How Do I Help a Hurting Friend?
By Rod J. K. Wilson.
Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Baker Books, 2006, 157 pp.
Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng

Rod Wilson is the President and Professor of Counselling and Psychology of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia and he has more than twenty-five years of church and counseling experience. He is also the author and co-author of three books on counseling. This fourth book is a gift from him to church leaders and lay people who share his deep concern for helping those who are hurting.

How do you normally react when people with problems approach you for help? According to Rod, the chief tendency of helpers is to offer an immediate assessment of the problem and impose an advice or instant solution,

When someone has a struggle with self-image, we want it to disappear. If a member of our small group comes from a dysfunctional family, we want them to get past it. The fellow deacon struggling with depression produces in us a desire for the quick fix (p. 11).

The book aims to correct the inappropriate approach to helping those who are hurting. The author strongly advocates that the prior concern of the helper is to understand the problem before making decisions on the kinds of intervention to resolve the hurts,

The most important thing is for us to recognize that what people need most is understanding. While understanding always provides the foundation for other kinds of help, it is important in and of itself. Understanding is a wonderful gift to give others.

The act of understanding requires two skills. The skill of "listening" is essential to learn "how to pay careful attention-sorting the details, and shifting through the relevant and the irrelevant information" and the skill of "tuning in to understand the nature and content of the problem" (p. 16). In comparison, the skill of "listening" has received more attention and many books and resources are available to instruct the technique. The book emphasizes the need to train helpers to secure the second set of skill. In his twenty-five years of counseling, teaching, and pastoral ministry experience, he has identified five problem areas where people are hurting most in their lives and he believes that,

if you are involved in a local church, as an active member or a lay leader, it is inevitable you will cross paths with someone who is struggling with one or more of these challenges (p. 19).

The five problems presented include self-image, grief, depression, burnout and dysfunctional families (chapters 2-6). The discussion of the content in each chapter is organized under four major sections that helps to unravel the complexity of each problem to gain a better understanding of the hurt.

The section, "Definition of the problem," explains the meaning of the problem. The use of the term, "dysfunctional" to diagnose the state of a family is controversial. Rod defines "dysfunctional family" as a descriptive and not a diagnostic term. It is a term describing "a family where there is a lack of healthy functioning in ten areas" (p. 127-130). The explanation given for these areas clarifies the many aspects of the "problem." Next, the readers or helpers will seek the Scripture for a Christian view of the problem in the next section, "Understanding the problem from a biblical perspective." Following the consultation of the Authoritative Text, "What it is like to experience the problem" (Section 3) will enable the helper to empathize with the counseleeís situation. With a comprehensive understanding of the problem and need, the final section "How to help people who are experiencing the problem" contains principles for helpers to guide the counselee through the situation.

The book gives a different meaning to the word, "understand," in that it requires more than verbalizing, "I understand your problem." The real life case studies and situations presented in the book render it a useful resource for anyone interested in the ministry of being a friend to someone or people who are hurting.


Operating expenses for Aug 2006

$ 51,000

Balance in General Fund as at 1st Aug 2006

$ 17,471

Funds received to-date (22nd Aug)

$ 35,039

Balance brought forward to Sept 2006

$ 1,510

Total Budgetted Operating Expenses for Sept to Dec 2006



Balance to raise for the rest of 2006




Summary of Chapel Message on 23 Aug 2006

Benny Fang was our chapel speaker. He spoke on Herod the Great. Though Herod was not a man to emulate, there was enough that Benny has learnt and read that made him admire this half-Jew. Though disliked and distrusted by the Jews, he was careful to appease them by rebuilding the Temple which some say was probably his greatest achievement. He began this restoration project in 19 B.C. and completed it ten years later. A model of the restored Temple can be seen in the garden site of the Holyland Hotel in Jerusalem, a magnificent piece of architecture and beauty. In fact, one rabbi commented that if anyone has not seen the Temple, he has not seen a beautiful thing.

Masada was the next monument Benny highlighted. Since it was a fortress and there was nothing much built on it, he highlighted a water storage cistern near Masada dug some 10-storeys deep into the ground. It was said to be able to hold some 40,000 gallons of water. And there were ten of these cisterns!.

Caesarea Maritima was his next focus. He gave a brief history of this city and enumerated several of its engineering and architectural edifices. Among them was the dual-channel aqueduct which is still standing today. But what impressed him was Herodís rebuilding of the harbour at Caesarea Maritima. He showed a transparency of one of the ways used to build it, a method still used today.

He also mentioned Jericho in passing and ended his sharing with Herodion, a palace-fortress and the burial place for Herod.

Benny ended by reminding us that Herod was clever enough not to name any of his sites after himself except Herodion. This was to avoid over-aggrandising himself. Instead he chose to dedicate all his now famous sites to the Roman emperors. Herod, in Bennyís words, was a man bold enough to dream dreams and lived to see those dreams become reality. What he had left behind are grandiose building projects for the casual tourist to see and the serious archaeologist to study.

Chapel speaker on Sept 6 will be Dr Ng Peh Cheng.


A Lunch Hour Pronunciation Class in the CBD

Title: Sounds Good?
Lecturer: Rev Ng Seng Chuan
Dates: Sep 15, 22, 29; Oct 6, 13, 20, 27;
Nov 3, 10, 17 (10 sessions)
Time: 12.45pm to 1.30pm
Venue: Multi-purpose Room, 2nd floor
Class size: Limited strictly to 25 students
Course Fee: $125
Early Bird Offer: $95 (payment by 8th Sep 2006)
Textbook (optional): $25. Registrants can place order through BGST

For inquiry on course content,
please call Rev Ng Seng Chuan at 96521650.
To register, please come by to BGST. Registration is only confirmed upon payment of course fee before course commences.

A Blessed Birthday to ... 

Prof Teo Choo Soo 4/9
Mr Robert Ong 4/9
Mr Victor Chua 4/9
Mr Hua Chai Sing 5/9
Mr Eric Tan 5/9
Ms Choo Lee Yuen 5/9
Mr Quek Tze Ming 7/9
Dr Tan Hun Hoe 8/9
Mr Albert Cheng 8/9
Ms Hannah Ng 8/9
Ms Ang Siew Lin 9/9
Ms Margaret Lim 10/9

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