It is our goal to truly help people resolve conflicts and live the life God intended them to live. We value our counselees’ input on their experience with IBCC so that we know how effectively we are serving them. Here is what some of our counselees have said about their experience:
Over the years, IBCC has enjoyed counseling those on the mission field. Recently we had the privilege of serving a missionary couple who work as Bible translators in Papua New Guinea.
God led us to IBCC by an internet search. We were looking for places in Indiana that might be helpful not just with counseling but with a biblical perspective—and IBCC seemed to fit.
In Papua New Guinea, our family was experiencing a lot of trauma when lots of petty crime and more serious crime started up where we were living. It got too much for me and wore me down to the point where things from my early childhood crept up and completely incapacitated me. We knew we had to leave the field and get some help because there’s no [counseling] help in Papua New Guinea.
The issues that needed to be addressed were the results of early childhood trauma. I had some memories of really bad stuff happening to me as a young child. I needed to be taught how to walk through those memories as they crept up and be given the tools to walk through the memories, experience them, and get healing when I came out on the other side. Rev. Jeff really helped with that. It was like when walking through the memories it was Jesus who was leading the way and then Jeff was helping.
The thing that came through strongly in all of the sessions is summed up in Psalm 27:3, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” That has really made an impact on me because…He’s going to wipe every tear from our eyes, but heaven is a very long way away right now. I now have hope that I will see the good of the Lord in the land of the living before I go to heaven.
While I haven’t actually finished going through the memories, I’ve become equipped to deal with them. Now, instead of being overwhelmed, I’m actually able, with Christ, to deal with them and find healing through Him. This means we can now return to the mission field.
Embracing My True Identity
I came to the Lord when I was 4 years old. At that age I couldn’t understand how a man’s death and the shedding of his blood helped me to be right with God. I didn’t understand it at all, but I believed it anyway. Yet believing God’s remedy did not make it true. His remedy already was true simply because God said it. But believing opened the door, giving me personal access. The believing is what made it meaningful and productive in my life, because the decision to believe aligned my will with the truth. So I didn’t DO anything to be free from the penalty of sin. I simply entered in through believing that the work was DONE. Even though I didn’t understand how it could be, at 4 years old I simply believed God that He had made it possible for me to be right with Him.
But at the very moment I become free from the penalty of sin, I also become free of its power over my performance. Yet I was not aware at that age that my freedom from sin’s power would not be meaningful in my life unless I entered into it through believing. Again, it’s all about believing. There isn’t anything that I can DO to be free from the power of sin. It’s already been DONE. So I literally own this freedom from the power of sin, but I cannot have access to it unless I enter into it the same way – through simply believing what God has said. I see it not so much as a positional truth, but as a present reality.
Doing right must grow out of believing right. For this reason we need to be less focused on doing right, and more concerned about believing right. However, because we are naturally performance-driven, we tend to base our spiritual growth on the practical sections of scripture that tells us how to behave instead of first engrafting the doctrinal sections that tell us what to believe. There is a reason that the doctrinal sections come first. But even as we read and apply the practical sections, if the effort flows out of a preoccupation with our performance and not out of a Christ-focus, it is worth little. Our focus should be, singularly, looking into the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, believing what He says is true (even if it’s beyond the scope of our understanding) and then believing that His life will energize our work. It is not possible to advance toward Christ while focusing on our performance. On the other hand it IS indeed possible to apply thee practical sections of scripture through looking into the face of Jesus. But the process begins by believing what God says is true.
And what He says is that I am alive to Christ and dead to sin. It is completely true, and there is nothing I can do to make it more true. I can, however, make it more meaningful and productive by choosing to believe it. This is reinforced as I continually remind myself of the meaning and value of my identity. The more I reaffirm the truth, the more my behavior will begin to reflect it. So I need to exhort myself and others in the same manner that Paul exhorted the Romans: “Don’t you know that when you were baptized into Jesus Christ, you were baptized into His death? Don’t you know that you have been united with Christ both in His death and resurrection? Don’t you know that your old man is dead and that you have been raised in newness of life.” I must continue this barrage until I am able to answer, “Yes I do know-I am a new person in Christ, and by God’s grace I will live accordingly.”
