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An NCCA Certified Academic Institution

Dr. Laura Hart of Old Hickory, Tennessee, is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor–Advanced Certified and a Clinical Supervisor with the NCCA Feed My Sheep School of Counseling has been an approved NCCA Certified Academic Institution since December 11, 2009. She is also an International Representative with the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling,

After participating in an Experiencing God study by Henry Blackaby, I gained a profound insight into observing where God was already actively working in my life and desirous of aligning myself with His work. Blackaby would say, “Watch to see where God is working and join Him.” From then on, I began to make a conscious effort to attempt to recognize and discover God's workings and then join Him in His works to the best that I understood. Recognizing that I couldn't chart my own course and expect God to simply follow me, I committed to following His lead. That was back in 1990. Though I've stumbled and occasionally veered off course, the Holy Spirit consistently nudges me to refocus my eyes on God and His will.

The impact of this experience remains etched in my memory, as it led me to the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA), shortly after my encounter with Experiencing God. In 1992, I received my first credential – a Certified Temperament Counselor Certificate. At that time, I had no idea of what the future held; thoughts of establishing a counseling center or school had not even crossed my mind. I simply followed where I saw God leading. By 1994, I had earned the Master of Arts in Christian Counseling and was NCCA Licensed as a Clinical Pastoral Counselor in 1996.

While balancing the demands of raising children and managing our household, I continued to pursue my education at a leisurely pace. At the same time, I served as a volunteer counselor at my local church, at their request. It was a very large congregation, where I was offered a nice office in the evening hours. As word spread about my counseling services, demand grew, prompting me to offer sessions from my home during the day for a very small fee. I counseled at church and at home for about 5 years. I began to recognize God's prompting to establish a counseling ministry outside my home and my church.

I confess I was somewhat hesitant. While I promised to follow God's lead as I witnessed His work, I found myself at a loss on how to begin something without obvious evidence of God’s initiation or intervention in some way. This required me to place my trust in Him blindly. Despite my uncertainty, I reminded myself of God's faithfulness in the past and leaned on His promises for the future. Step by step, I began to let go of the uncertainty and allowed His plan to unfold before me, embracing the journey with faith. One of my favorite bible verses is. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, NKJV) I knew it was time to walk this out.

With a multitude of tasks and decisions ahead, I found myself dealing with the reality of choosing a name for the ministry to navigating various logistical details. My mind seemed overwhelmed and lacking inspiration for a name. However, one day the name "Feed My Sheep" suddenly flashed into my mind, seemingly out of nowhere. At first, I attempted to dismiss it because it just happened too quickly. I kept thinking I needed more time to come up with a ministry name that had a testimony behind it so I could tell others how the name came to be. Despite my attempts to conjure up something with a catchier name or phrase, “Feed My Sheep” (John 21:17), kept resurfacing in my thoughts. I continued to feel a strong tug from the Lord towards this name for the ministry. So, the decision was made. 

I located a modest 800-square-foot rental space, signed on the dotted line, and I prayed for God's provision to cover my expenses: rent, utilities, advertising, and any unforeseen costs. My greatest concern was whether I could manage my finances adequately. In the initial month, I barely covered my expenses, but broke even. However, with each passing month, I surpassed breaking even by a small margin, eventually accumulating modest savings. Before long, I found myself in a position to attend NCCA conferences without having to rely on my husband for financial support, despite his willingness to assist. 

It was during one of these conferences I attended that I became convinced to begin to operate a Certified Academic Institute (CAI). Although God had already placed it on my heart that one day I would be teaching others about the counseling ministry, I had not pursued becoming a CAI previously due to information I received from another CAI member concerning regulations. However, when I shared my interest with Reverend Steve Baran, he informed me that this regulation had been eliminated. He urged me to attend a meeting scheduled for 8 p.m. that evening, where eligible individuals interested in establishing a CAI would be enrolled. I eagerly anticipated attending the meeting that evening.

As a result, Feed My Sheep School of Counseling was established as an official Certified Academic Institute soon afterwards and we became committed to providing educational and training programs through the NCCA program. Our school is now dedicated to offering high-quality training for pastors and Christians who sense the call to Christian counseling by the Holy Spirit.

