09 Mar 2023
Meet the (New!) Staff: Keith Seary
Name: Hi, all; my name is Keith Seary.
Hometown: I’m Jersey born and raised—from the shores of Brigantine to the blueberry farmlands of Hammonton, New Jersey.
Position: I’m beyond blessed to begin serving as part of the Men’s Ministry staff here at Harvest USA.
Description of work at Harvest USA: A quick Google search says there are 59 “one another” commands in Scripture. I hope it can be said that my work at Harvest USA is living out those commands. My heart is to love, support, teach, admonish, and sympathize with men struggling with sexual sin through one-on-one and group discipleship. I’m also working to equip believers to be ready to give an answer to what the world has to say about topics on sex through contributing to our website and many outreach events. Finally, I have the honor of developing foundational relationships God uses to keep his ministry through Harvest USA functioning. Praise God for prayer warriors, ministry advocates, and financial supporters!
How did you get to Harvest USA?
“Mom, I’m just not sure I’m smart enough for college,” I said right before my senior year of high school. “Pick!” my mom replied. “I talked with your dad, and we decided you’re going to take a dual-credit class to prove yourself wrong.” I scanned the list until my eyes settled on a class with a term I’d never heard before: “Intro to Biblical Counseling.” I’ll do this. It looks interesting, I thought.
Fast forward about two years into my bachelor’s degree in biblical counseling. My fellow young adult ministry co-leader and I came to our pastor seeking guidance about a transgender individual who joined our group. Our pastor gave us the book Hide or Seek, a Harvest USA resource.
A few more years passed, and the high school senior was now a college senior wondering how to serve God with my impending degree. I searched online for ministry jobs (in typical Gen Z fashion) and, after some scrolling in the late hours of the night, found an opening at Harvest USA. In that moment, I experienced a sense of déjà vu from my high school self: I’ll do this. It looks interesting. Through making a resume, submitting an application, being interviewed, and doing my own research on Harvest USA, my interest quickly became a passion to serve here. By God’s gracious sovereignty, here I am.
What is your favorite Scripture or Bible book?
This is a bit like asking my little sister which of our seven goats is her favorite. The more I study the Word in each season of life, new verses and books rise above the rest in how they minister to my heart. Romans 8 will always be dear to me. The believer is eternally, unfailingly, and without exception secure in salvation through the triune God—that is the core truth of this chapter. Paul mixes beauty, logic, and love together in his case for this truth. Romans 8 motivates, comforts, instills peace, and drives me to worship every time I read it.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia?
I live in New Jersey, but Philly is part of my heritage—my mother spent some of her childhood in the Philly area, and my grandfather served the city as a police officer for about two decades. So, I think I can get away with saying there’s a bit of brotherly love running through my veins. I’m also a proud Philadelphia Union fan. It’s encouraging and exciting to watch their competitive performance draw attention to Major League Soccer in the United States, a nation sadly confused about which football is superior.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
If I could choose between living in a house or a tent, I would choose the tent. The outdoors is where I feel refreshed. There is nothing better than being under the stars while mesmerized by a fire. I could watch a nice campfire for hours. God expresses his goodness so clearly in his creation! Kayaking, hiking, jet skiing, rock climbing, fishing—you name it, if it involves the outdoors, it’s an activity for me.
26 Jan 2023
Meet the Staff: Scott Pickering
Name: Scott A. Pickering
Hometown: Berlin, New Jersey
Position: Chief Operating Officer
What do you do at Harvest USA?
I oversee Harvest USA’s daily operations, including all of our programs, administrative functions, and our finances and accounting. I also serve as a member of our development team, where I help coordinate our efforts to cultivate new and existing ministry partners.
How did you get to Harvest USA?
I love to tell this story as it points so clearly to God’s sweet, covenantal care and leading of his people. My history with Harvest USA actually began a year or two before I joined the staff. I was working at a local bank while attending seminary. At the bank, I met a Christian businessman who provided accounting services to a number of local Christian nonprofits. We developed a relationship, and I mentioned that I would love to use my accounting skills to help support a Christian nonprofit, specifically one that shared my theological convictions. The conversation didn’t go any further and I didn’t give it any more thought.
Fast forward a year or two: I’m now working as a consultant for a local insurance company. It was a good-paying, flexible job that allowed me to continue my seminary studies. At this point, I felt God leading me to do missions work in Bosnia. This was scary, though, because it meant leaving my job. How would I afford seminary? Would I find a job that would accommodate my school schedule? I was bombarded by these and many other questions, but Christ stood by me, strengthening my faith and giving me courage. I went ahead and gave official notice that I was leaving.