I am now a little over 50 years old. I must truthfully say that there have been seasons in past months that I didn’t even want to live anymore. I was discouraged, but I was learning that the answer was bot in trying harder or just making myself do the right thing. I now understand that this situation existed not because I wasn’t doing right, but because I wasn’t believing right. The believing right must take the lead, because it is the only response that pleases God (Heb 11:6). For years I have acknowledged my “sainthood” in my mind without actually embracing it in my spirit. But one year ago I made a simple life-changing decision to believe that my true identity flows from Christ and not from my performance. I then began to daily embrace the truth that I am the righteousness of God in Christ declared into existence “out of nothing,” and I quit the practice of simply giving it lip service.
Did it make any difference in my life? Let’s just say that for 50 years I lived one way, and now I live another way simply because I am now believing what was true all along. The believing doesn’t make it true for me, but it does make it productive and meaningful in my life.
But someone might come to me and say, “Dan, I saw you sin last week.” Unfortunately I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. The difference is that now I know that the existence of sin has no effect on my identity. Before this watershed, the existence of sin would have devastated me because the identity that I embraced flowed from my performance. I now know that my true identity is not tied to my performance. Yet as I continue to embrace my true identity in Christ, my performance will naturally fall in line as if it were a fruit that naturally grows from a life-giving vine.
Guilt and fear are great motivators. Guilt focuses on the past and fear focuses on the future. Yet why should we motive by guilt when “There is therefore now no condemnation”? And how can we motivate by fear when “God has not given us the spirit of fear”? God’s method of motivating us to godliness is based on our present identity in Christ with al of its benefits. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. Beloved now are we the sons of God…And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.”
For many believers, the concept of being “in Christ” is simply a curious idea portrayed as a positional truth that will some day in the sweet by and by have a substantial bearing on our existence. So it is not meaningful. But God would have us embrace His words as being true right now. He wants us to embrace the truth in our spirit, not merely acknowledge it in our mind. I find then that whenever I begin to question the truth and value of the finished work of Christ in regard to my daily life, the ensuing struggle becomes a futile attempt at self-improvement framed around trying to become someone that I already am. That struggle is not necessary. I am right now the righteousness of God in Christ declared into existence “out of nothing” through His spoken word. God has finally brought me to the end of my resources so that I can discover His.
I came to IBCC because I was struggling with anger. Little did I realize how great my need for counseling was!
Jeff Pokone got to the source of my problem, helping me to see that anger was the outward result of unresolved woundedness in my relationship with my father, which, in turn, was affecting my relationship with my Heavenly Father, my wife, and my daughter. He addressed my need by helping me to identify areas of hurt and unforgiveness in my relationship with my father and demonic strongholds of thinking I had believed. Furthermore, he addressed my need for reconciliation with my wife and daughter, and explained to me how to walk in freedom and deliverance.
Since receiving counseling, I have learned to manage my anger. My relationship with my wife, my daughter, and my father have greatly improved. I have also been able to help others in spiritual need.
Tracing Marriage Conflicts to Unresolved Childhood Wounds
Our need was great! We were close to divorce, except that, because of our faith, we knew this was not an option. I came to IBCC with my husband, thinking we came to fix him, but only to find out that it was I who needed fixing.
Having been adopted, I struggled with feelings of abandonment. I also came to realize I had built “walls” around my heart that I was not even aware of. These “walls” hindered my relationship with my husband.
God has brought me to freedom. I have come to realize that the people who love me will let me down. But Jesus will never let me down. He will always allow me to “crawl up in His lap and get the comfort that I need.”
Finding Freedom from Past Abuse
Raised in an ungodly home filled with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, working sixty hours a week, helping aging and ill parents, losing control of my children, facing a past that was catching up with me quickly, and fearing that I had committed the unpardonable sin, put me in a psychiatric ward for thirty day stints twice. There, I was heavily drugged for severe depression and given ECT treatments. I had even tried to commit suicide.
It was at this low time in my life when I received Christ into my life and was introduced to Rev. Jeff Pokone.
Rev. Pokone helped me resolve my feelings about the unforgivable sin, negativity, control, shame from past abuse, anger, fear, and the humiliation of attempted suicide. He also helped me identify through Scripture the lies that Satan had used to control my past life and feelings. He helped me understand the difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-22). By personalizing Ephesians 1:3-13, Rev. Pokone also helped me to find my identity in the Lord.
At present, I have reduced my intake of OCD medication by half and my depression medication by three quarters! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
A Marriage Restored
The following is a testimony by a couple from Illinois who shared at an IBCC Fall Praise Banquet. Plain text = his story, Italics = her story.