Just as when the counseling ministry began, I had no idea what the future held for the school. It was again a time to walk by faith and trust in God. Uncertain of the specific path or outcome, I knew I immensely enjoyed teaching and had a desire to equip others for their counseling ministry journey. With each step, I relied on God's guidance and provision, knowing that He would lead me in the right direction. My passion for teaching and empowering others fueled my determination to press forward. I embraced the journey with faith, trusting that God would reveal His plans for the school in His perfect timing. I made a website and soon afterwards I enrolled a handful of students through that website. I began individual work with each of them. I found complete contentment and satisfaction with this arrangement. I persisted in my educational journey until I ultimately attained a Ph.D. in Clinical Christian Psychology in 2006.

I soon began to recognize the need for more counselors grounded in Christian values, because it seemed everywhere Christians were discovering that the professionally trained Christian Counselor was more consistent with their beliefs and was able to provide biblical as well as psychological solutions, especially using the tool that our training provides, the Arno Profile System (APS). The APS is an exceptional solution to the challenging problems Christians face today. I firmly believe in the APS. To date, I have personally administered over 1800 APS assessments, excluding those conducted for students.

While driving home from the counseling ministry one day, a "for lease" sign caught my eye, and for some reason, it captivated my attention. Without hesitation, I veered off the road, parked, and dialed the number on the sign. The person on the line mentioned a key above the door and granted access. With a little effort, I managed to reach the key and entered a spacious 1500 sq. ft. area. Excitedly, I called my husband and urged him to join me and see what I had stumbled upon. Upon arrival, he immediately began envisioning the layout, including office spaces and rooms for the school. It was remarkable how he seamlessly shared in my vision, even without prior discussion. Neither of us had ever discussed the possibility of me vacating the current space or seeking a new location. Within a month, my husband had all the necessary work completed, transforming the space into a suitable location with a large teaching room, 3 nice counseling offices, a waiting area, and a break room.

Each NCCA Certified Academic Institute possesses its unique characteristics and approaches. Whether you're considering enrollment or have already embarked on this journey, it's important to recognize the diversity among CAIs. We are all unique, and our differences are what make us special. At Feed My Sheep, our primary objective is to ensure that every student receives the necessary guidance, instruction, and mentorship they deserve. I am deeply committed to addressing each student's individual needs. It's imperative that our training equips students with a clear understanding of their strengths, legal limitations, and ethical responsibilities before they enter the counseling field. I do place emphasis on ethics and legal considerations, as I do not want to send out a counselor to the mission field unprepared.   

I attempt to adopt an environment where personalized attention becomes paramount in our institute. Each student is unique and providing them with tailored guidance ensures their growth and development. Through one-on-one interactions and dedicated mentorship, we strive to nurture their skills, knowledge, and confidence, preparing them to make a meaningful impact in the field of pastoral counseling. At Feed My Sheep, we recognize the importance of investing in our students' success, guiding them with integrity and care every step of the way. All purposes and visions are grounded in our trust in God's guidance. 

Throughout the years, the significance behind the name "Feed My Sheep" became increasingly clear. It wasn't just about healing hearts and restoring lives, but also about nurturing pastoral counselors and developing their growth as disciples. This dual mission became the cornerstone of our ministry, guiding us as we seek to fulfill God's calling in our lives and in the lives of those we serve. Regardless of whether there's one student or ten enrolled at any given time, each individual holds paramount significance at our school.

A surprising revelation emerged from my interactions with students in the classroom. I developed a growing desire to invite some of them to join Feed My Sheep Counseling Ministries. This possibility had not crossed my mind when the school first opened its doors. However, as I engaged with these individuals, I discovered a group of exceptional, God-fearing pastoral counselors who share a deep love for the Lord and a passion for serving others. They embody the values of integrity and compassion that are central to our ministry's mission. As a result, our Christian counseling center has now made it a primary objective to offer a place of ministry for pastoral counselors who complete our training program, align with our ministry's values and mission, express a calling to full-time ministry, and demonstrate a servant's heart. 

Today, our counseling ministry hosts three such NCCA pastoral counselors who received their training through the Feed My Sheep School of Counseling. Each counselor brings their unique approach and expertise to our practice, ensuring diverse perspectives and methods are available to those we serve. While our counseling styles may vary, we are unified in our commitment to utilizing the Arno Profile System and viewing every appointment scheduled with any one of us through our website as a divine appointment planned by God. With room for additional pastoral counselors, we eagerly await the Lord's guidance in bringing these individuals to join our ministry.

As you look around to discern where God is at work, understand that it's not merely a one-time decision to align yourself with God, find where He is at work and then join Him. Rather, it's a lifelong commitment to identifying His movements and consistently partnering with Him in His works. This ongoing commitment advances the kingdom of God while also bringing blessings into your own life journey.

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