Robin and I have been asked by the Mission Upreach team in Santa Rosa de Copan to put our minds and hearts into the task of developing methods to build loving couples into strong marriages and families in the church. Both the Waldrons, the Honduran team members and we have understood that the growth of the church in Honduras is greatly hindered by the lack of leadership partly due to their being few strong family units in each congregation. There must be some way to change this. We have been given the task of developing seminars, retreats, counseling, sermons or whatever it takes to get couples married and help them stay married for life. Not an easy task in any culture. The question I want to consider is this: how has God prepared us for such a task as this?
First, I want to give some credit to our parents. I can remember celebrating with both sets of parents their fiftieth wedding anniversaries. Robin’s parents asked me to perform a repeat of their wedding ceremony, so, in the little, old white church building in Howard, Pennsylvania I did just that. Their three daughters were there, along with two sons-in-law and nine grandchildren. It was a beautiful time of celebration. My parent’s children rented the community center in Addison, Alabama. All five children were there plus a whole slew of grandchildren and some great-grandchildren. It, too, was a great time of celebration. Neither marriage was perfect in every way but I’m convinced that having parents who stayed together made a difference in mine and Robin’s marriage.
When we were planning to get married as students at Freed-Hardeman University both of us went to the library and read several books about marriage. Both of us had taken the Marriage and the Family course offered. Once we married, one of the things that we loved to do was start each day by reading a chapter in a marriage book. Books like Night Light by James Dobson and Love and Respect by Emerson Eggeriches, which we are re-reading now, come to mind. There were many of them. Those books helped shape who we are and will be used to help shape this ministry. Its interesting to me that of all the books I had on my shelves, the books on marriage were the ones I packed to bring with me. This before even knowing we would be given this task.
Another thing that has prepared us was a class I was assigned to teach in Nigeria when we lived there. I was asked to teach a course on counseling to the third year students. I didn’t really feel qualified to do so but with the help of a book by Gary R. Collins entitled Christian Counseling I took on the class. The students learned a lot. It was something foreign to them – the idea of counseling. I learned a lot about the culture in which they lived and in the process learned that not everyone in the world goes through the same thinking process as I do. Robin and I had many discussions about things I had learned about the Nigerian culture in that classroom.
I have, of course, counseled with couples preparing for marriage. Both Robin and I have tried to help couples who were struggling in their marriages. We dedicated one year at Archdale Church of Christ, where I preached for nine years, to teaching classes every Sunday morning on marriage. I was asked to teach a topic at a marriage seminar held in Charlotte on the simple subject, “Sex in the Marriage.” Not so simple when one has to talk about it in front of a group of people. After all, I am a bit shy.
All of this to explain how God has prepared us for this task. We’ve been married thirty-one years. We, like most couples, have been through trying times. Our marriage still isn’t perfect but we believe God has allowed us to experience just the right things to bring us to this point in our life. We covet your prayers as we take on this responsibility. May it make an eternal difference to the lives of the Hondurans and may it strengthen the Lord’s church here.