Providing Bible-based Counseling to the Messianic Community in Israel

At 97 Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem, inside the Clal building, is a former pornography shop that was purchased by King of Kings Community and transformed into a beautiful Messianic Counseling Center called the Anchor of Hope.

Open since 2013, the Anchor of Hope provides Bible based counseling, resources and training for the local Body of Messiah. Director and co-founder, Dr. Katherine Snyder, says:

We live in a broken world and we are all very broken. As we open our hearts and share our pain, then God meets us and breaks through with His care.

Katherine encourages: “We have a service directory that we sent out to all the congregations in English and Hebrew. We want to remind the pastors that if they or any of their people are struggling we are here to help.”

Recognizing the need for believers to have a safe place to come to receive God’s healing in emotional matters, the center offers counseling in major areas including Addiction, Pornography, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Family Counseling, Bereavement and Loss, Anger Management and Couple Counseling. There is also a weekly recovery group for emotional over-eaters.

Confidentiality is key and, with the exception of certain situations such as clear indication of a plan for suicide or suspected child abuse, no issue will be divulged without the client’s written permission.

Over the last two years, the center has held 533 counseling sessions. Among the clients were 51 Israelis and 22 Internationals. There is no charge for the counseling sessions, but a suggested donation ranging from NIS 50 – NIS 250, depending on income. However, if a person cannot pay anything, they can still be seen.

Dr. Katherine Snyder
Dr. Katherine Snyder

Katherine, who received her PhD in Family Therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary in California recalls: “Starting a believing counseling center in Israel was a long term dream going back to when a friend of mine had marital problems and there was no believer here she could go to for counseling. We actually heard people were leaving the country to get counseling.

“In the 90s a group of us began praying consistently every week for a counseling center in Israel. Through prayer, the idea of my getting a PhD and more clinical training came and I went to Fuller. Miraculously, someone I didn’t know paid for most of it. After graduating I went Washington DC where, among other things, I did consultant work for the government, and counseling at a psychiatric hospital. However, my dream was to come back and start a counseling center in the Land. I contacted Wayne Hilsden, then Senior Pastor of King of Kings in Jerusalem and said: ‘I think it’s time.’ Amazingly he replied: ‘Well, we have just purchased a porn shop and we want to make it a counseling center!’”

Training local counselors is an important element of the vision and mission for the center. “The need is great,” says Katherine, “and there should be enough counselors to meet that need.”

Counselor training courses are periodically run by the center and, to date, 45 people have been trained as counselors around the country. Katherine affirms: “That is a lot in a short time, but we would like more.” Lay counselors and their cases are continually supervised and supported by Katherine: “I don’t want our counselors to feel alone and burdened down by a case,” she says.

Baruch Lieberman, an Israeli lay counselor at the Jerusalem office, is a trained life coach who has taken the Anchor of Hope training course. He observes: “There are too many people with problems who don’t dare to admit it. And if they are ready to admit it and deal with this, then it is hard to find someone who can help. The main fear, especially with embarrassing issues like pornography or sexual addiction, is: ‘If you knew who I really am, you would most likely hate and reject me. Or at least misunderstand me.’ And unfortunately this fear is often correct. So many people, including leaders and pastors, live in great fear and shame. We see this need, and our goal is to provide a safe place to come and be who you are, accepted and given practical tools to help you be healed and go forward.”

Katherine adds: “First people need to be desperate and admit their vulnerability and brokeness. We all have broken parts: it is really nothing to be ashamed of; that’s humanity. We cherish people’s humanity and we know that God is very willing to meet where they hurt. But they have to come forward and tell someone.”

The Anchor of Hope also offers seminars on important topics. The next one will be a seven week facilitated DVD series from the American Association of Christian Counselors on Forgiveness: Healing Past Hurts and Pain from November 9 – December 21, 2016. This seminar will also be available through remote access. Details and registration procedure can be found on the website.

Katherine concludes: “When people get to know themselves they can know what old dynamics are governing their lives. When they come forward wonderful things happen. I always feel desperation is in relation to the healing: if people are desperate they are helped, they change. We pray for revival but revival often follows repentance. When we repent and are vulnerable, God can come in – and He is never shocked. There has to be that vulnerability and openness to change. That’s what we are here for. That’s what we want to see in the congregations. We want to see that people can be themselves, be transparent and be accepted and loved.”