Born in 1955, I was raised in a small blue collar town, under the strict rules and norms of a fundamental religion. Though I believe Jesus was in my heart as a child, there were no spiritual teachings to grow this relationship. Instead, I was terrified by dogmatic presentations of a wrathful, punitive God, who was anxiously waiting to throw little boys like me into the raging fires of hell. Tormented by images of hell-fire and damnation, and hunted down by faceless monsters in my nightmares, I finally caved in. Somewhere in my teens I decided to “excommunicate” myself from the church and religion altogether — Jesus and all. For many years I made my own rules and foreclosed on anything to do with God and Christianity. I was definitely “cold!”
For fifteen years I sought to find life by other means, including foreign religions — it was all an empty well. Yet in a strange, paradoxical love-hate relationship with God, I continued to hear a distant voice calling my name. But I had no idea who God was or how to reach Him. Then, at age thirty I hit the wall and experienced a massive conversion that radically changed my life. Completely broken in soul and spirit, immersed in sorrow, pain and repentance, God filled me with His Holy Spirit and blessed me with a huge gift of faith in Jesus Christ.
So extreme was my conversion that all my friends thought I had gone crazy. I tried to explain what happened, but neither they nor I knew who Jesus was, and the more I asked the more they thought I had lost my mind. Everything changed! I resigned from a lucrative electronics engineering career. I either sold, gave away or discarded everything I owned except my tenor saxophone. Even that eventually sold to pay bills while in college. Ever since that event in October 1985, I have pursued God with all my heart and soul and strength.
By age thirty-two I entered college and earned three Bachelor Degrees: Bible Studies, Journalism, and Psychology. Having abstained from all dating relationships for seven years, I met my wife Lisa in college and married shortly after graduation in 1993. Graduate school followed with a masters degree in counseling and psychotherapy. Then, after nine years in a non-profit clinical setting — earning multiple licenses and certifications; creating and directing numerous intensive therapy programs; developing funds for the agency; and nearly starving to death in the process — I was called by God to launch a private practice in February 2004.
At that time I opened my arms to God and asked for the ability to “see” into the heavenly realms, so I could effectively minister to His broken people. This has been both an awesome and terrifying experience. To actually see into the realms of evil can only be done with the power of God. Otherwise, as with the prophet Elisha before God opened his eyes, one would be overwhelmed by the magnitude of evil conspiring against our souls. As the Apostle Paul experienced: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8) God is always faithful to lift us up!
February 2012 marks my eighth year anniversary in private practice. In a parallel endeavor to professional counseling and psychotherapy, I provide spiritual coaching and prayer ministry though House of Seven Pillars. My work has included thousands of hours with survivors of childhood trauma (sexual and emotional abuse, physical violence and/or abandonment) and adults suffering with alcohol and/or sexual addictions.
My primary gift to the body of Christ is that of a teacher, with a strong prophetic capacity—including discernment, which is invaluable in the fields of ministry and counseling. As a seeker of truth, God has given me a zealous heart for His character. My soul grieves over false teachings that turn people away from the true nature of God and his Holy Spirit, or place heavy burdens of religious performance on already disheartened people. Much of my work involves untangling the lies and spiritual confusion used by Satan to enslave people in self-defeating cycles of shame, guilt and despair. Including those at the empty well — seeking comfort by means of alcohol and sexual addictions.
In addition to my profession and ministry, my wife and I home school our three children. My hobbies include mechanics, photography, gardening and writing. My current writing project is a trilogy for young readers, and the other is a memoir in the true sense of the word. In summary, I love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength. Having been cleansed and redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ enables me to serve in His kingdom — beginning in my own home and reaching out to others as He directs. This is my highest calling.
© Thomas Isaac Berscheid
May 29, 2011 all rights reserved