To know your Bible is one thing – a very important one at that. To apply it in your daily life is another matter. But for church leaders to give biblical counselling to other people – individuals, couples and families – can be very difficult and requires specialised knowledge and wisdom. Above all, a biblical counsellor must firmly believe that God alone brings change in the hearts and lives of counselees.
Prof Buys taught the students the basic guidelines for counselling, how to build trust and give hope, how to understand counselees and to place them before God and how to help them plan for change. Topics discussed in class included counselling for marriage and the family, trauma, HIV/Aids, processing bereavement and grief, witchcraft, ancestor spirits and demon possession.
In all this, it was made very clear that a counsellor must to know that he or she may plant and water as God’s fellow worker, but that God gives the growth (1 Cor 3:5-9). There is no substitute for prayerful devotion to God in the counsellor’s character and conduct. God must be the mainspring of the counsellor’s effort, the fountain and crown of all the counsellor’s endeavours.
At the end of a week of concentrated, all-day lecturing, and after many lively discussions, the students will hand in an assignment on a real-life challenge that describes the approach they would follow to restore a counselee to a life that pleases the Lord.