When thinking about how attending Westminster Seminary California has impacted my life, many situations came to mind. Should I talk about how I learned to bring grace into raising my children? Should I discuss how I used Reformed doctrine to write a children’s curriculum at the church where my husband is the Youth and Family Pastor? Or should I write about I deal with difficult situations in my husband’s ministry? Although all of these situations are important, I decided to write about how my education at WSC, along with my biblical counseling certification through CCEF, has impacted the young women at the church we attend.
My husband is the Youth and Family Pastor at a PCA in Houston, Texas. Because he ministers to the youth of the church on a daily basis, I have been called on to minister to the young women of the church on many occasions. One such woman came to me after she was a part of a high school women’s small group I led. She struggled with panic attacks after an injury she sustained. The panic attacks were getting worse and she didn’t know how to deal with them anymore. She was at her lowest point and didn’t know who to turn to, so she came to me, begging for some relief from her constant pain and panic. Although I had never counseled someone who dealt with panic attacks, I was able to meet with her on a weekly basis and delve into the heart of where the attacks were coming from. With the training from CCEF, I learned how to talk to her and search out the sin issues in her life.
However, my training at Westminster also provided an important aspect of my counseling with this young woman. The professors at Westminster helped me to see the whole picture of the Bible. We aren’t to look at each individual book as a separate entity, given with a separate purpose. Instead, we are to look at the Bible as one story, the story of God’s interactions with man and His redemption found in Jesus. I was able to show this young woman how her story, albeit difficult at the moment, could fit into the story of God and His redemption. Even though she was suffering, God’s children are called to suffer, with the ultimate suffering found in Jesus’ life and death. Because He suffered for us, our suffering has an end date and we will one day live a life free from the pain of this world. In the meantime, while this young woman was struggling with panic attacks day in and day out, she could look to Jesus who understood her pain, who walked with her through her pain, and who would be there with her on the other side. Her pain was refining her like gold in the fire, purging the sins of her heart and making her more like Christ. Without Westminster, I wouldn’t be able to articulate such an amazing truth to someone who was desperate in her pain.
I know many people disparaged my desire to attend Westminster, especially because, as a woman, I was not going to go into the ordained ministry. Yet I have used my education every day, both in the church and outside of the church. Not a day goes by where I do not thank God for allowing me to attend such a wonderful seminary and learn such deep truths of the Bible from an amazing faculty.
Katie (Wagenmaker) Terrell graduated with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies in 2008. She married fellow WSC graduate John Terrell (MDiv '08) in 2010 and together they moved to Katy, Texas where John took a call as a Youth and Family Pastor at Christ Church PCA. They welcomed daughter Esther Ruth to their family in May of 2012 and just recently welcomed Josiah Daniel in September, 2013. When Katie's not busy chasing kids or changing diapers, she likes to help John in his ministry by counseling the young ladies of the church or writing children's ministry curriculum.
This is is the latest installment of our Wednesday series in Women & Theology. Click here to read the other articles!