Benjamin Skye's dream was to return to America from his home in Malaysia, get a college degree and live here permanently. Texas Baptists not only helped bring him overseas but also guided him along in his journey to counsel families and serve the Lord.
Born in Pennsylvania, Skye then spent the next 17 years of his life in Malaysia. Despite living in a religiously diverse country in which Islam is the most prominent, he was raised in a Christian household with dreams of furthering his education in the United States, like his father.
"My mother credits our English proficiency to her requiring us to begin reading the Bible twice a day, seven days a week all through our school years," Skye said.
With the help of Texas Baptists ministerial scholarships and financial support from Hardin-Simmons University, Skye was able to enter college in the fall of 2007 and felt called toward ministry. Eventually, he graduated double majoring in Bible and Psychology, but Skye's desire to work in ministry called him to work beyond the pulpit.
"I felt this restless desire to connect more deeply with the people to whom I was ministering to," Skye said. "Counseling provides that environment for genuine acceptance and ministering grace, compassion and tenderness."
Skye is currently a counselor at STARRY, a counseling agency through Children at Heart Ministries, which "nurtures children, strengthens families and restores hope" in many different Texas locations. At the new Plano location, Skye gets to do what he has always hoped to do: be a minister to hurting families and share God's love through counseling.
Like the other branches of Children at Heart Ministries, STARRY's services are absolutely free to qualifying families in need of counseling. Each family is given 180 days (around six months) of free counseling services, which typically provides enough time for counselors like Skye to help struggling families recover from loss, hardship or issues of faith. In addition to the counseling services offered, people can call a crisis hotline that is run by the team of trained counselors as needed.
"It is such a blessing to know that finances will never be an obstacle to the families who come to us for help," Skye said. "It is an even greater blessing to have such a significant length of time to build relationships with these families and to help them walk through life's various challenges."
The Cooperative Program through the Texas Baptists helps fund STARRY and similar organizations, such as Gracewood, Miracle Farm, and Texas Baptist Children's Home, and through these donations STARRY looks forward to continuing to welcome in families, minister them with understanding and unconditional love, and form lasting, supportive relationships.
"From the minute these families enter our office for intake, through every hourly counseling session, to the final session, our staff and counselors do our very best to provide encouragement, empathy and hope for healing," Skye said.
While his job has its difficulties, Skye is hopeful that the Lord will continue to work through him as he watches the bright future of STARRY unfold.
"Ben has excellent communication skills and a wonderful sense of humor. He is a hard worker and team player," Angela Bulls, the director of counseling services at STARRY said. "Those attributes along with his skill and passion for counseling made him a natural fit for the STARRY family. His background with the BGCT also helped because that is what motivated him to apply to work with STARRY, recognizing we are a part of Children At Heart Ministries."
To receive information about counseling services at this particular STARRY, call (214) 238-0801, or you can go online to http://www.starry.org, or visit a branch in your area. The two North Texas locations are:
17440 N. Dallas Parkway, Suite 130
Dallas TX, 75287
4501 Medical Center Dr., Suite 300
McKinney TX, 75069
Olivia Williams, a journalism student from Baylor, is currently serving as a joint Communications Intern for both the Baptist Standard and the Texas Baptists.