Connections: Leah Wilson
Oct. 19, 2014
Leah Wilson serves on the counseling services staff at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. Wilson earned her undergraduate degree in counseling from Central Bible College (AG) and her master’s in professional counseling from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Wilson recently spoke with Scott Harrup, Pentecostal Evangel managing editor.
evangel: How did God lead you into your ministry?
LEAH WILSON: Counseling has been a lifelong journey. It’s also very personal, and counseling college students is a very personal calling for me. In college I went through a dark season, and it was people coming alongside me as counselors who really got me through it. College is also where God opened my eyes that He was calling me to be a counselor.
evangel: What influence did your years growing up in a missionary family have on your ministry?
WILSON: They influence everything. I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, around a lot of poverty and around people who had extreme personal issues. Those years shaped my worldview and my life.
evangel: What are some key challenges facing college students today even at a Christian university?
WILSON: A lot of students are coming from broken homes, whether divorce or abuse has been present. They have a lot of extreme fears — fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of not measuring up. Self-harm is becoming more and more prevalent, due to the way students feel about themselves.
evangel: How can difficult family dynamics affect a young person’s future?
WILSON: No matter what issue the student is facing, a lot of it traces back to their family, whether it’s abuse or divorce or some form of emotional neglect. Everything with their family affects them.
When kids get to college, it’s the first time they’ve dealt with these issues by themselves. They find themselves either drowning and not knowing how to cope, or they find themselves really at a point of wanting change. That’s where counselors are so crucial because we can come alongside and lend a helping hand.
evangel: What have you observed of the power of the gospel to redeem even the most difficult situations?
WILSON: I start each day in prayer. My education and experience will never be enough to deal with what these kids are facing. I invite the Lord into my office.
Two things have become very real to me: First, Jesus is our ever-present help. He sees where students are in their lives. Second, the Holy Spirit is our Counselor. When the Spirit is at work in our midst, the revelation, the change, the power, are so evident.
Before a student leaves, I always pray with them. In those last 5 minutes of prayer the Holy Spirit can do more than what I just said in 40 minutes.
evangel: Your own life is a wonderful example of divine intervention.
WILSON: I really felt like my life was over at the age of 18. That’s how the enemy had lied to me. God miraculously intervened in my life a year later. One day I responded to an altar call, and God delivered me from everything — everything from my anxiety to the addictions I was facing. I got up a radically changed person.
Counselors helped me learn how to live out the change that had taken place. As a counselor, I can tell students I remember feeling like I was drowning emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. I was rescued from all that and God has helped me to live out that change.
The enemy wants us to feel isolated and alone, as if we’re the only one facing an issue. Whether it’s to a friend or a counselor or a dorm director or a Chi Alpha pastor, reaching out for help can be our biggest step towards change.