My life began with rejection, which would define me for the next 48 years. I was given up for adoption by a mother who already had two boys and could not afford another child. The parents who then adopted me would one day admit—in a moment of typical parental frustration—that they wish they hadn’t. This was a heart-crushing stamp of rejection to a child. My military father was rarely present, and when he was, he was frequently angry and verbally abusive. I was made to feel stupid and ugly and could never perform well enough. With all this, the desperate need to please to feel love and acceptance took root.
There was no physical affection in my home growing up. I don’t remember my parents ever hugging me or saying they loved me. This impacted me as a young child, creating a deep soul wound, and I built up walls around my heart to protect myself. I was not taught healthy bonding skills from my family. My need for love and acceptance was so great that it began consuming my life, turning me down the road which would lead to sexual addiction.
At the age of 15, a boy at school asked me out, and I begged my parents to let me go. A boy wanted to go out with ugly me! I had to go! They gave in and I went. This resulted in a date rape—my first sexual experience. I was humiliated, and my friends made it clear to me that they would never think of me the same. Subconsciously, my mind decided it must have been my fault. Satan planted the seed that my only worth and ability to get attention was to be used physically by men.
As an older teen, I was an angry young man. My dad would yell at us boys over trivial things which left me feeling degraded and devalued. I hated my dad for that and couldn’t wait to get away from him. On the outside I was pretty much an ideal Christian, but inside I had thoughts that clashed with my Christian values and secret behaviors that I didn’t want to claim as my own. My life was heading in the direction of losing control in certain areas.
My husband and I had a rocky relationship from the start. Now we know that we were two young people completely confused about our own identities and salvation. But back then we could only look to the other for fulfillment, or leave the other when we weren’t fulfilled. Our marriage was similar to our courtship, with many break-ups. The addiction and the affairs ultimately were too much, and Satan won another battle. We divorced in 2007 after twenty-seven years of insanity. We both continued in our behaviors, however, still seeking to meet needs only God could meet.
Even after I was saved in 2006, I had an issue with seeing God as my father. God was impersonal and distant in my view. I continued to counsel and look for answers in books and my relationship with God. In August 2009 I started seeing Jeff Pokone. By that time, I had been wrestling with things about myself and looking for answers for ten years. He helped to put my missing pieces together. It was refreshing that Jeff understood sexual addiction and recovery, and it gave me new hope.
Forgiving those who had hurt me was difficult. My hurt was deep, and it wasn’t easy to forgive those who had cut my heart. This was my first big issue Jeff dealt with. It was difficult to get past the anger and pain to address the real issue. Getting in touch with my feelings and thoughts was a process as we went through listing the offender/the offense/ how that made me feel, and then speaking out forgiveness. The ones that were real issues brought on deep emotional responses.
Near the end of last summer, my then ex-husband gave me Jeff’s name, and I arranged an appointment at IBCC. With Jeff’s help, I learned that the date rape was not my fault. He shared with me scripturally how I had been “defrauded” and how Satan had planted this seed. I was broken to tears, and the weight put on that 15 year-old girl was lifted from this now 48 year-old woman. I was free! Through continuing study on who I am in Christ, I now believe that I have value and worth and will never, ever be rejected by Him. My past no longer defines me. I am complete; I am free.
Jeff helped me see my primary issues—my view of God as my father and my identity in Christ. I had a wound as a child, and that wound was blocking my relationship with God and distorting my concept of God as a loving father. God has brought me through a process to help me understand that He actually loves me and always has. I was created for relationship with God. Therefore He wants to be with me. This relationship with Him is to be the most satisfying, fulfilling, and intimate relationship I will ever have.
Colossians 2:10 says, “In Him you have been made complete.” The answer for me was finding out that this is really true. All I need and all I am is in this relationship with God. With that as the focus, God has been changing me on the inside. He has been working out my character defects, changing the way I see myself and the way I think, and teaching me how to have a real relationship with Him, my wife, our kids, and others. Understanding that I am complete in Him, and that He is my father that loves me, has given me the ability to say no to my addiction. The emptiness that I was trying to fill with the addiction has been filled with God and my relationship with Him.
As I looked to God and realized that He is the one who satisfies me, I was then ready to have a healthy relationship with my wife for the first time. We remarried in the summer of 2010. With my focus on God instead of my wife or myself, I am free to be myself, to understand unconditional love, and to experience what the Bible calls a “new life in Christ.”