lay leaders and military police in Joans workshop in rural Nakuru, Kenya discussed ethics, law and culture.
This spring the world has watched with baited breath as Kenya's government and people struggle to accept the results of their March 2013 presidential election. On everyone's mind was the terrible violence of 2007-8 that resulted in the loss of more than 1,000 lives. Just days ago, Kenya's Supreme Court confirmed the results of the election and Prime Minister Odinga conceded, despite confirmed irregularities, signaling greater trust in the Judiciary. Meanwhile Kenya's next president Mr. Kenyatta will soon be summoned to stand trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, accused of financing death squads during the 2007-8 chaos.

Earlier this January, as Kenyans braced for the upcoming elections, Joan Marshall cleared her calendar and answered the call of church leaders and pastors in Kenya who were seeking new ways to prepare, guide and assist their congregations.

Small groups discussed stressful counseling situations including suicide which one pastor in particular was struggling with at that time.
"My pastor-students are always asking about counseling training," says Dr. Dorris Ngaujah who leads the Pan African School of Theology. "In light of the General Election in Kenya on March 4th, and with the horrors of the last election (2007-2008) still fresh on everyone's mind, church and civic leaders were anxious to know how to comfort and restore the 'shalom.' Needless to say, all of Joan's sessions were well attended." An evangelical theological college in Nyahururu, Kenya, the Pan African School of Theology was founded in 2006 by Pan African Christian Exchange (PACE Ministries International), an indigenous Christian mission organization. The college provides higher education to local pastors.

Back home today Joan serves the NBTS community as coordinator of student services. "I'm working very closely with Dean Ashley to ensure our students have the support they need," she explains. "In my new position, I am guiding students from the time they express an interest in the Seminary to the time they graduate." Her job is to encourage students, figure out any stumbling blocks, and help them succeed.

This is no game preserve! This herd of zebras greeted Joan as she and her host travelled the countryside between workshops.
Joan also seeks to strengthen the NBTS community through fellowship and learning events and advising the student leadership organizations. And she is supervising our new student recruiting events and efforts. "God is calling men and women to ministry and we are here to help them in that discernment process."

All aspects of Joan's role at the Seminary draw on her deep experience as a licensed counselor. She has an MSW degree from the Hunter College School of Social Work, a Certificate in Family Therapy from the Ackerman Institute for the Family, and has been teaching at the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling. "I think perhaps I learned most at Alliance," she says. "When you teach something you haveto think about it differently."

This is the very expertise Joan was called on to share in Kenya. Dr. Ngaujah accompanied Joan to classes, events and worship services in four very different areas: Naivasha, Nyahururu, Nakuru, Mombasa and back to Nairobi over four weeks. Joan instructed seminar participants in Crisis Intervention and gave tips on how to recognize what is normal in crisis reactions. Her discussions covered the importance of Christian counseling, God's commission to counselors, and qualities of the counseling relationship. Joan mixed role-playing in the sessions and she brought the Sunday morning message at Dr. Ngaujah's home church and at the Happy Church both in Nyahururu.

Helen, the woman pictured in the top photo with Joan, is a lay leader who works with widows and participated in Joan's counseling skills workshop. The next day she told Joan, "Last night I slept like a baby and I haven't slept like that in months." Helen had recently lost her son and she was relieved to know from Joan that her grieving process was normal. We can only imagine the renewed energy Helen will have for her clients.

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