We congratulate chaplain Juan Mendez who just completed his certification as an Exchanged Life Counselor. He testifies,
“The Exchanged Life Certification and Training has a plethora of resources to equip counselors and lay persons to be more confident in approaching the helping profession. It does this in a variety of ways, such as offering visual diagrams, methodologies, pastoral leadership, seminars, insights from God’s Word, testimonies, and useful books that can be incorporated into daily ministry practices . . .
“This model of counseling has been helpful for addiction recovery in many ways, which is my primary use for it . . . Many of the counselees that enter the America’s Keswick residential recovery center were circling around in a spiritual wilderness, and this model helps pinpoint where to engage in the [spiritual] warfare. The [GFI] curriculum has a structured format to walk each counselee from darkness to light, stepping out from the lies into the truth, and eventually claiming their new identity in Christ . . .”
I was raised in a Catholic home and attended a Catholic grade school and High School which including my freshman and sophomore years in a minor Catholic seminary. I completed my formal education by gaining my Bachelor’s degree from a Catholic College and my MBA from a Catholic University. I maintained my strong Catholic ties well into my adult years. However in 1999 my wife and I received an invitation to attend an event at an Evangelical Church. This invitation led to some questions and within a short period of time we began attending both the Catholic as well as the Evangelical church.
I was struggling between my strong catholic ties and two critical concepts I encountered in the Evangelical church: mainly, that every person needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and that the Bible was God’s personal love letter to each of us. If that were the case, I needed to read the Bible. From today’s vantage point, these facts seem so basic to my walk as a Christian, but back then it was a huge turning point for me.
The Holy Spirit began working mightily to open the eyes of my heart. In a short period of time I began attending a Men’s Bible study and was being mentored by a strong Christian man. In 2004, my wife and I were baptized. When I gave my life over to the Lord there were two Bible passages that He put on my heart. The first was Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” And also Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
About three years ago our faith journey led us to Grace church and a Sunday morning class. Then came an invitation from Brad and Lynn Adams to attend a presentation by John Woodward (of Grace Fellowship International) arranged by Cross to Life Discipleship Ministry in Minnesota. When I heard the presentation and realized the message was based on Galatians 2:20 and the “Exchanged Life,” I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. After that Saturday I acquired and read Dr. Solomon’s Handbook to Happiness. I then read two more of his books and went through the webinar class with John. I also observed John as he took a man through a multiple session Exchanged Life mentoring process.
Back In 2005, the Holy Spirit drew me into discipling and mentoring men within our church, and eventually by 2010 I was strongly involved with prison ministry. I have now incorporated lots of the Handbook to Happiness diagrams and Bible verses into my “toolbox” and I have encouraged a number of men to read the book so that the Holy Spirit could use it to impact their walks directly.
One of the prisoners with whom I have been working since 2012 has read Handbook to Happiness and The Ins and Outs of Rejection at my suggestion. Not only has it intensified his own walk with the Lord, but he has shared the message with other men in the prison as well. In January, 2018 this inmate will be leading a group of 10 men, navigating them through The New Life book by Regional Wallace. The class is called “Your Identity in Christ.” We have supplied books for them to use and we are hoping this becomes a regular part of the Prison Fellowship Academy program. I am excited about this opportunity, and I am in communication with the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections about getting this implemented in other locations for inmates.
I also lead the Every Man A Warrior study group at Grace Church on Saturday mornings and refer to the Galatians 2:20 material there. I recently shared John Woodward’s “Paradigm Shift” article with one of the men to help him understand more of the New Covenant concepts.
I retired last May and was then able to begin and complete the first step of the personalization process to become trained for “intensive discipleship” to men through the Cross to Life ministry here in Minneapolis. I was not sure what to expect of that process. It turned out to be very eye-opening for me. As Linda Gammon and her co-discipler took me through the Main Truths to be Shared in Exchanged Life Discipleship, I uncovered and learned a lot about myself that had been “hidden” before. I am so appreciative of the investment that the Cross to Life Discipleship ministry team made in taking me through this process. I look forward to the next step of observing trained Exchanged Life mentors to further what the Holy Spirit wants to do through me. Praise the Lord!
We congratulate Yvonne Ward on completing her certification process in Exchanged Life Counseling with Grace Fellowship International. Here is her testimony:
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.
I have been struggling in my walk with God for many years. Every time I would try to go forward in my Christian walk, I felt greatly hindered in a myriad of ways. Finally I got so frustrated I asked God what the problem was. I told God, “I am doing all I know to do; I am going to church, praying, seeking You and Your word – surrendering my life to You to the best of my ability…What is missing?”
The Lord answered me in His still, small voice: “The cross.” Well… being a Christian, I thought I already knew about the cross, but I recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice, so I started searching for answers. I began studying the Scriptures and searching the internet for ministries which specialized on the cross. I came across GFI and felt I had found a ministry which seemed to have covered the message of the cross much more thoroughly than anything else I had ever seen.
