Dr. Gerlin Valencia: A Heart for the Hurting

Dr. Gerlin Valencia: A Heart for the Hurting

From a law student in Ecuador to a professor in BBC's graduate Counseling Ministries program, Dr. Gerlin Valencia has experienced much in several different settings.

Originally from Esmeraldas, Ecuador, Dr. Valencia came to BBC&S in 2010 from Louisville, KY, where he studied for 10 years. He holds three advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. in Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Counseling.Dr. Gerlin Valencia

A self-proclaimed "Renaissance Man," he loves to learn. He enjoys studying in many different areas and helping others understand them. He also brings a passion for helping hurting people find hope and joy in God's grace.

Learn more about the BBC's graduate program in Counseling Ministries here.

Read more In the Spotlights here.

Insight Questions

What led you to BBC?
BBC needed a counseling professor to fill an opening. I enjoy learning and then sharing it with people in order to enhance their worldviews. In the process of teaching others, I always learn more about what I teach and about myself as a person.

Where are you from?
I am originally from Esmeraldas, Ecuador in South America. I came to the United States in 1996 as an undergrad student at Bluefield College in Bluefield, VA. I majored in Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. I had attended a university in Ecuador, where I was studying Law in order to become a diplomat. I abandoned law and came to the United States when a full-tuition scholarship was given to me by the college.

Where did you attend school?
Upon my graduation from college in 1998, I attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, where I studied for 10 years. I earned a M.Div. in Pastoral Counseling, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, in 2004, a Th.M. in the Psychology of Religion and New Testament in 2005, and a Ph.D. in Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Counseling in 2008.

What is your family background?
I come from a family of four. I was raised Catholic and contemplated becoming a Missionary Catholic priest when I was an adolescent, in order to do ministry work in Africa with people who had been affected by leprosy. I served at the main Catholic Church in my hometown as an altar-boy for nine years.

How were you led to faith in Christ?
I was led to the study of the Bible because I wanted to learn to speak the English language. I used to listen to the British Broadcasting Corporation on a daily basis during the early hours of the morning in order to learn English. Eventually, I met a man from Indiana who had been a missionary in Esmeraldas since 1953. We became friends and he gave me a Good News for Modern Man New Testament, which I carried with me everywhere I went in order to practice my English. Eventually, I taught myself English and would later teach English as a professor, translator, and bilingual operator at various companies.

Mr. Paul Erdel, the American missionary from Indiana, and I became good friends. He later invited me to attend a worship service at an evangelical church in my hometown, at the end of which I accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of my life. I was still a high school lad, but I became a disciple of Jesus Christ at the age of 15 in 1985. I was later baptized in 1990 at an English-speaking church which I attended while studying Law at the Central University of Ecuador in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I would describe myself as a Renaissance Man. I love to learn in many fields and then put it all together in one coherent whole that makes sense to others. Thus, I enjoy the most when a student gets it and wants to learn more.

How did you become interested in Counseling Ministries?
My interest in counseling is simply because I want to help people find hope and joy no matter what their upbringing, life events, trauma, or lack of resources. My life story is a story of God's gracious love and redemption and I find counseling to be the ministry the Holy Spirit uses with me to heal the souls of broken people. If God redeemed my life and made a success story when all the odds were stacked against me; I know He can use it to heal and bring hope and joy to others.

How have you been involved in Counseling Ministries?
As part of my training during graduate school, I worked as a pastoral counselor pro bono to juvenile delinquents at a community center in the inner-city of Louisville, a chaplain at the University of Louisville Hospital, a counselor supervisor to master's students at Southern Seminary, a marriage and family counselor at a local church in Louisville, a spiritual mentor/Bible study leader to married, single, and culturally diverse individuals for two and a half years, and as a graduate student grader and adjunct faculty in counseling in both English and Spanish students at Southern Seminary for six years.

What are your favorite areas of psychology? My favorite areas are those related to medical neurology and clinical neuroscience as well as forensic neuropsychiatry. In counseling, I enjoy the growth of the soul through the right understanding of the Bible and its role in the human moral development of individuals. I am enjoying the classes that I am teaching in Applications of the Bible to Counseling; Methods of Biblical Change; and Marriage and Family Counseling.

What is your view of the role of biblical counseling in the church?
I see biblical counseling as a shared ministry of the local congregation to the community at large. In my reading of the New Testament, the task of bringing the gospel of the grace of God to sinners also involves the healing ministry of the Holy Spirit through the gift of skilled and biblically based counseling. However, many churches are not equipped to aid broken souls biblically, thus the need to train men and women in the ministry of soul repair and spiritual reconciliation with God their creator, and one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why did you pursue graduate school and doctoral studies?
I am a self-styled and driven learner. I enjoy learning and spending time with individuals. I was born in poverty and without a dad, but with a mother who sacrificed many things for us children to get an education. Graduate school was a natural path for me because I enjoy reading and learning all the time and will probably continue to until the day I die.

What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing a graduate degree in Counseling?
My only advice for a prospective grad counseling student at BBC would be: "In the ministry of counseling we are wounded healers called by Jesus Christ to care where others have not, to love where others have not, to use our very lives to become a healing presence to wounded souls, and to lead people to the cross for their complete restoration. As such, we need to be dependent on the Holy Spirit's power to bring forth deliverance and on the Bible's teachings for right mind and behavior. In this ministry, the student needs humility of mind, empathy of heart, and a prayerful life of faith."

Contact info

Learn more about the BBC's graduate program in Counseling Ministries here.

Online and on-campus options are available. Financial aid can cut the cost of tuition substantially. Contact Graduate Admissions to learn more.

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Posted on: 10/18/2010 9:42:09 AM

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