Healing through Horseplay!

November 24, 2011

Barbara Currence, MEd, LPC

Barbara Currence is a good person doing a good thing.   She uses horses to help people (ages 6 through adult) work through their personal problems.  What kind of problems can her approach help?





  • learn creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • develop responsibility
  • learn how to develop and maintain relationships
  • develop effective communication skills
  • discover how to deal with grief, loss and anxiety
  • learn lifeskills such as trust, leadership, and teamwork
  • develop boundaries, and discover what changes are needed
    to create healthy families and relationships

Why horses?  Here’s what she says:

Because horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Accomplishing a task involving horses creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they are stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for learning about our own world.

Check out her web site for lots of neat pictures and details like fees, location, contact information, etc.

How does it work?

Be sure to watch the video so you can get a feel for how it works.  Click here

This is an authentic approach that you can trust.   Helping through Horsing Around has received its certification through EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) which is an international organization that is very professional and ethical and requires both the licensed therapist and the equine professional to receive additional hours to remain certified in EAP (equine-assisted psychotherapy).  EAGALA’s website is linked off of our’s, and is www.eagala.org

One kid put it best,

“At school when I am doing my work, I used to get so frustrated and give up. Now I just think about how frustrated I was getting the horse to do an activity, and that I didn’t give up and it worked. I remember that at school and it helps me to know I can do my schoolwork too.”

Other approaches not working for you?  Try horsing around.  They’re good people doing a good thing.


Youth in Ukraine

November 16, 2011

I met a remarkable young man who has a passion for young people in Ukraine.  Usually we hear about people after they have achieved some significant goal.  Chris Loux’s significance is not his achievement (yet) but his relationship to the Lord.  He is a work in progress and by reading his story, you get an inspiring insight into the transforming work of the Lord in a young man’s life.  He’s an American, a Gringo, who’s been to Ukraine twice.  Now he’s got a vision that infects others.



Okay, where’s Ukraine.  Geography lesson (that I just gave myself): check out the map!



Now give his story a read . . . and consider praying for him.



Two years ago I was asked to step in, at the last minute, and lead a team overseas to Ukraine to teach English to Ukrainian youth at a summer camp in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains. I had never been overseas and I had never been on a proper mission trip before. So, at first blush, I was inclined to say, “No.” However, there was a sense of adventure and a tug upon my conscience not to pass this opportunity up. So I agreed to lead the team and start the support raising process and training with my new team. My prayer was simple, “God, if this is meant to be, you will bring everything to pass. I trust you.”

My church back home has a long-standing partnership with Josiah Venture, a missions organization concentrated in Eastern Europe whose vision is to see the youth of that post-communist region affected and transformed by the Good News that only Jesus Christ can bring to the weary, the tired, and the lost. My trip in 2010 was no exception and we continued to partner with Josiah Venture to provide them a team to teach English at one of their many summer camps.

My experience in 2010 was nothing short of a revelation. Having never been overseas to experience what life, or Christianity, is like in another culture, I was unprepared for the divine surprise and adventure that was given to me in those seventeen days. For one, even getting to our destination was an adventure; we traveled on a train for over seventeen hours from Warsaw, Poland to L’viv, Ukraine with nothing but the trust that God would provide and allow us to arrive safely in L’viv. True to form, the Lord proved to be right there alongside us as we overcame language barriers and switching trains in five minutes and the many strange and peculiar characters we encountered along the way.

Josiah Venture’s model for English Camp is to empower the local church by providing them the resources necessary to host camps throughout Eastern Europe. God’s Design Church was the name of the church that we partnered with in 2010. They are a small church out of Lutsk, Ukraine whose numbers barely crest fifty. They actually only meet once a month corporately. The rest of the time they choose to meet in each other’s homes.

My first impression of the men and women of God’s Design Church was that they acted more like a family than a church. Ironically, that is the way that God would have us relate to one another, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Throughout camp I was astonished by the love that was expressed in their interactions with each other and with us. Although an enormous language and cultural barrier threatened to divide us (only a handful of Ukrainians actually spoke English) the Lord worked to unite our hearts together in a display of Spirit-filled friendship that swooned my heart like nothing else.

I was moved so deeply by my experience in Ukraine that summer that, upon returning to America, I began praying for God to allow me to return in 2011. I believe that once you’ve tasted the sweetness of God’s fruit in foreign missions you will hunger for more. I was never convinced of the wonder of the phrase “God’s heart for the nations” until I was actually there, in another culture and another country, Read the rest of this entry »

Shaping the Destiny of Children Worldwide

September 29, 2011

Sheila Etonga is a remarkable person with an inspiring vision.  She wants to devote her life to shaping the destiny of children — orphans particularly.  In some of my other posts, (1, 2, 3, 4)I have expressed how central this care is to God’s heart.

Sheila is from Africa, Cameroon to be exact.  She is here in Dallas to get her Master’s Degree in Christian Education and to promote the work of Shaping Destiny.  Nothing half-baked about this woman of God.  Her thoughts are well worth your read.  Take a few moments to read this.  Then take a few more moments to sponsor a child.  You’ll be blessed.

