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How does one go from growing up in Mexico to pursuing a counseling degree in Warsaw, Indiana?

counseling degree

Debbie Messenger was born in Wisconsin, but she moved to Mexico when she was 10 years old to share God’s love. Her parents were missionaries for New Tribes Missions, now called Ethnos 360, which meant that Messenger moved around a lot and never felt as though she was part of a single culture.

“It was the normal that we knew,” she said, “I had friends and interests and needs, just like any other kid.”

But Debbie admitted, her childhood wasn’t always easy. Through hard seasons of life, Debbie has found hope and renewal in talking to licensed counselors with professional psychology degrees. “It planted something in my heart that made me want to give comfort to others who also struggle,” she said.

Messenger moved back into the country to pursue a psychology degree as well as a masters of education in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri and later came to Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, to finish her academic requirements for her Indiana state licensure through its CACREP accredited masters in counseling degree. Since then, she has worked at Cardinal Services, Bowen Center, and Kosciusko County Alcohol and Drug Program.

She has loved being a part of the midwest college community of Warsaw and said that as soon as she moved here, she knew she never wanted to leave. Debbie especially appreciated the safe and tight-knit community after her transient years as a missionary kid, “I love feeling like it’s home,” she expressed.

Now, Debbie works at LifeTouch Ministries and Counseling Center in Warsaw. Even though she’s only been at LifeTouch since January of 2020, it’s been refreshing to be surrounded by a staff that supports her and prays with her. “It’s been a healing balm for my soul,” she beamed.

Debbie relies on God as she counsels her clients. Through the highs and lows, she grows more passionate about creating a non-judgmental atmosphere for her clients every day. “As I’m sitting with people in their journey, there’s freedom to look to God together,” she said. “In my weakness, God reminds me that he’s got this.”

Debbie has always wanted to use her counseling degree in a specific way: “To enter into the pain and doubt and encourage people by drawing out the strength that I recognize in them and to help them know their true identity in God.” 

Debbie’s advice to students of Grace College today is: “Everyone has their own journey in God’s time frame. Find a safe place and talk about disappointment, disillusionment, and anger. And lean hard into God’s grace.” This safe space might be the Grace Student Health and Counseling Center where you can speak with trained professionals with counseling degrees. It might be your growth group, your tight-knit community group on your hall characterized by authentic relationships, deepening spirituality, and intentional action and reflection. Regardless of where your safe space is, be sure to heed Debbie’s advice.  

If you are inspired by Debbie’s words and want to help comfort those in need, you can start your journey of counseling now. Grace College’s counseling degree is only a few steps away. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge and skills, consider our masters in counseling degree.

Every time God called Debbie to step beyond familiar borders, she walked forward in faith. Where are you being called? Will you go?

Tagged With: Counseling, Grace Online, School of Behavioral Science