To make a long story as short as I can, my husband and I went there. (He came reluctantly). I knew from reading Dr. Solomon’s books and talking to him, that we were going there to enter into a complete surrender to God. I asked God what He wanted me to surrender first and He said, “your marriage.” I thought I had a pretty good marriage so I was a little shocked. I told my husband about it, and although I was going for four days of counseling, we decided to surrender our marriage to the Lord.
Well, after the four days of counseling with Dr. Solomon at GFI, the Lord began a total transformation of our marriage. Hidden things which had been there for a long time began to surface and the Lord cleaned us up–all by a sovereign supernatural work of God. Our marriage was completely made over and I received a “new husband” who actually loves God as much (or maybe more) than me–since God did a thorough “house cleaning” so to speak.
Yet, because I knew I still was not fully surrendering to the Lord, I was frustrated. Dr. Solomon said, “You are trying to do what God has already done.” I began to understand that salvation is by faith and so is sanctification! So I began to “let go and let God”.
Before I knew it, things got worse, not better as I came to the end of myself. I had a lot of fear and began having panic attacks and couldn’t eat or sleep for almost four weeks. It was horrible. My husband and I began seeking God like we had never sought him. I called Dr. Solomon and asked him to pray. Then the Lord showed us that my problem with panic attacks and not being able to eat or sleep was actually “spiritual warfare”. God led us to take authority over the spirit of fear and hindering spirits and tell them to leave in the name and authority of Jesus. We did this and I began to get better. I began living a normal life and could eat and sleep again.
I was still having panic attacks, though, and kept calling Dr. Solomon for prayer and assistance. He asked me if I had fellowship with other believers who understood the power of the cross. I told him I had fellowship, but mostly on the phone…and the people I knew didn’t really understand the cross like I was beginning to understand it. He said, “Well, you need real fellowship, not just over the phone. And from people who have a vital relationship to the Lord.” So Dr. Solomon found someone in Little Rock, near me, who had worked with him in ministry at one time. So, I met this person and he introduced me to some women in my neighborhood who were wholeheartedly seeking the Lord! Through their fellowship with me and their love I got healed of a lot of emotional wounds. Also, I no longer have panic attacks. Praise the Lord!
Just recently we went back to GFI at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to learn how to better articulate this fuller message of the cross…that Christ not only died for our sins, but we also died with Him and are resurrected to new life! (Rom. 6:3-6; Eph. 2:4-7). Our lives are totally a work of grace from start to finish! I learned that the riches of Christ (through the finished work of the cross) are in our spiritual “bank account” already. We just have to “cash it” by faith, surrendering our lives and identifying with the fact that we are in Christ, not Adam anymore. It is no longer I, but Christ living in me that lives the Christian life!
I found out that even though I surrendered to God by faith in Christ’s finished work, He is still working in me for daily surrender. (It is He who does it, not I. Knowing this now, I have such peace!) He works in our will and gives us the ability through Christ. The cross is a daily thing (Luke 9:23).
As I have learned to yield to Christ in faith–believing what He said is true–I finally have entered into a more complete “soul rest”. After about four years I must still count this true and deny myself (say no to my will) in order to let the Lord live his life through me daily.
But Christ started this amazing work when I went to the Grace Fellowship International office four years ago and signed my “death certificate” to the old life. (Dr. Solomon actually makes us sign our own death certificate!) When I admitted that I could not live the Christian life, that only Christ in me is able to do that, I prayed the “Selfer’s Prayer”.
Now my life almost seems to be too easy. Truly His yoke (Christ’s way) is easy and his burden is light! (Matt. 11:28-30). I have found that Christ is not a hard task master. He is a gentle, kind servant-leader who, like a shepherd, gently leads His people. He takes us by the hand and leads us to full deliverance (salvation). Our salvation is a person, not a method or set of rules. Full salvation is through the Lord Jesus!
There has been much to catch up on the home front since returning from the workshop, but I have been reviewing the material and have shared it with one person. I have two more volunteers eager to go through the material with me and I hope to meet with them this week. Hopefully, I will be calling you soon with an update. There are four others that I hope to be able to share with in the near future, too. Everyone I know would benefit from being exposed to and thinking through these things! The Lord continues to deepen my own understanding, experience of, and appreciation for the exchanged life that is mine through Jesus. What a wonderful Savior!
The conference and workshop were such a blessing! I’m so glad I was able to be a part of that time. The Lord used each one of you present to speak into my life in a unique and special way. You did an excellent job of teaching, mentoring and encouraging all of us. Thank you so much.
I pray all is well with each of you and your families that are associated with Grace Fellowship. You are all thought of with such fond remembrance. Your labor of love continues to bear fruit. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry to equip the body of Christ with the transforming truth of the exchanged life and to expand your reach for the furtherance of His kingdom. To the praise of His glory, always!
Deanna Bullock is a pastor’s wife, mom, and graduate of the GFI Counseling Institute.
One way she is using what she’s learned is through her blog: http://deannebullock.com/. She also has an online/telephone counseling ministry: “eCounsel Subscription Service – counseling you can receive at any time, in any place, for as long as you need it.” Her site is titled “18 Inches Down” to address the need for a head-to-heart process of appropriating Christ as Savior, Lord, and Life. God bless your ministry, Deanne!