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A Conversation With Stephen Ministries' Founder Dr. Ken Haugk

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2019 12:30 am

A Conversation With Stephen Ministries' Founder Dr. Ken Haugk

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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May 8, 2019 12:30 am

Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and pastor, is founder and Executive Director of Stephen Ministries. He is the author of Journeying through Grief, Christian Caregiving—a Way of Life, Cancer—Now What?, and many other books and courses in the areas of caring and relating, assertiveness, spiritual gifts, conflict resolution, and leadership. He received the National Samaritan Award from the Samaritan Institute for the significant contributions he has made to field of caring ministry. His ministry took on deeper significance as he cared for his wife, Joan, when she had ovarian cancer.


Stephen Ministries, an international not-for-profit Christian educational organization, provides the Stephen Series system of lay caring ministry to over 13,000 congregations and other organizations in the U.S., Canada, and 29 other countries. It has developed caring and training resources on topics such as effective relating, leadership, grief, dealing with cancer, and crisis care.  

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Peter Rosenberger is host of radio program for family caregivers broadcast weekly from Nashville, TN on more than 200 stations. He has served as a caregiver for his wife Gracie, who has lived with severe disabilities for more than 30 years. His new book, 7 Caregiver Landmines and You Can Avoid Them releases nationally Fall 2018.


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Welcome back to the show for caregivers about caregivers hosted by a caregiver. I am Peter Rosenberger. This is Hope for the Caregiver. And we're so glad that you're with us.

877-655-6755. John, some years ago when Gracie took a really dark turn physically, it's, gosh, it's been about eight, nine, ten years ago. We really didn't know if she was going to make it several times.

It was pretty rough. And our pastor came to us and said, I've got a lady that I would very much like to connect with Gracie as part of our Steven Ministry program. And this woman came over to just sit with Gracie, just sit with her, just hang out, just listen to her, just love on her, just care for her.

And they have become like super dear friends. And I was so moved by the whole concept of Steven Ministry. And I want, for those who don't know what it is, I'm getting ready to introduce to you the guy that found it. I'm gonna let him tell you this, because now I think there's 13,000 churches have a Steven Ministry program in their congregation. 13,000 churches. This man was a pastor, still is, and he realized that you can't do it all by yourself. And he saw this just tremendous gifting of laypeople in the church.

He said, let's train and equip them to minister to one another, not to fix it, just to be there. And this was born. So I'm going to introduce to you right now.

His name is Dr. Kenneth Houck, and you are calling in from Missouri. And welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on. Well, thank you. It's a real pleasure. You know, I want you to know how much my family has benefited from your vision that you had way back in 1975. And you've been a tremendous blessing to my family. And now we're just meeting for the first time, and yet you've had such an impact by this woman who became so endeared to my wife. Take us back to when you started this, because the impact that you've had is almost immeasurable. It's too vast.

I couldn't even begin to grasp it. But it started off as something very small, and it always starts like most things do that have greatness. It started from this, you being aware of a pressing need.

So take us back to that for a moment. Yeah, it was the mid-1970s, and I was the pastor of a congregation. And I found out that I couldn't do it all. I remember one holy week when we had a bunch of services, and we had a bunch of people in a hospital. And I was going back and forth from the hospital to working on sermons, hospital to working on sermons. So one reason why I decided at that time to start training laypeople to do one-to-one caring is because I couldn't do it all. Another reason is that I couldn't provide the quality of care that people really needed.

I was only one person. So we trained a bunch of people to provide quality care. And then the third reason is that there are laypeople in congregations who do not need to be restricted to ushering, counting the money, or whatever. And I've done those things myself.

They're great things. But there are people in congregations who have skills or gifts and talents for one-to-one caring. And these are the people who have come forward. And you mentioned 13,000 congregations.

Yes, these are people who have come forward in those 13,000 congregations to serve as one-to-one caregivers. You know, to me, that's extraordinary. Now, why the name?

I know why, but I want to hear it from you and how you arrived on it. But tell us a little bit why you named it Stephen Ministry. Well, it comes from Acts 6 to 8. And Stephen was a New Testament person who was commissioned by the apostles to do acts of pastoral care. At that time, as the church was growing and the apostles were doing all sorts of things, they didn't have the time to do the caring that they really needed to do. So they appointed seven people. Stephen was one of them. And he did great work, not only caring, but witnessing to his faith, which is what Stephen ministers do today.

