For the months of February through April we’ve invited several people to give you a peek into
the new directions God has called The Barnabas Center. We hope these directions will be
encouraging and that you’ll resonate with the needs and hopes that are being shared.
In May we’ll be back online with our usual thematic blog posts.
The story of my beginning to work at The Barnabas Center in 1999 usually involves admitting to the ‘stalking’ of the Director, Palmer Trice. I had recently completed my Masters in Counseling and was looking for a job. When I came across Barnabas, they were looking for a more experienced woman counselor. However, I was convinced it was the place for me. I was drawn to the gospel approach of Barnabas: two people sitting in the counseling room both knowing their brokenness and desperately looking to Jesus to meet them. I was drawn to the relational approach of helping people apply the love of God to their lives in times of struggle and through partnering with the work of the church through counseling, small groups and teaching.
My ‘stalking’ eventually landed me a job at Barnabas. I worked in the Charlotte office for 10 years. During that time, I was blessed by seeing God work in some very hard situations in my clients’ lives and I personally grew from being in relationship with the other counselors on staff at Barnabas. I watched Barnabas have a growing impact in the Charlotte community as people became more honest about their struggles and grew in their dependence on God in the process. I loved my job and the community that developed as a result. The key piece that was missing in my life was a man to share it. In 2007 God brought a wonderful man into my life who was the perfect fit for me, except he lived in Richmond, Virginia. As we moved towards marriage, the greatest grief for both of us was that marrying would mean my leaving Charlotte and Barnabas behind.
The interesting twist to the story was that Richmond was the hometown for our Director. He came to me with great excitement and proposed the idea of beginning Barnabas Richmond. Before marrying and leaving Richmond, several of the Barnabas board members helped me create a plan to open an office in Richmond. After creating a plan, they told me to put it away, go get married and to see where God would lead me after settling in Richmond. It was only a matter of months before I knew I did not want to work anywhere other than Barnabas. I never thought of myself as the type to lead a new venture, but if that is what it took to stick with Barnabas, then I was up for the challenge.
Growing Barnabas Richmond has been an opportunity to see God go before me in remarkable ways. As soon as we announced opening the Richmond office, I had pastors seeking me out because they had heard about Barnabas and were desperately looking for more counseling options. A leadership team was immediately formed of folks that had some personal connections to Barnabas. Some had lived in Charlotte, some had come to Charlotte for Barnabas Training, and some had participated in a Barnabas Training that had been offered in Richmond years before. God had been planting seeds well before my arrival that were ready to grow.
The growth of Barnabas Richmond has been steady over the past 5 years. We have hosted well-attended Barnabas Training Basics and follow-up groups; we have a team of 3 women counselors and a fabulous administrative assistant. We have a strong partnership with over 10 churches in the area. This year Barnabas Richmond moved into a larger space that allows us to offer groups on-site and accommodate our 3 counselors with room for adding more. Over the past year we have had the privilege of speaking to gatherings at 7 different churches, hosting an open house at our new space for over 60 and hosting a lunch for 26 folks in ministry. In addition to these events, there are approximately 30 counseling appointments happening each week. The doors for new church partnerships are continuing to open. We are currently planning our first fundraising event for the fall to continue to grow our financial base in order to hire more counselors. We continue to pray that God would bring us an experienced male counselor to help us meet the needs unique to men.
When I took up ‘stalking’, I never dreamed it would land me launching a new office for Barnabas. I was not looking for this venture but it has been exciting to see how God was preparing the community of Richmond to grow in their dependence on Him through the ministry of Barnabas.
To learn more about the Vision 2020 campaign please watch this brief video:
Lisa Ould joined The Barnabas Center in 2000 and has worked with individuals, couples and families in a variety of mentoring and counseling capacities. Lisa passionately desires the church to be better equipped to care for its people. After many years of ministry in Charlotte, Lisa moved to Richmond, Va. to marry Nelson Ould, and subsequently began The Barnabas Center-Richmond in 2009.