Celebrating 50 years of God's faithfulness
In the winter of 1968, I was a freshman in college, wondering whether to major in physics or Chinese history. I thought Christianity was shallow and irrelevant to what life is really about. The Vietnam War was on everyone’s mind. I read Lord of the Rings during reading week to distract myself from studying for final exams. In other words, I was an 18 year old. A few things have changed in the intervening years!
Also that winter, CCEF was founded in a little church near Philadelphia. It operated every Monday. Several pastors counseled in the church classrooms, and then discussed cases with a group of students. The premise was radical: Christian faith is deep, and directly relevant to what life is really about. The implications for counseling still had to be figured out. There were no articles, no books, no conferences, and no degree programs. A few things have changed in the intervening years!
John Bettler, CCEF’s first director and the pastor of that little church near Philadelphia, used to have a calligraphy of Isaiah 50:4 on the mantle over the fireplace in his office. It expressed our foundational aspiration:
The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
This does not change, however many years intervene. Over the course of 50 years, the Lord has sustained our ministry through his words and his Spirit. As we have grown and changed, God has continued to give us the privilege of sustaining others in their need.
I also see the Lord’s sustaining grace as the thread of faithfulness in my own life. I came to faith in 1975, just around the time CCEF’s building was purchased. Four short weeks later, I sat in on a CCEF class as a visitor. Five years later I began working here, and I’ve never left. In God’s lovely providence, my life work has ended up majoring in the depth and relevance of Scripture for what life is really about.
As we celebrate CCEF’s 50th anniversary, we want to take time to look back on our founding vision to see how the seeds God planted have borne fruit. We will also look at what is happening now with an eye to the future. I want you who care about biblical counseling to see God’s hand at work. The Lord has been faithful, he is faithful, and he will be faithful. It truly is “fifty years, and counting.”
I trust that you will be informed and encouraged over the coming months. I hope that you will be inspired, and that Isaiah 50:4 will live within your heart. As you ponder what the Lord is doing here, I invite you to prayerfully consider how you can be involved and how you can help. We depend on the prayers, participation, and generosity of men and women who share this vision.
Thank you so much,
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Celebrating 50 years
I would be remiss if I did not remember and thank the many men and women who have given of themselves and used their gifts here since 1968. These men and women—counselees, counselors, faculty, staff, students, donors, readers, board members—created our past and continue to make us what we are today. You, the readers of this magazine, are foundational to our work. A better way to put it is, what we do with you. Our mission is fulfilled when Christians have wise conversations about things that really matter, with the Lord and with one another.
On behalf of everyone who has, who is, and who will serve the Lord through the ministry of CCEF, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. May Jesus Christ be praised!
David Powlison, Executive Director