JoAnne E. Billison – 2009 MDiv Seminary Graduate
I came into the kingdom of God married and a mother of two. My salvation was the greatest moment of my life and I passionately pursued a relationship with Jesus. I couldn’t get enough of Him. It wasn’t long after I came to Christ that I hungered for more scriptural training and education, so I enrolled at Multnomah Seminary.
A Creative Balancing Act
I treasure my Multnomah Seminary days, but they were not all rosy. I had to balance school obligations with wife and mother obligations. Some of the more difficult days left me feeling as though I were standing on a ball with one foot in the air while juggling a variety of personal issues. One time, I was so overwhelmed that I thought about quitting seminary altogether. I had no idea what I would do with my MDiv degree anyway. Fortunately, God very gracefully eased my anxieties and impressed upon me the need to stay the course and complete my degree. I am so glad that I pushed through all the difficulties, because everything I learned at Multnomah filled my heart with so much love and gratitude for our magnificent Lord. As it turned out, my endurance and education became the foundation for a ministry I had no idea God was preparing for me, a ministry that took shape during my internship years.
The Fruit of Endurance
My internship involved counseling women, and it wasn’t long before I was inundated with requests from women in need. After seeing this great need in my church I asked my pastor if I could develop a class combining counseling with discipleship. With his approval, my “Walk Free” class was born.
By “walking through” my own difficulties and studying the Bible, I discovered that our troubles in life stem from a combination of emotional and spiritual brokenness issues. So I put together a few lessons that I learned from my studies of Scripture, theology and counseling, creating a class that examines many of these brokenness issues. I teach how to confront the issue so God can heal the heart. Scripture is used to reveal truth and educate individuals moving them into a deeper spiritual relationship with Christ.
Now 5 years later, I am teaching the class to both men and women. Word of mouth has spread, opening a door for people from other churches to attend these classes as well. I feel so privileged to be a part of what God is doing in the hearts of so many individuals. It all fell into place because I willingly endured some very difficult years while attending seminary. James says it best when he tells us to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, because in the end they produce a much richer faith (James 1:2-4). I heartily agree.
About the Author
JoAnne lives in Vancouver, Washington with her husband and two sons. She has a growing teaching and speaking ministry. She loves to help people build intimacy with God so they can maneuver the difficulties of life in faith. With great joy, she completed her first book, Walk Free: An Uncommon Cure for the Common Heart, developed from her Walk Free class. To learn more about JoAnne, visit her website.