Practicum Testimony

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

These words were penned by the Apostle Paul from prison, a place that often leaves one in a state of hopelessness and despair without a positive outlook for the future or concern for another’s well-being. This was not so for the Apostle Paul. His assurance and confidence was rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul explains God’s plans for Him and how his imprisonment was being used as an opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel. He made it clear: God had positioned him at this specific place, under these specific circumstances, for a specific reason. That reason was to preach the unfathomable riches that come from knowing Christ as one’s Lord and Savior!

My name is Curtis Fahrlender. I am currently a youth pastor in Central Iowa and finishing up a Master of Science in Counseling from Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, PA. As I was nearing the end of my counseling degree, I needed to find a ministry where I could complete my practicum and internship requirements. As I was praying and searching for possible locations, I remembered a counseling ministry that focused on remedial discipleship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Grace Fellowship International (GFI). Dr. John Woodward graciously agreed to allow GFI to be my supervision and practicum site. I have been able to meet with Dr. Woodward every other week to discuss counseling and ministry situations, and he has guided me in applying the Exchange Life Model to my current ministry settings. This has been extremely helpful and I have seen great results.

2 Corinthians chapter 1 is sometimes referred to as the soul care passage. Paul teaches us important attributes of God. He is the God of all comfort and Father of mercies (2 Corinthians 1:1-7). He then moves from theological to personal testimony. In verses 8-11 we are invited to the apostle’s personal struggle and affliction. The climax of his testimony is found in verse 9, “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” This verse summarizes the impact GFI has had on my counseling methodology. The struggles, afflictions, aspects of rejection, unmet expectations, frustrations, and so on all happen in our life, as Paul says, to teach us something extremely important. They teach us reliance. We can rely either on ourselves to get through the difficult journey or on God who raises the dead.

This is summed up in the wheel and line diagrams which — along with the other significant contributions GFI have made to the field of biblical counseling — has been so valuable to me. I desire to come alongside the local church and to train and equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). As I continue to embrace this Christ centered message in my own life, I look forward with great excitement to see how the Lord will use my training at GFI. I’m excited to see the Exchanged Life message be used in bringing about hope in a world that desperately needs it.