BCC Staff: As part of our BCC vision, we want to point you to the best of the best in robust, relational, biblical counseling. Periodically we’re posting (and then making available as an ongoing resource) interviews with churches, para-church groups, educational institutions, and individuals committed to biblical counseling. You can find links to all of our interviews here.
Word of Hope Ministries
Today we’re pleased to connect with Ellen Castillo, Executive Director and Biblical Counselor for Word of Hope Ministries, Inc.
BCC: “Ellen, please tell our readers about your mission and vision.”
EC: “Word Of Hope Ministries, Inc., is a California non-profit discipleship organization that provides biblical counseling locally and online, biblical counselor training locally, and biblical mentor training locally and online. We also provide resources and support for those involved in various types of one-another ministries. We believe that the Bible speaks to whatever problem anyone may have.
Our Mission is:
Word of Hope Ministries assists people who are facing life’s struggles. This is accomplished by using Christian principles to counsel individuals and families in need and by training others to competently counsel and mentor in their local churches.
Our Vision is:
To expand Word of Hope Ministries to its potential capacity in order to fulfill our mission to meet counseling, mentoring, and training needs locally and globally.”
BCC: “What are the primary services/ministries that you offer? Who is your primary audience?”
EC: “Currently we offer biblical counseling in our community for all ages, but we have a special emphasis on young adults and teenagers. We also have the capacity to counsel via technology for those who are not able to get to us in person.
What makes Word of Hope Ministries unique is our passion for intergenerational ministry. Because of this we offer Biblical Mentor Training for women both locally and online. We train and equip women to help other women and girls in their sphere of influence. We offer a training that is less in depth than biblical counselor training, but more in depth than other mentoring resources currently on the market. Our training includes an emphasis on utilizing biblical counseling tools and concepts, and also teaches women to know if/when to refer their mentees for more formal biblical counseling with a certified counselor.”
BCC: “What is the history of your ministry/organization? Tell us your story.”
EC: “I (Ellen Castillo) first learned about biblical counseling a decade ago when I was trained as a leader in a ministry that offered a Bible Study for women who needed help with dealing with their past. I led many women through that study in my church, but felt that I was too limited by the constraints of a 12 week study because some women needed more intensive help. I wanted to offer that intensive kind of help.
I began to research biblical counseling training organizations, and signed up to do the training and certification with the IABC. Because of my prior background as an Occupational Therapist in psychiatric hospitals, I already had quite a bit of expertise in dealing with all kinds of counseling needs that people have, but my worldview then held to a secular idea that humanistic psychology held the answers to life’s problems. The training in biblical counseling drastically changed that worldview. Being a biblical counselor has allowed me to use that prior experience along with the biblical worldview that I currently hold in order to disciple people Biblically.
Initially I took the training not knowing what the Lord might do with it. I was willing to perhaps counsel a woman or two in my church at any given time, as a ministry to the church. I began counseling one woman who told a friend, who told another friend, and very quickly I had a very full counseling load. I counseled in my local church as a church ministry for a few years until I was unable to maintain the ministry as a full-time volunteer. At that point we pulled the ministry out of the church, and began Word of Hope Ministries in a para-church non-profit format.
In the past year, I have been blessed to see the Lord bring a team of people to the ministry so that it is no longer just one woman providing ministry. A Board of Directors and volunteer staff have come onboard to join our mission with the vision of expanding the ministry to help hurting people everywhere. We have been encouraged by recent opportunities such as participating in biblical counseling conferences, training others as mentors and counselors, and various projects that we believe will fulfill our mission beyond what could be done with just one counselor.”
BCC: “What is your succinct definition of biblical counseling?”
EC: “Biblical Counseling is gracious one-another ministry based on the sufficiency of Scripture to address both sin and suffering. The goal is transformation towards Christ-likeness as the counselor teaches the practical application of the Gospel and God’s Word to promote change at the heart level.”
BCC: “Ellen, could you share a little bit about your staff—who works with you and in what roles?”
EC: “I, Ellen, am the sole day-to-day operator of Word of Hope Ministries at this time. As more men and women become trained, we plan to bring on board other counselors (including male counselors) so that the ministry can reach its vision. Biblical counselors are uncommon in our local area, and the need is great. We have a variety of volunteers who help with marketing, editing, and other administrative tasks from time to time. We hope that as the Lord provides financially we can add more staff in order to meet our growing needs.”
BCC: “What are the types of resources (books, pamphlets, audio/video, book reviews, articles, journals, blogs) that people can find at your site/through your ministry?”
EC: “Our websites are:
They are designed to point people to resources as they seek foundational solutions for the difficulties in their lives. The sites promote original topics and media that are engaging, helpful, and focused on the difficulties that we all experience in everyday life.
Currently we have books about biblical mentoring that can be accessed on our websites. We also maintain a blog and an occasional guest-blogger spot on the Biblical Mentoring for Women blog.”
BCC: “What upcoming conferences, seminars, classes, and other training opportunities do you have in the next year? Which ones do you repeat each year as annual events?”
EC: “Locally, this fall we will begin to offer counselor training utilizing the training video course from the IBCD. We are excited about the potential of adding male counselors to our ministry as a result of this training, and including more trained men and women in the future. We are also in the planning stages of a potential “Word of Hope Women’s Conference” that will further promote the ministry of biblical counseling here on the Central Coast of California.
We are also planning to revamp the online portion of our Biblical Mentor training to include higher quality videos that contain the teaching that compliments our training workbook called Life on Life, Applying the One-Anothers of Scripture.”
BCC: “How can people be praying for you and your ministry?”
EC: “We have a pressing need for more workers, both volunteers and trained Certified Biblical Counselors. Biblical Counseling is not well known or visible in our local area, and we hope to see that change as a result of offering counseling, mentoring, and training with Word of Hope Ministries. We also have a quickly growing need for financial provision in order to maintain the momentum we are experiencing.”
BCC: “Is there anything else you would like to our readers to know about your ministry?”
EC: “It is an exciting time to be a biblical counselor! Just a few years ago, support was more difficult to find and resources were not as plentiful. There is a stereotype of biblical counseling that is now changing for the better thanks to the new sense of unity in the movement and thanks in large part to the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
As a counselor who most often feels like a ‘lone ranger’ in ministry in my hometown, it has been invaluable to me to be able to connect with others who do what I do and who so willingly share resources and support one another.”
BCC: “How can people contact you and connect with your ministry?”
EC: “People can find out more about us and contact us through the following avenues.”
BCC: “Thank you, Ellen, for your ministry and for acquainting our readers with how the Lord is using you in biblical counseling and mentoring.”