Kwame Frimpong, a Class of 2022 graduate with a PHD in counsellor Education and supervision, concluded his 12-year academic journey with Liberty University Thursday during the first day of commencement degree presentation ceremonies. Earning his Ph.D. was the final milestone in his educational journey to learn how to better serve the hearts and minds of fellow believers through counseling.
Frimpong grew up in a Methodist household in the west African country of Ghana, became a born-again Christian at the age of 16, and felt the Lord call him to become a church planter in 1989, at the age of 24. He began his ministry in Ghana before moving to the Netherlands in 1993 for two years and ultimately settling into the United States. He saw all of his moves as a chance to walk through doors that God had opened.
“I felt God say to stop whatever else I was doing and do His spiritual business,” Frimpong said. “Soon, all that I knew was church work; my whole heart, mind, soul, and body was involved in the Church. I thought Holland was going to be my final destination, but my uncle filed my green card for me to come to the U.S. and I followed that. I always see myself as a missionary, and so I felt like God had opened a door for me to do mission work in the U.S.”
In his 30 years as a church planter, Frimpong planted seven churches, located in the Netherlands, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. After two of his churches dissolved, Frimpong realized that one of the biggest issues he was confronted with was family life and marital issues.
“I became highly frustrated, and I realized that a lot of the issues I was facing had to do with human behavior and other things I couldn’t handle in church planting,” he explained. “I knew I needed to learn more about this topic. I felt the need to continue my education about human behavior and mental health, and that led me to Liberty University.”
From his home in Raleigh, N.C., he began earning his bachelor’s in Christian counselling through Liberty University Online programs in 2010. While studying, he developed a particular interest in marriage and family counseling. After earning his bachelor’s in 2016, he started his M.A in Family and Marriage Therapy in 2016, graduated in 2018, and immediately began his doctoral program.
While I studied my master’s, I saw how my professors talked like pastors; they were educating society and ministries, writing, speaking, traveling, and I saw myself doing that,” Frimpong said. “I couldn’t wait to get started, so I went straight into my Ph.D. I knew that I was and am a speaker, I knew that I liked research, and I knew I liked to write, so I knew that a Ph.D. was the right choice.”
During his doctoral studies, he began his current positions as a family life pastor at All Nations Kharis House, a church just outside of Atlanta, and as a licensed counselor at the Care Counseling Center nearby.
Frimpong’s main areas of focus are premarital and marital counseling and teen anxiety/depression. He has written four books and started a podcast about building healthy relationships.
“I believe that premarital counseling is always late; we need to go back further to what I’d call marriage education where we teach people about (Godly) marriage much earlier,” he said. “People get into marriage not fully prepared or completely unprepared, and families are not educating their children.” Frimpong and his wife, Mary, have been married for nearly 29 years and have three daughters.
In his time in the Ph.D. program, Frimpong said he thoroughly enjoyed the mentorship opportunities with both professors and fellow students, and he was able to deepen those connections when he visited campus for the program’s intensive courses.
“The connections that I made with the professors were very impactful for me,” Frimpong said. “I really liked how the Ph.D. program was mentorship-based because I have sought out mentorship, in both counseling and ministry, for the longest time. I always tell people that through the journey of the Ph.D. at Liberty you will experience so much, not only in academics but also with the people you meet, the friendships you build, and the connections you make. It means so much in one’s trajectory in the academic world.”
As a student born in another country, Frimpong said he appreciated the encouragement he received from his professors and peers, and he hopes to now be the one to motivate international students in their American education. He recently wrote an article published by the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia, explaining the resilience of international students, the challenges they face when pursuing higher education, and the impact faculty members can have on them.
“Foreign students who take classes in higher education have resilience in response to English language anxiety, whether English is a second language or not, and I hope that I can be an encouragement to prospective international students to be resilient and continue their education,” he said. “I’m so thankful to the faculty at Liberty for the way they’ve spoken with me throughout this educational time.”