“We have for once learnt to see the great events of world History from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the mal treated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled, in short from the perspective of those who suffer.  Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior.  Christians are called to compassion and action”. (Dietrich Bonheoffer 1942)

My childhood in Douala, Cameroon (Central Africa), was one characterized with the joys of a great education, great family bonds and the simplicity of a child-like existence.  I remember that during some of our Christmas celebrations we welcomed the orphans from an orphanage just a few miles away.  They spent this special day with us, a tradition that had become our way of life.  This was never done, to fulfill a call to compassion or action for the powerless and fatherless, but it was more, a natural compassion that my mother had for the least of these.

My heart now, several years later flows with this same compassion.  Compassion to change the destinies of children who have been marginalized for reasons outside of their control, children who might not get a chance to hear the gospel because in their communities they are invisible.  In this I know I have the heart of my heavenly Father (James 1:27, Isaiah 61:1-4).

It is this compassion that Shaping Destiny was birth. Shaping Destiny is a Christian Charitable organization founded to meet the needs of orphans all around the world.  Like a child who says to her father, “I am going to be a doctor one day”, we have the dream of taking care of over two million orphans in one hundred countries over the next forty years.  These dreams are lofty and bold, but so is our God.  This dream is not only ours as an organization, but one which God exemplified, when He rescued us from being orphans with no hope to adopted sons (Col 1:13, Eph 1:13).

Shaping Destiny exist as a grace arm to the orphans in any community, who are victims to the effects of HIV/AIDS, poverty, illiteracy and poor leadership.

Six years ago we began serving three children and now we serve 580 children and we just had two of our Shaping Destiny kids adopted by a lovely Christian family living in Waco, Texas.  They arrived in the United States on August 31st, 2011.  This picture shows Haly and Jude with their new family, the Leblancs in Waco.

That is why it is with great pleasure that I offer you the privilege of caring for the needs of orphans all around the world through the grace arm of Shaping Destiny.

How can you help?  Here is how,

To know more about us

Sponsoring a child/children

Find out what’s new in the Shaping Destiny world by checking our blog.

Medical students at Texas A&M join together wtih Kenneth Acha (founder and student at the time) to partner with Shaping Destiny

1/14/2013 edit — Sheila has started a blog of her own.  Check it out.  http://comfortnotes.blogspot.com/


Forgiveness — Essential to Nation Building

August 16, 2011

Can an established nation like America learn some things from a brand new nation like the Republic of South Sudan?  Can rich and comfortable people learn some things from poor people whose lives are characterized by suffering?  Can Christians who have been well-versed in the Bible learn some things from Christians who have very little awareness of the Bible?  To all of these, I say a hearty YES!  Here’s how.

Give some thought to the sacrifices involved in creating a free country.  Give further thought to the responsibilities involved in maintaining a country free.  Take a look at some pictures of South Sudan taken by the Boston Globe’s photographic blog.  They began their photo-blog with this quote:

“The world has a new nation. The Republic of South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan on July 9, ending a 50-year struggle marked by decades of civil war.”

I couldn’t help but notice the euphoria and joy that trumped their superficial poverty.  They have so little, but they have so much in their hearts.   They have a new country, but very little infrastructure.  What priorities do you give to building a strong, durable country?  This is what a new friend of mine has been doing.

I am honored to be able to call Dr. Celestin Musekura my friend and I invite you to follow his work.  He is the founder and president of A.L.A.R.M. (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries).

He started this organization in 1994 in response to a crisis of Christian leadership in Africa following the genocide in Rwanda.  He was born and raised in Rwanda and his family was touched by the genocide in that country.  So his book, “Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven” serves as a model as well as a guide.

What’s the greatest need in Africa today?   Dr. Musekura says that poor leadership is their greatest affliction. Many countries in Africa struggle under the rule of greedy and self-serving leaders, who see their positions as opportunities to amass wealth and consolidate power at any and all costs; stirring up tribal animosity, instilling fear in the masses through murder, displacement and rape; and rendering democratic processes ineffective through injustice and corruption.   I think we can learn a lot from watching how these African people free themselves from tribal factions to enjoy a higher level of unity.  Nothing can empower this kind of unity more than our unity in Christ.  When I look at the fragmented church in America, I see the need to learn from our African brothers and sisters.   Here a just a few quotes from his book that address the role of Christian forgiveness in achieving this freedom.

“We cannot simply forget.  But when our memories have become a burden, the practice of forgiveness does invite us to learn how to remember our pasts differently.” (p. 92)

“I’ll never forget sitting across from Celestin and hearing him say that his mother was being cared for by the people who killed his father.” (p.97)

“Our unity will triumph over our diversity and become the hallmark of our authenticity.” (p. 104)

ALARM is committed to equipping men and women in east and central Africa to answer the urgent call for servant leadership in the church and in hurting communities. Through a biblically sound, culturally relevant and needs-based leadership program, ALARM trains pastors, church lay leaders, women, youth, civil society leaders, local government officials, military chaplains and tribal elders in the biblical principles of servant leadership, good governance, mentorship, appreciating diversity and community initiatives. Using a ‘train the trainer’ teaching approach, ALARM is developing leaders at the heart of African communities who are equipped and empowered to effect change where it is most desperately needed. In this way, ALARM is providing essential skills and tools necessary to help move Africa from bad leadership to servant leadership; from dependency to self-sufficiency; from fatalism to aspiration; from abject poverty to abundance and economic prosperity.

