Cultivating Hope in Struggling Families
Early in his graduate school career, Ross Porter (PhD '95, MDiv '93) knew he wanted to work with families in crisis. In 1998 he founded Stillpoint Family Resources, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling services to the underserved.
Bringing healing and hope to the families of special needs children is a special focus of the Stillpoint ministry--a focus very near to Porter's heart. Eleven days after Porter defended his dissertation, his first child, John Michael, was born with Down syndrome and two serious heart malformations. "My wife, Jennifer, and I grew profoundly from the experience," he says. "Our whole life was deepened and broadened, and we understood like never before the significance of family."
After a pre-doctoral internship at the VA Medical Center in Sepulveda, California, Porter's vision for ministry began to crystallize, particularly after a memorable lunch with the late professor Lewis Smedes, under whom Porter had worked as a teaching assistant for three years. "Lew told me, 'Your experience with your son is meant to be part of your ministry.' He confirmed what I already had known in my heart," Porter says.
In 1995, while John Michael underwent the first of multiple heart surgeries, Porter taught high school religion and psychology. When his son medically stabilized three years later, Porter was able to launch Stillpoint Family Resources part time and, in 2000, full time.
Based in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, Stillpoint has a counseling staff of nine and operates satellite offices throughout the greater Los Angeles area. The organization provides education and affordable counseling to individuals, couples, and families walking through challenging life events. "The most common problems we see at Stillpoint include splintering marriages, parent-child conflicts, and difficulties arising from existential struggles as people search for meaning and purpose in life," Porter explains. Stillpoint's referrals come from churches, schools, clients, and clinicians familiar with the organization's work.
Additional Stillpoint offices are located in the Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles and at the Santa Teresita Medical Center in Duarte. The Stillpoint Family Resources clinicians serve as the first line of care for families as they receive special needs diagnoses for their unborn children.
"Whatever the crisis, Stillpoint is a trustworthy place for people to come, to heal, to grow emotionally and spiritually, and to move forward in truth and love--as individuals and as families," says Porter.
Throughout his ministry, Porter has valued his educational preparation at Fuller. "From the beginning I noticed and appreciated the seminary's explicit integration," he says. "Where else can you walk from a psychology class to a theology class, and back across campus to another psychology class? Truly, Fuller was a unique and nurturing place to learn. I know God brought me there."
To learn more about Stillpoint Family Resources, please visit www.stillpointresources.org