Within a week, I received a phone call from the Christian businessman I met at the bank. He told me of a job opening at Harvest USA, a nonprofit that shared my theological convictions. I was delighted but explained it wouldn’t work as I was leaving shortly to spend the summer in Bosnia. He asked when I was going to return. When I answered, he said, “That’s perfect. That’s right when the position is opening up.” He proceeded to coordinate an interview for me with Harvest USA and, in God’s kindness, I was hired before I even left for Bosnia!
What is your favorite Scripture passage or book of the Bible?
This is like asking if I have a favorite child. I love all of God’s Word—it’s difficult to point to a favorite. That said, I’ve found myself coming back again and again to 2 Corinthians.
First, 2 Corinthians 1:8–11 is the text of the first sermon I ever preached in a church. In it, the apostle Paul learns “spirituality 101,” and in so doing, he reveals God’s way—his “curriculum.” The trials and testings I face are part of the means God is using to wean me from my self-reliance and teach me the joy and power of looking away from self and trusting in him. If Paul needed it, how much more do I!
Second, I’ve found great instruction and encouragement meditating on Paul’s description of Christian ministry as “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:10–12). We make the life of Jesus “real” to those around us as we die to ourselves in order that others might experience life in Christ.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia?
There are many things to like, but my favorite is probably Wissahickon Valley Park (a.k.a. “the Wiss”). The park boasts over 1,800 acres and 50+ miles of trails. It’s the Central Park of Philadelphia. I love to go there for a good jog or a leisurely walk.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I spent a summer teaching English in Bosnia and have been to Ukraine and Uganda on short-term missions trips.
24 Nov 2022
Meet the Staff: Joy Worrell
My name is Joy Worrell, and I’ve been part of Harvest USA’s Parents and Family Ministry staff since June 2022. I work remotely from my home in South Carolina, helping parents and family members of LGBTQ+ identified children and adults through one-on-one counseling, resources, and group sessions. My husband and I first heard of Harvest early in our marriage through our church at the time. We greatly admired their work and desire to reach the LGBTQ+ community.
Over the years, my husband and I continued to keep up with the work of Harvest USA. A few years ago, a couple of staff members visited our present church, First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia, for a sexuality and gender conference. We were again exposed to this excellent ministry and saw the need for Harvest USA to come alongside the church in this vital area.
Fast forward, and a staff position with Harvest became available. Because of my involvement in biblical counseling over the years with my husband, an ordained pastor, it seemed like a good fit for me. Since coming on staff, I’ve been tremendously blessed by working with the godly parents who come seeking help, support, and encouragement during one of the most difficult times in their lives.
A significant Scripture for me has been Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When I’m tempted by discouragement from my own sin and this sin-sick world, this verse reminds me that there is beauty—it’s found in the truth of God’s Word and the incarnate Word himself, our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. I am to dwell on the unfading and beautiful Word of God. He is all that is true and will sustain me through the storms of life.
Tim and I have five children and two grandchildren. I enjoyed being a homeschooling mom for many years and found it rewarding to participate in our local homeschool co-ops by teaching English literature, public speaking, and mock trial. I enjoy reading, walking, biking, cooking, and interior design.
I remember the founder of Harvest USA, John Freeman, sharing with me recently about his call to serve sexual strugglers back in the 1980s. He said had every intention of returning to his home state of Tennessee after seminary. Feeling led by the Lord, however, he approached the leadership of a large center-city Philadelphia church (Tenth Presbyterian) and inquired about being part of a new ministry focus they were exploring to an unreached people group in Philadelphia, the LGBTQ+ community. That really struck me—the idea of LGBTQ+ being an unreached people group. The need was great in the mid-1980s when Harvest USA was founded and is no less today. If anything, the need is greater. I am so honored and privileged to serve the Lord in this crucial ministry.
27 Oct 2022
Meet the (New!) Staff: Caitlin McCaffrey
Hello! I’m Caitlin McCaffrey, and it’s my privilege to join the Harvest USA team as a women’s ministry staff member. I’m originally from the Philadelphia area but have been living in Los Angeles, California, for the past 15 years.
