The Overlooked: Ministering grace to a Broken World
Interviewed by Charlotte L. Pound, Written By Joel Wells, Titusville, FL
Bro. Wells, briefly tell us about yourself, your ministry, and where you attend church.
I have worked for the past sixteen years as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Brevard County, Florida. Prior to that, I worked for the U.S. Courts MD/FL for thirty years as a U.S. Probation Officer. I am the Deliverance Ministry Director and Mental Health Counselor at my church in Titusville, Florida. I am a “soul-winning agent” on a mission of conversion, who is using his cover as a mental health counselor to accomplish this. I attend Path Apostolic Church in Titusville, Florida, pastored by Jody Wells, my oldest son.
Historically, Apostolic pastors do their own counseling. Do you feel that this is changing?
Whether this trend is changing within Apostolic churches, I cannot say, but it needs to change. The need for professional Apostolic counselors in our churches is vital because 90% of the time, the primary counselor for the church is the pastor. Pastors are the first choice of people seeking counseling, which includes psychiatrists, therapists, and medical doctors. Secondly, many perceive mental health issues as spiritual problems. Finally, there may be no one else to turn to in a church. My pastor is among those in our ranks who agree with me. Quoting excerpts from the Forward to my book, The Overlooked, one pastor said, “If there is one thing I have learned in pastoring, it is that I need help! The sheer volume and diversity of hurting, troubled people have eliminated the jack-of-all-trades pastor…” The counselor’s ability, with the guidance of the Spirit, is to discern latent challenges and offer tools to overcome them. These have been invaluable to our church.
Are we seeing an increase in mental health problems in society, as a whole, and by extension, in Apostolic churches?
A sample of recent statistics regarding mental health problems in the U.S reveals that major depression in youth has increased 4.35% over the past six years. The number of adults experiencing a mental illness is up 1.5 million over the last year. 37% of the people in a September 2020 survey reported moderate to high levels of suicidal ideation. People seeking help with anxiety and depression have skyrocketed by 93% in 2019. Alcohol consumption among adults over age thirty is up by 14%, and up by 41% among women in the past year. In addition, since the pandemic began, there has been a significant increase in suicides, domestic violence, child molestation, and viewing of pornography, to name a few. It is naïve to think that a similar pattern in mental health issues is not prevalent in the church.
In the gospels and the book of Acts, emphasis is made on “casting out demons” in addition to healing the sick. Why don’t we see more of this activity in today’s world?
Mark 16:17 makes it abundantly clear that, as “believers,” we will cast out devils in His name. Also, Jesus said we would do greater things, but it is up to us as a church body to submit to the Holy Ghost and be His hands, His feet, and His voice to accomplish this. In chapter five of The Overlooked, I address “Deliverance.” Included is an example of a woman delivered from a suicidal spirit after a morning service, and testimonies of two Apostolic, Holy-Ghost-filled clients who desired deliverance from oppressive spirits and received it. Deliverance was then followed up with counseling to help “renew their minds” as Paul exhorted in Romans 12:2. A surprising but true fact is that receiving the Holy Ghost does not instantly heal the wounds and brokenness of the past which opened that individual up to drugs, alcohol, and oppressive spirits like depression or anxiety. Counseling is a way for this healing to take place. Deliverance is a major ministry in our church, but it begins with salvation, discipleship, and when needed, deliverance and counseling.
What, if any, illnesses are the result of demon activity?
I do not believe that most physical and emotional illnesses are caused by demons. Most are the result of sin and iniquity. To say that diabetes, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and even the coronavirus are caused by demons is careless. The same goes for mental illness. Schizophrenia, Autism, and Bipolar Disorder are among mental disorders that are likely inherited or the result of changes in brain chemistry, yet those suffering from these illnesses may be oppressed by demons due to their emotional response to their disorder. That is where deliverance and/or counseling is needed. But they may not seek this because they are afraid to divulge their pain for fear of being branded as demon-possessed or “not spiritual enough.” This is not supposition, as I have counseled church members who told me that they would never tell anyone about their issues other than their pastor or me, for fear of what people would say. A minister spoke with me after losing fifteen pounds over two weeks’ time due to anxiety, but he would not take prescribed medication because he felt that it would show a lack of faith. Michael Lyles, a Christian psychiatrist, revealed that his average patient is more comfortable asking for prayer for cancer than requesting prayer for their mental or emotional struggle.
Where can a trained, Apostolic counselor be the greatest help to hurting people?
Providing mental health and addictions counseling for individuals inside and outside the church has been my focus with the goal of helping them make it to heaven. My role is to provide them with “tools” to work with, which include Scripture, an understanding of how the brain functions, and proven therapeutic methods God has granted us to use. However, I believe the most effective role of an Apostolic mental health counselor is to join with their pastor in creating a Deliverance Ministry that empowers the saints on their pew to walk alongside hurting and broken individuals attending a church.
What is the best way for an Apostolic counselor to practice? In-person? Via FaceTime? Fly to the individuals’ locations?
I have done all of these. As a result of the pandemic, using a secure telemedicine site has become popular. Health insurance companies have encouraged this. I am utilizing this method with about one-third of my clients. Flying to a location is usually short-term and not likely to be productive unless there is follow-up.
Tell us about your book and its purpose. What topics are covered?
The Overlooked: Ministering Grace to a Broken World was inspired by Luke 14:21. It is about making the gospel available to the overlooked people in our communities who have mental health diagnoses, emotional problems, marital/family issues, and addictions. This book will equip pastors, counselors, and lay workers for the overlooked who will be the fruit of the end-time revival. Topics discussed include the church’s scorecard; demonic possession; alcohol and drug addiction; pornography and sexual addiction; cyber habits; premarital, marital, and family counseling; trauma counseling; and laity counseling.
What is the price and how can our readers order your book?
The hardcover book is available at the Pentecostal Publishing House for $15.99 and the e-book is $9.99. For more information or questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone at (321) 432-8295.