So the name for Stephen Ministry comes from Acts 6 to 8, and really the first layperson or the first deacon to be very actively involved in ministry. One of the guiding principles that you have in the training that you all provide to congregations literally around the world now is that you're not there to solve problems. That's a hard thing because it's so easy for us to sometimes see things and we say, oh, you need to do this, you need to do this.

You really put the brakes on that. Talk a little bit about that. Yeah, well, back in school, when I was being trained as a clinical psychologist, we talked a lot about active listening. And the Stephen minister is not just a passive listener who just sits there and doesn't respond, but an active listener is there, sometimes leans forward in his or her chair.

This is a person who asks good questions, who says at various times, tell me more, or I'd like to hear more about that. A Stephen minister gets people to tell them their stories, which is extremely healing. What do you, when you do this training for folks, and I was reading or I was listening to the interview you did about some of the first training you did, and you looked at the people that showed up, these were not people that had seminary backgrounds or anything like that. What was the makeup of that? Talk about the makeup of that first group. The first group, there was a homemaker in there that was a business executive. There was a seminary professor, as a matter of fact, who was in that group. His wife was in there, an insurance salesman, just a variety of people in that group. But I think the key to this is that they just weren't put into services caring.

They were trained first. And I got that idea from studying what had gone on in the church, and there was a little bit of stuff going on at that time, but also in the secular environment, the National Institute of Mental Health and various secular areas, that they were training paraprofessional caregivers. So I had the church influencing me from one side and my profession as a psychologist influencing me from the other side, and these came together at a kind of a flashpoint to then to give birth to the Stephen series. You know, one of the things we say to fellow caregivers on this show is that we drink as we pour to make sure that we're not becoming depleted. But it seems like as I was doing more and more research and delving deeper into what you are about, and what Stephen Ministries is all about, is that you guys pour as you drink.

And I love that about it because you're not... I remember one time, and I gotta be careful how I say this, but I remember one time an individual was telling a friend of mine that, hey, I'm not being fed at this church. I don't feel like I'm being fed.

And that kind of rankled me. It felt like they were just going there. It was like a trough for them, and it's all about them. Whereas by engaging people in this way and teaching them an active lay ministry, which I think is really at the heart of all that we do as believers, that you are teaching people it's not just about you getting fed, it's about you ministering. And as you do that, you're able to then receive even greater to be able to give out. I mean, we never deplete the inexhaustible love and ministry of Christ in our life, and you're teaching people how to just flow in that in such a profound way. How does that resonate with you?

Yeah, pretty strongly. It was interesting when Stephen Ministries started 40 years ago. So there were Stephen Ministries who were trained. And by the way, we train trainers, that's pastors and lay leaders, how to train others to do one-to-one caregiving. So we don't really train caregivers, we train the leaders of caregivers.

But in terms of getting, let's say, benefit of that themselves, in those early years, and it still happens now, a Stephen Minister will come up to me and say, Ken, you know, I'm getting much more out of this than my care receiver is. Is that all right? I always have to say it is perfectly all right. That's a sign that you're doing it right.

Yeah, yeah. And so they get personal growth through their training, they get personal growth through their service, and then they are supervised back in the congregation, and they get personal growth when they are in their supervision group. So there is a lot. It's interesting. It is not only that Stephen Ministries are feeding care receivers, but the whole process ends up feeding the Stephen Ministers. And we did not intend it in that way.

We did not set out to do that. But that was just a wonderful byproduct that Stephen Ministers have experienced and still are experiencing. Our country's dynamics have changed. We're seeing healthcare needs on an extraordinary basis, aging needs and so forth. The reason this show exists is for the 65 million plus caregivers and growing number of people just in our country.

How are you seeing that level of need impact the work that you guys are doing? Okay, one specific is that, well, Stephen Ministers will minister to people who are grieving, who are mildly depressed, who are homebound, who are divorced and separated and so on. But one type of care receiver for Stephen Ministers is somebody who is involved in a caregiving relationship.

Caring for someone like yourself, whose spouse is disabled, but caregivers are oftentimes care receivers to Stephen Ministers and Stephen Ministers care for caregivers. I love that. And that's exactly what drew me to you all. And I want to I want to not only extol the work that you guys are doing, but I want to help people connect to it. So if a congregation is not taking advantage of this right now, what is the easiest way for them to do that right now? If a pastor is listening at this moment or a church administrator, something said, you know what, we need to be doing this at our church. And it does. You don't have to have a big church to do this.