I’ve known about Harvest USA since I was a child; in fact, my mom worked in an administrative role there for several years in the ‘90s. I have a memory of helping fold letters to send out to potential donors at my kitchen table so, naturally, I’m going from folding letters to full-time ministry!
Jokes aside, I’ve been blown away by the resources coming out of Harvest USA, particularly in the last few years. My passion to see the church equipped to step into areas of sexuality, gender, and relational issues has only grown. I’ve pursued different avenues of equipping for ministry over the last decade or so—some formally, through higher education, and some through the ordinary and glorious life of the local church.
Many women in the church are suffering in silence and shame, and I’m eager to bring the gospel to bear on these sensitive issues for the women God is bringing to the ministry. Isaiah 61 spurs me on as Jesus talks about the ministry he himself has fulfilled (spoken of later in Luke 4):
The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, the he may be glorified. (Isa. 61:1–3)
In my short time as a staff member, I have seen that what we do here at Harvest USA is simply following Jesus and allowing him to minister to the broken parts of our hearts. Pray for me as I seek to follow Jesus in proclaiming liberty to captives and binding up brokenhearted women, so that they may praise him and become oaks of righteousness—for the glory of God alone!
Caitlin is in the process of developing ministry partners in prayer and monthly financial giving. Would you consider joining her support team here? Caitlin is relying on the generosity of people like you to enable her to continue in the ministry God has called her to.
21 Jul 2022
Meet the Staff: Bob Heywood
Name: Bob Heywood
Hometown: I’m from the Roxborough area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Position: Men’s Ministry Staff
Description of work at Harvest USA: I facilitate biblical support groups for men and engage in initial visit appointments with men who reach out to us for help. These appointments allow me the privilege to speak into the lives of people from all over the country and world! I’ve had occasions to speak in some amazing venues in the past, but those opportunities have diminished in recent years.
How did you get to Harvest USA? I came to Harvest USA around 24 years ago because of my own personal struggle with pornography. After a few years of involvement with the groups, volunteering with facilitating groups, and then losing my job as an offset pressman, my pastor suggested I inquire whether Harvest USA could take me on as an employee. John Freeman graciously accepted me—if I could raise support. In six months, I raised enough support to start working part-time, and I’ve been working part-time ever since. I’ve been working here for 18 years now.
What is your favorite Scripture? Anybody who knows me knows that my favorite book of the Bible is 2 Corinthians. There’s a lot going on in that book, but one highlight for me is chapter five, verse twenty-one: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” A clearer gospel statement can’t be found. I love it.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia? I used to work in Old City Philadelphia at 2nd and Chestnut. I love that area and always enjoy going there for a visit. I also love the Roxborough area, where I was born and raised—it’s home to me. I’m also an avid Philadelphia sports enthusiast. But I have to admit, that has been a rough experience over the years.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself? I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 49 years. I’ve also been going to the same church for 48 years. We’ve changed denominations twice but in the same congregation! I worked for the federal government for 28 years and was in the United States Air Force for four years. I came to Christ when I was in the Air Force in July 1971. My highest degree of education is Roxborough High, class of ‘69.
23 Jun 2022
Meet The Staff: Irene Maguire
Name: Irene Maguire
Hometown: Cork, Ireland
Position: Administrative Manager
Description of work at Harvest USA: As with any non-profit, I get to wear many hats at Harvest!
- Facilities Manager: I oversee office management and liaise with the building owners to ensure our space is a good and safe place to work. I also oversee maintenance and supplies, including supporting staff with good technology, networks, phone systems, and teaching space.
- Website: I take care of the backend of the website, so it works smoothly and all the blogs (including this one!) post as they should—making sure the hyperlinks actually link and anything downloadable does just that—downloads!
- Online Store: A crucial part of our website is our online store, which includes print resources and free digital downloads, and I oversee the fulfillment process. Since its inception, the store has been a major tool in raising Harvest’s profile both here at home and internationally.
- Database: I am the database administrator—that piece of the puzzle that links Harvest to its supporters. You’re reading this piece because you’re in our database! We work hard on the backend to ensure our data is up-to-date and accurate.
- Coffee!!! Last but not least, I make sure we have really, really good coffee beans. Nobody gets any work done around here without good coffee!
