Testimonies of Certified Exchanged Life Counselors
José D. Barreda
For over 40 years, the Lord has given us a desire to see families reconcile by first of all coming to Christ and seeing God Change lives. We were given a burden to do so, by reaching pre-teens and teenagers (the Youth Culture). After 25 years of ministry we felt led to start a ministry to reach the youth through the Educator’s in public and private schools. Educator’s Professional Network Inc. (EPN Inc.) was established in 1996 to help develop ‘Caring Communities” in the schools, colleges and universities by developing a prayer network within the campuses and the support of individuals, churches and businesses. The message of the Exchanged Life is vital as we see the Holy Spirit change the spiritual climate of a campus through the life change of Administrators, Teachers, employees and those over the schools in the county.
I am a product of Christ’s work and forgiveness, and the message of Paul in I Corinthians 1:4 is the message of our ministry to a generation:
“…Who comforts us in all our tribulation… that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”
Experience with the GFI Certification Process
I was first introduced to Dr. Solomon and the Exchanged Life message in 1977 at a Keswick Conference with Major Ian Thomas. Through reading Handbook to Happiness and Watchman Nee’s The Normal Christian Life, I was thrilled to have a visual approach to appropriate this truth in my life. In that time of ministry, I was the Pastor of a Hispanic Church and had to translate the message into Spanish in order to share with our ministry. I was later introduced to his books, The Rejection Syndrome and The Ins and Outs of Rejection. The Biblical truths in these books helped me overcome the false ideas of my personal beliefs and helped me realize my true Identity in Christ.
Certain events led me to pursue my Certification in the Exchanged Life Counseling with the Spirituotherapy model. In 2013 a dear friend died due to unresolved issues in his life, and his wife who is a Counselor began coming to us for counsel. At the same time, some in the School System told me that I needed to have credentials other than my Degree in Pastoral Administration and Pastoring. My wife and I really sought the Lord on this. The answer came from a meeting from a District School Director that told us that our ‘organization’ is looked at as a consulting and counseling identity. Since, for 35 years, I have used the principles of the Spirituotherapy Model, I contacted Grace Fellowship International to seek guidance on how to pursue the certification.
My wife and I put it to prayer and the Lord showed us how He would pay for all the expenses. We wrote out each expense and it was incredible to see God provide, even allowing us to bless others as we went through the certification process.
The entire staff of Grace Fellowship International has been so encouraging and helpful. Dr. Woodward and his wife, have been true mentors in not only the message of The Exchanged Life, but in helping me know how to properly counsel, and properly apply Scripture to life situations, in my life as well as those I counseled. As I went through this process for about one year, I was encouraged in the Lord as I realized the path the Lord has taken me in my life. From the time of receiving Him, the struggles of insecurity in my life, the areas in which I had been broken and where I totally failed, to the place of understanding the true significance of Romans 8:26-39.
How I am using The Exchanged Life Counseling
For 35 years I have used the Biblical principles from the book Handbook to Happiness as a process of discipleship. In Pastoral Counseling I also used the importance of understanding how God works in the lives of His Children in order to conform us into His image as we go through trials, sufferings, and losses.
In the past year, as I went through the Certification process with the Exchanged Life Message and the Spirituotherapy Model, I have had the privilege in seeing God work even deeper in the lives of those whom I have the privilege to speak into their lives. I have seen those whom the Lord has enlightened with His love and truth, begin a transformed life. I have had the opportunity to minister to various business people, housewives, young professionals, Pastors and their spouse as they come to realize the message God is developing in their life.
In the past few months, in the ministry of EPN Inc., with the Schools, with the Exchanged Life Counseling, we have seen some teachers not only come to Christ, but have a new outlook in life. We are currently walking two couples through reconciliation as we counsel with them.
In May of 2015, we also saw one of the School’s Head Psychiatrists come to Christ and is seeking how to share this experience through her life. It is a privilege to see the fulfillment of God’s prophecy from Jeremiah 31:31-34 come to life. I continue to watch God’s heart, and the power of His Spirit and Word transforming people’s lives.
My Certification Process Experience
by Cherri Freeman
My certification process has been a long one, extending over three and a half years. I first went to Grace Fellowship International in November, 2011, thinking that I was only attending the conference. I was first offered a scholarship for the workshop and then a further scholarship for the Solomon School of Counseling. At that point in time, counseling was very far from my mind; however, God had other ideas! The truths of the Exchanged Life became very clear to me during that time and I knew that I would never be the same.
Joe and I were called into full-time ministry as field staff with GFI in April, 2013, including solidifying the relationship with John Woodward as our mentor. We have felt the call to take the grace message to those who are in addiction so that they also can experience freedom in Christ. The motto of our ministry is “Surfing the wave of grace as we reach out to those in addiction and to those who love them.” God has blessed in so many ways as we see lives transformed and families restored. This journey has been difficult but also rewarding.
Joe has taken classes towards a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling. I felt that I should complete the GFI counseling certification process and have been working closely with John Woodward to meet the requirements. The reading list was a blessing, as were the video and audio series. Working with counselees who have been abused or who have addiction issues personally or in their family is difficult but rewarding.
God has led me to start a ministry to mothers who have children in addiction and that has provided opportunities to counsel many women, including leading several to make a decision for Christ. I am grateful to be able to use the experiences that have hurt me to be able to encourage, exhort, teach, pray with, and share the love of God with others in pain.
News: Cherri recently published a book, Beside Still Waters: Discovering Peace in the Midst of Your Child’s Addiction. It is especially for mothers who are hurting and don’t know where to turn as they deal with this heartache. The book can be ordered through www.LoveThemToLife.com and Amazon. We pray that it will be a tool to encourage moms, and that support groups will be started in more communities and churches.
My Certification Process Experience
The Grace Fellowship International certification program has been one of the most positive and beneficial experiences in my Christian life. I did exchanged life training in the mid to late 90’s through a related ministry in Tennessee. While I learned much during that training, I feel the training I’ve received from GFI has been a deeper and more usable.
Since my certification with them almost twenty years ago, I’ve done a lot of Biblical/ discipleship counseling. The reason I chose to go through the GFI work was two-fold. Mainly, it was because I wanted to review and gain new insight for my personal life, as well as my counseling ministry. Through this process, I feel better equipped to share through the Spirituotherapy materials and training.
Personally, I’ve been reminded of my own identity in Christ. I lost my husband (to cancer) three years ago and found that I wasn’t sure where I fit anymore after my husband was gone. No longer a wife, a missionary, and not ministering alongside my husband was heartbreaking. I believe part of personal healing has been through the Holy Spirit using the truths I’ve been reminded of during my training with GFI.
Currently, I am serving in my church as a Biblical/discipleship counselor. I don’t know what God has in the future but my desire is to continue to minister to hurting women through the means of the Spirituotherapy methodology. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the ministry at GFI. I value the friendships I’ve made and hope to continue them.