To learn more about ALARM and to make a tax-deductible contribution, click on the logo above.

Suffering . . . Why, O God?

August 15, 2011

Men who are highly spiritual don’t draw much attention to themselves. They tend to be quiet and unassuming.  They rely on the Holy Spirit to get things done.  They allow other people, and particularly God, to get the glory.  Larry Waters is such a man.  He had an idea.  The idea turned into a class.  The class led to a book.  Hopefully, the book will result in many changed lives.  Why, O God? is a book about suffering.  Both Larry Waters and Roy Zuck have experienced their share of suffering.  They have pulled together a lot of contributors to produce a book worthy of our time to read.


The main thesis of the book revolves around what we believe are weaknesses in many churches, and the Christian community as a whole, concerning a proper application and biblical response to suffering and disability.

Dr. Waters was interviewed by a local Christian radio station, KCBI, recently and the full full Interview is transcribed on the Bible X blog.

Dr. Waters is presently Associate Professor of Bible Exposition, and also teaches for the World Missions and Intercultural Studies department. Before joining the faculty of Dallas Seminary he served as a missionary in the Philippines from 1973 to 1999. His worldwide ministry continues, primarily in the Philippines. He is the author of Bible and Missions curriculum for the Internet Biblical Seminary connected with BEE World, and a New Testament Survey for a large missionary organization. Larry also serves as a Member of theBibliotheca Sacra Editorial Advisory Committee.



July 19, 2011

Jeremy Ezell just moved from Dallas to Austin.  He’s an excellent counselor.  Any of you looking for a counselor in the Austin area, give him a call.  I know he’s good because I watched him grow like a weed here in Dallas.  I had the privilege of supervising him for part of his LPC license requirement.  He started a blog which I’m now following.  It’s thoughtful.  It’s well written.  Check him out.  I copped this picture from his post which wrestles with the problems that accompany our freedom of choice.  We all want freedom, but yell loudest at what we want freedom FROM.  We need to get clear on what positive goals we have in mind . . . using freedom TO.  Reminds me of the Berkeley students in the early 60’s hollering for “free speech” when it seemed to me they had plenty of freedom but not much to say.

Back to Jeremy.  He’s Jeremy the Counseling Pastor at Austin Ridge Bible Church.  You can reach him at jeremy@austinridge.org and is part of the Hyde Park Baptist Church Counseling Center

Immigration: Better Questions, Better Perspective

July 8, 2011

            I like to see people weigh in on opposite sides of a controversial issue in a way that clarifies the conflict.  That’s the way we learn.  NPR gave an example of that yesterday when they interviewed a now-famous illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Vargas, and followed it with an equally articulate opposite view from Mark Krikorian.  As I listened to each person, I could nod agreement with their points . . . each of them.  Vargas was persuasive in his plea for talented and productive people like himself to be granted permission to stay.  Krikorian was persuasive in his argument that Vargas should return to the Philippines.  Problem was that I could not agree with both people who were so opposite in their views.  So a situation like this calls for higher level questions to be raised.  That’s what I propose to do here.

For example, before you can resolve the debate, you have to come to terms with:

What is the role of the law in our land?
If the law should be enforced more strictly, how do you go about doing that?
If the law should be revised, on what basis and to what end?
How do you define an American?
What attitudes and guidelines should govern immigration today?  Their needs?  Our country’s needs?
What are the implications of granting amnesty to everyone?
What are the implications of exporting everyone who is here without documentation?
What are the implications of ignoring the whole situation or allowing it to remain in deadlock?

Now, my favorite question: Does a Christian worldview add anything to the argument?

Two recent books address immigration from a Christian world view:

       Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible, by Daniel Carroll.
(Click on the image to link to Amazon.com)


Let Them In! The Case for Open Borders, by Jason Riley





Steve Greenberg’s cartoon illustrates what happens when the debate gets politicized.

(Click on image to link to Steve’s blog)

Dr. Mike Pocock, professor of missions at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a helpful article last year in Kindred Spirit.  He proposed three important guidelines for our biblical thinking and then closed with this thought:

Whether it is hospitality to strangers (Rom. 12:13), or entertaining those who cannot repay us (Luke 14:12–14), doing good to all persons (Gal. 6:10), or considering all people equally no matter their culture or ethnicity (Col. 3:10–11), the Bible speaks to our attitude toward those of other races and cultures. We should be very careful to avoid either conventional or racist thinking. Rather we should love our neighbors as ourselves, not intellectualizing nor spiritualizing, but in concrete expression to whomever is in our community on whatever basis.

What additional questions would you ask to raise our level of thinking and clarify our perspective?