How did you get to Harvest USA? I came to America to come out. I was chasing after a girlfriend who was based in the States. One of the last things I said to God before I got on the plane was, “If you do exist, prove it.” Now never, ever give the Lord an opening like that and expect him not to take advantage of it! Shortly after arriving, I had to grapple with the realization that God did exist. Then the issue was, and continues to be, how am I going to live out my life in light of his existence? What does it mean to be a Christian struggling with same-sex attraction but living in holiness before God? As part of that ongoing process, I joined a Harvest group about a year after arriving in the States. It was a safe and challenging place to start my journey—living honestly before the Lord. Like all journeys, it’s been full of ups and downs. I would say it’s become less about sexuality and more about me as an entire person—of which my sexuality is just one part. It’s about realizing God loves me for who I am and in spite of who I am. My work at Harvest has also been part of that journey for twenty-three of those years. I believe the work done here, being signposts to Christ for others who grapple with these issues, is altogether worth it. I believe what we do equips individuals and families for the long haul, helping them deal with the realities of living in a complicated, frenetic world and showing them that Christ is in it with them no matter how fraught it gets.
What is your favorite Scripture? Proverbs 31:25–26:
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (NIV)
This woman is not alarmed by the future or what it can bring, nor is she anxious about the opinions of others. She looks forward in confidence and anticipation of Christ, her shepherd, leading her. She looks forward to a certain, eternal future. These things are easy to write but living them out—now there’s the rub! But, unless I am willing to step out on this road, willing to travel it, I will never get to know how that journey ends.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia? Philly has a sense of history that I appreciate. It’s a city of small, bustling neighborhoods once you step off the main streets. It’s a city of contradictions, yet not overpowering or as “in your face” as New York. Another thing about living in this part of the US is the four distinct seasons. Someone asked me what I would miss most if I ever left, and that would be watching the dogwoods bloom each spring—always a joy.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself? I traveled a couple of times to Nepal, working as support to medical teams serving the hill villages in the Lamjung region. Lamjung is an area northwest of Katmandu in the shadow of the glorious Himalayas. There’s a saying that to drive in India and Nepal is to have a firm belief in the afterlife. . . I can attest that this is absolutely true! Your concept of travel and distance changes. Getting to a village on the opposite side of the valley, seemingly so close that you could reach across and touch it, takes a day’s hike and sore knees! But I would go back in a heartbeat to be among the hill people again. Their generosity and kindness make the sore knees worth it!
24 Mar 2022
Meet the Staff: Karen Robinson
Name: Karen Robinson
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Staff position: Executive Assistant
Description of work at Harvest USA: My main goal is to assist the Harvest USA’s Founder, John Freeman, in any way I can. I find the job fulfilling because John is a visionary. Doing administrative tasks frees up my co-workers to focus on the vision and mission of Harvest USA. Also, if there is any way to boost employee morale, I’m on it!
How did you get to Harvest USA? I’m so glad you asked! A leader from my former church gave me a Harvest USA brochure. She had it at the bottom of her drawer and dusted it off for me. “Wow,” I thought because of the dust, “I am the only female in the congregation struggling sexually.” I went through the Harvest USA’s Journeyer’s group for women struggling with same-sex attraction. Walking through the Harvest USA’s Tree Model together, God showed me patterns of my sin. Without condemnation, he lovingly walked alongside me as I wrestled to yield to his will regarding sex. It was a blessing to see God work in the lives of the group members. We are not identified by past actions; we are identified as God’s beloved daughters. (As a side note, we had the joy of being in the first Journeyer’s group to use the resource Sexual Sanity for Women.) To give back in some way, I volunteered weekly at Harvest USA. Volunteering led to being on staff. Who knew that dusting off a brochure would lead to me having my dream job!
What is your favorite Scripture? I love Philippians 4:8. It keeps my mind focused on what God says instead of what man says. It also helps me determine which thoughts are sweet whispers from my heavenly Father to his beloved daughter. God is not quiet. He has a lot of true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy things to say to us! Meditating on these things allows us to hear him.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia? I am West Philadelphia born and raised! I love Philly’s history, as well as the architecture. It’s easy to feel spoiled with everything in your backyard. Let’s not forget cheesesteaks, pretzels, and Tastykake!
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself? Yup, I’ve jumped out of a plane twice! I also enjoy playing hymns on the piano (both my mother and her mother were organists), driving a stick-shift (no worries about anyone asking to borrow your car), and playing spider solitaire (I’m on the Grandmaster level).
03 Mar 2022
Meet the New Staff: Tara and Yohan
Harvest USA is pleased to announce two new staff who have joined our Direct Ministry Team in the past two months!
