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Jesus in the Exam Room: How to have a spiritual discussion with your STI Clients
By: Ashley Bozarth – Clinic Coordinator

client card guy 7The question I am most often asked at a conference or training is, “how do you share the gospel with your clients?”
This is not an easy question for me to answer, and it’s not because I don’t love talking about Jesus, because I DO! This is a difficult question because the answer is not a 5-point gospel presentation. I have learned that the gospel sounds uniquely different to each individual I meet, and so I simply listen to their story and look for opportunities to introduce them to a Savior who loves them and greatly desires to transform their life.

Here are a few things I have learned in talking about Jesus in the STI Testing room:

  • Ask questions about their life, such as:
    • How did you and your partner meet?
    • How is your relationship going?
    • Who is your main support system?
    • Do you have any type of spiritual background that has been a support to you?
  • Ask questions about their tattoos. I cannot tell you how many conversations about Jesus have started this way!
  • LISTEN. Don’t start talking until they have shared their story.
  • Don’t explain away any bad experiences they have had in their past.
  • Often STI clients say “I feel so gross/dirty” or, “I can’t believe I did this..” In these moments, I remind them that their choices and circumstances don’t have to be their identity. In a loving way, I let them know that there are consequences to actions, but they don’t define them. This is a great moment to remind them that they are made in the image of God, and these consequences don’t change that.
Know that you won’t get to tell everyone you see about Jesus. However, you can love, respect and care for each client that comes in. By being the hands and feet of Jesus to them, they will know something is different about you, and that will bring them back to your doors the next time they need hope and help.
If I do have a chance to talk about Jesus, I often give them a copy of The Message Bible and highlight John 3:16-17a, which reads:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed: by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
I want clients to leave with a positive message about a God who loves them and wants to give them a whole and lasting life – a life not of laws and judgements, which so many of our clients associate with Christianity. I recently read a book that said:
“You must learn to respect people’s lostness; you must become a deep listener and learn to dignify people’s spiritual journeys. And when you hear what has happened to them or not happened to them regarding spiritual matters, you must identify with them or put yourself in their shoes so that maybe someday you can help them see Jesus as separate from those bad experiences. You’ve got to help them see the real face of God.”
Flesh, Hugh Halter
I challenge you to find ways to respect your clients’ “spiritual journeys” in the counseling room, helping them not only hear the gospel, but to see the “real face of God.”