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Personal Providence

God's Use of Jay Adams in My Life and Ministry

God, by His providence, used Jay Adams to set the course of Howard Eyrich's life and ministry.

Feb 9, 2021

Life Context

I was raised by a godly mother who lost seven of her eight children. My Dad was not anti-God, but he was seldom a pew dweller. Yet, he did set an example of being a faithful husband-provider who modeled a work ethic. Unfortunately, I was the typical wild teenager of my generation until the Lord arrested my attention at seventeen. Hence, I came into the church with multiple issues. The Lord provided a young married couple as mentors who guided me to Bob Jones University. Upon graduation, I pursued a BD followed by a ThM from exceptional seminaries.

Spiritual Frustration

Between college and seminary, the Lord graciously gave me Pam, my wonderful wife of 58 years. Together we did youth ministries all throughout graduate school days. There were many opportunities to counsel and much frustration with my inability to help. The simplistic answers of college and seminary knowledge frequently did not affect the desired change. After two years on a church staff working with high school and college/career young people, I was offered the position of Dean of Men at Lancaster Bible College. This assignment escalated the awareness of my inadequacy to help students implement the theology I believed would address their life issues.

Educational Frustration

This led me to do graduate work in philosophy, which ended quickly with a senseless course in the Philosophy of Ethics. The same simplistic answers dominated the landscape of the Bible college, which produced students wandering into my office with confused lives—lots of knowledge with little understanding of how to implement it. I was not much help. My answer to this dilemma was to seek an MA in counseling at a local university, compliments of my Bible college employer.

After successfully completing the first three courses, I knew there had to be a better way. Everything I learned that summer, when put through my theological sieve, ran out on the ground. I shared my conclusion with a friend who said, “You need to read this new book, Competent to Counsel.” I did in two days. I threw it on the kitchen table, and said to Pam, “That man has worked out the conclusions that I have been noodling for some time. I want to study with him.” A year and a half later that opportunity arose, and the course of my life and ministry was set.

The Providence of God

It was God’s providence that I tried philosophy and gained a good understanding of man’s invented narratives (2 Timothy 4:3-4) to explain existence without reference to God. It was God’s providence that I tried counseling psychology and gained an understanding of the invented narratives to explain anthropology without reference to God. It was God’s providence that I shared my frustrations with the friend who recommended Competent to Counsel. It was God’s providence that so arranged my schedule enabling me to accept the offer to attend the CCEF training program under Jay Adams in fall of 1971.

It was the providence of God that a couple was running late to their counseling appointment with Jay. I was an observer in their case. It was the providence of God that I took advantage of that occasion to ask Jay, “If I take this training program again, would you allow me to counsel while you sit in the observer’s seat and coach me as needed?” It was the providence of God that Jay agreed and became my personal mentor.

About a year later through several unusual sets of providential circumstances, I accepted the offer to join the staff of CCEF where I taught and counseled side-by-side with Jay Adams. During those years, every Monday and Thursday we had a class of twelve trainees. Each day from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. we all sat around a conference table to discuss the cases of the day—a most wonderful teaching and learning experience for counselors and trainees.

A Life and Ministry Redirected

My wife has often said, “His going into the biblical counseling ministry has been great for us.” She is right. It has been great for our marriage, our family, our ministry, and our ability to glorify God. The Great Shepherd of the sheep by His providence led me into the care and tutelage of Dr. Jay Adams, who taught me how to implement in daily living the glorious, simple, and sometimes complex theology of the Gospel by which the Holy Spirit, working through human instruments, transforms confused, malformed, hurting hearts into obedient disciples of Jesus Christ. Through some thirty thousand hours of counseling and forty plus years of teaching and training others, I have the privilege of honoring Jay Adams. In God’s providence, he set the course of my life and ministry. He was God’s servant who practiced well 2 Timothy 2:2.