Hello! My name is Tara Hallman, and I’m a Women’s Ministry staff member. My husband, Jake, and I are blessed to have three sons. Zeke is 23 and getting married in June to our future daughter-in-law, Raylee. Brett is a senior in high school, and Tice is in 8th grade. I first became aware of the ministry at Harvest USA through my husband, who read Sexual Sanity for Men with a men’s group several years ago. Then, while on campus at Westminster Theological Seminary, I attended a lunch with Ellen Dykas and other Harvest USA staff, where they talked about a Women’s Ministry internship and shared about the ministry at Harvest USA. My heart has been to serve women who have been affected by sexual brokenness in their marriages, so I was disappointed when the internship did not work out that year, but I trusted God’s plan. The following year, I reached out to Ellen again, and, this time, I was thrilled to be chosen for the internship. As an intern, I have had the opportunity to learn from Ellen and the Women’s Ministry staff, observe their approach to caring for women who are struggling, and join them in bringing the truth and the hope of the gospel into each woman’s story. I love the collaboration that happens in the Women’s Ministry, as well as the opportunity for both one-on-one and group discipleship. I am looking forward to having the privilege of walking with women, meeting them in their suffering, and watching them grow in understanding themselves and God in the light of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Hello! My full name is Yohan Rafael Huh Prudente de Oliveira, and I’ve joined the Men’s Ministry team. I bear both my father’s last name (“Prudente de Oliveira,” meaning “prudent olive tree” in Portuguese) and my mother’s last name (“Huh,” meaning “to permit” or “to decree” in Korean). My family has a Polish-Jew and South-Korean background. My parents met in South Korea and were commissioned as missionaries for church planting ministry in São Paulo-Brazil. I also have a younger sister who works as a graphic designer. Their godliness brought me near to the cross of Christ.
I learned about Harvest USA for the first time through Ms. Ellen Dykas, Director of Women’s Ministry. I witnessed her influence and ministry while attending my current church, New Life Dresher. I also remember when I was faced with challenging questions about sexual brokenness in the youth group I serve, which encouraged me to seek biblical answers inside and outside of seminary. When I joined Harvest USA as an intern, three primary things led me to apply for the Men’s Ministry Staff position:
- The unwavering support of my wife;
- The prayerful response from my church; and
- The overwhelming financial aid received for my education.
These affirmed my external calling and strengthened my internal calling for gospel ministry. As a staff member, I am looking forward to the primary goal of meeting the lost (Luke 19:10) and bringing them back to life in Jesus Christ, whose matchless name I praise, love, and seek with all my heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
02 Dec 2021
Meet the Staff: Chris Torchia
Name: Chris Torchia
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Position: Director of Parents and Family Ministry
Description of work at Harvest USA: I am primarily responsible for overseeing all the direct ministry to parents and families, as well as contributing to our equipping ministry through creating resources to educate the church in these specific areas. Although I often meet individually with parents and family members, the majority of my ministry is conducted through facilitating biblical support groups for parents whose child has embraced an LGBTQ+ identity. These groups aim to provide parents with a safe and supportive community to share their struggles, understand their child better, and explore the role God is calling them to have in their child’s life. My equipping efforts seek to educate the Church in how to properly understand and care for hurting parents dealing with these challenging issues.
How did you get to Harvest USA? I first heard about Harvest USA while I was in my last semester of seminary, at a men’s breakfast for my church. I remember being struck by how theologically sound and surprisingly practical the teaching was. I spoke with the former president of Harvest USA, and he shared with me some potential job opportunities to consider. Because I was about to finish my counseling degree and didn’t know what was next, the timing was perfect. I began my career with Harvest USA in the Men’s Ministry and shortly after was asked to get involved in our ministry to parents. Unmarried with no kids at the time, I thought, “Why not?!,” and jumped in. By God’s grace and many long hours spent with parents, I found my niche there and eventually ended up overseeing all our ministry to parents and families.