This is, you know, it doesn't. Church size is irrelevant when it comes to this. What's the best way for them to connect with you? Well, I think they could just go on the web and get you in Stephen Ministries. And that'll take them to our website. And then they can find phone numbers. They can call us and we can send them a little packet of information about Stephen Ministry. We put it in a file folder so that when people get it, they don't have to throw it away.

They can put it in their file cabinets and and refer to it. So I would say just go and get on the web and key in Stephen Ministry or Stephen Ministries. And that's S-T-E-P-H-E-N. And they should look at our website pretty easily. Now, this is not some kind of huge financial commitment from a church or anything.

This is very affordable, very doable. You guys have this down. What can a church expect just from the process, from the moment you call to the moment where they feel like they are competently engaging in this type of ministry? How long a time frame are we looking at? Well, congregations, you know, sometimes they take a couple of years to make a decision. But we had congregations that have sent, that have called us and we sent them information and they have gotten involved the next week.

Now, that's rare. Usually it takes several months for it to go through the process. But once they get that information, it explains everything that goes on and what you need to do. We have six leaders training courses each year in various parts of the country. So then a congregation will elect some people, usually one or two church staff, who will go and be trained as a leader in a seven-day event. And then they go back and elect and recruit and train and supervise and make assignments to a bunch of lay people who will do the caring. Well, and I only got just about a minute or two, but in the last little bit of time, on a personal note, you were the recipient of your own care that you had set in place because you've had some tragic things in your own life with your wife and so forth. How was that when that came about in your life? What was that like for you to be able to have put so much into this and then all of a sudden now it's coming back at you and caring for you through that process, you and your family?

Yeah, well, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and she lived for three and a half years and then she died. And during that time, I was her primary caregiver. And I remember right at the beginning, when she was diagnosed, I had a secret minister and I was able to talk with a secret minister about that. And it sure was helpful just to get those feelings out and have somebody listen to me. You know, as a as a caregiver for three decades, myself now, people, I think sometimes people think that, well, we've got it all, you know, you created this program, so therefore you're the expert on it.

And I've got a radio show and they forget that we need this ourselves. The reason we say these things and do these things is because we're also preaching to ourselves. One of my favorite scriptures is David at Ziklag when he strengthened himself in the Lord, but we need this coming back on us. And I think that that had to have been deeply moving for you to have a Stephen minister come alongside you during that time. Yeah, very, very moving. Very, very moving. And what's also really, really cool is that when a number of my friends have had situations, I find Stephen ministers for my friends here in St. Louis.

And it was very gratifying personally to me. Yes, definitely. Well, listen, Dr. Kinhauk, he is the founder and executive director of Stephen Ministries, If you think this is something your church needs to be a part of, please go out there right now and get involved. These people are ready to help you start ministering to the people in your church who are overwhelmed and your community who are overwhelmed.

I've been the recipient of this in my own family. I love what they do. Dr. Hauk, thank you for joining us. I really do appreciate it. Hey, thank you. All right, listen, this is hope for the caregiver.

We've got more to come. Don't go away. We are so glad that you're here. If you want to be on the show, the number is 877-655-6755.

We'll be right back. Here's some great news. If you missed the deadline to sign up for health insurance, or if you signed up for a plan you're not happy with, you still have a choice. MediShare is a healthcare sharing program.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians are part of this. It can save you a lot. Typical savings for a family is about five hundred bucks a month. You can join MediShare anytime. It's easy to call and look into it.

There's no pressure at all. And man, what a difference it can make. 855-25-SHARE.

That's 855-25-SHARE. Have you ever struggled to trust God when lousy things happen to you? I'm Gracie Rosenberger, and in 1983, I experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated. I questioned why God allowed something so brutal to happen to me.

But over time, my questions changed, and I discovered courage to trust God. That understanding, along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs, led me to establish Standing With Hope. For more than a dozen years, we've been working with the government of Ghana and West Africa, equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people. On a regular basis, we purchase and ship equipment and supplies.

And with the help of inmates in a Tennessee prison, we also recycle parts from donated limbs. All of this is to point others to Christ, the source of my hope and strength. Please visit to learn more and participate in lifting others up. That's I'm Gracie, and I am standing with hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-22 08:01:41 / 2024-01-22 08:08:31 / 7

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