What is your favorite Scripture? One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 1:7:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. (ESV)
I have always been the kind of person with more questions than answers, which has given me a strong desire for wisdom and understanding. This is especially true as I wrestle with the complexities of my own heart and the lives of people I care for. I love this simple verse because I have witnessed how it proves true over and over again. I have found that true knowledge and understanding begins and ends with fearing the Lord and not being right in your own eyes. This passage has several implications, not least of which is the guidance, protection, and life that come from writing God’s words on your heart and treasuring his commands within you.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia? I actually just moved with my family back to the Lancaster area after living in Philadelphia for 10 years, but what I love most about Philly is that it has so much character. From the rich history of Old City, the Italian market, and the Rocky Steps (yo, Rocko!) to the scenery of Fairmount Park and the Wissahickon Trail, the foodie scene, and, of course, the infamous northeastern hospitality; you can find a lot of flavor in this city. I also appreciate that Philly is a city of neighborhoods and small enough to get to know people—if you can stick around long enough to get past the seemingly tough exterior.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself? Before my Harvest USA days, I had a pretty illustrious career as a breakdancer. For more than 12 years, I was part of a Christian breakdance crew that performed for various venues and taught workshops and classes for kids and adults. Through this art form, the Lord allowed us to have a flourishing outreach and discipleship ministry, which led me to discover my strengths in ministry and pursue counseling as a career. Providentially, the Lord also opened the door for me to teach dance workshops in the Dominican Republic, where I met my now wife of five years!
11 Nov 2021
Meet the Staff: Ellen Mary Dykas
What is your hometown? I’ve lived in Philadelphia for 16 years, but my hometown is St. Louis, MO! I have enjoyed living on the East Coast, but I remain a Midwesterner at heart!
What is your position at Harvest USA? Since 2007, I’ve served as the Director of Women’s Ministry.
Describe your work at Harvest USA. I have the joy and privilege of overseeing all of Harvest USA’s ministry to two populations: women who need help living sexually faithful lives and wives of men who have battled with sexual sin. Similar to our Men’s and Parent’s Ministries, our Women’s Ministry team engages in short-term, one-to-one discipleship with hurting women, and we also lead biblical support groups for these two populations of women.
Another aspect of what I do at Harvest is serving as a writer and teacher, both of which are ministries I love to do! I’ve gotten to write for our blog for fourteen years now, and it has been a steady process of God maturing of me. In addition, I have been able to travel all across the United States, as well as Colombia, Ecuador, Taiwan, and East Asia, on behalf of Harvest USA. This international teaching ministry has been one of the most unexpected and delightful surprises of being on staff.
How did you get to Harvest USA? Well, I’m limited with my word count, so I need to be brief! I moved to Philly in 2005 to study biblical counseling at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). I was introduced to CCEF through my struggles with relational idolatry and the painful mess of codependent relationships. As a counseling student, I became acquainted with Harvest USA when I saw their info table at a CCEF national Conference.
Now, let me give a full disclosure: the first time I saw the Harvest USA info table and signs about sexual sin, I was uncomfortable and nervous; suffice it to say I steered clear of that table! Little did I know that, through a simple inquiry about what I understood to be a part-time discipleship position, the Lord would connect me with Mr. John Freeman, who said, “Oh, no, Ellen. We’re looking for a full-time Women‘s Ministry director!” To which I replied, “Oh! I had no idea. I am definitely not your girl and certainly not qualified.”
Lovingly and enthusiastically—which won’t surprise anyone who knows this dear brother—John persisted, and, after a few months of prayer, conversations, guidance, and counsel, I accepted the position. Though the topics that Harvest USA focuses on, like sexuality and gender, were intimidating to me, the heart of Harvest USA excited me and drew me in. The focus on Christ, teaching God’s Word, and discipleship were a great fit for what I have committed my life to.
What is your favorite Scripture? I don’t really have one, though I often quote Psalm 18:19: “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me” (ESV). I’ve experienced the Lord’s rescuing, delighting love for me over and over, including the ways he has brought me out of sin and shepherded me into spacious, broad places. The shame, insecurity, and emotional pain that so many messy relationships gave to me were a primary way that God brought me to the end of myself and led me to humble myself in asking for help. Those struggles, and the process of repentance, heart-healing, and growth that God has allowed me to experience, are a significant foundation for every aspect of my ministry with Harvest USA.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia? Besides being in the epicenter of cheesesteaks, I love that the world of biblical counseling is wide, deep, and rich in Philly. I’ve already mentioned CCEF, and there are many others ministries—not to mention churches—that are passionate about counseling and discipling people from a rich foundation of Christ and the Word. We’re a family—ministry-siblings, if you will—who encourage, support, and help each other to faithfully serve God.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself? Most of my adult life has been in vocational ministry, and, prior to Harvest USA, I was focused on missionary care and cross-cultural church planting. I love traveling internationally and experiencing the beauty of the peoples, tribes, nations, and languages that God has created.