• Jeff & Julie Sanders

An online Marriage Conference with a wide reach

“We need a marriage conference now! Will you do it online?”

This was the need of a National Leader we recently connected with who is serving in a unique setting. This pastor is Indian and married to a wonderful Pakistani woman. That in itself is pretty amazing, given the relationship between those two nations. They met in South Korea at a Bible College and spent many months apart due to visa issues, until they were able to reconnect in the Philippines. Today, they reach out with the gospel to the more than one million Punjab Indians and an unreached minority group also from India, dwelling in Manila. Through their relationship network of evangelism and discipleship, they shepherd groups in multiple cities from their base church in Manila.

As these new believers grow in Christ, marriage is an area of great need. Their unsaved friends are equally interested. Because of that, months ago we were invited to lead a marriage retreat in Manila. Of course COVID-19 stopped the in-person plans, but rather than wait, the pastor had the idea to move the series online. Not usually our favorite method of working with couples, however, this accomplished something we hadn’t thought of.

Instead of meeting with couples only in Manila, the online version allowed participants in their network to join from different cities in the Philippines and from four different countries.

(It's not you! We blurred the photo due to the sensitive nature of some in the group.)

Saturday morning at 4 a.m. our time (We are in the Pacific Time Zone) and 7 p.m. Manila time, we met for session 1 with a diverse, but very open, group of couples eager to learn about God’s design for marriage. It was sweet. The pastor’s plan was for us to meet with these busy couples once per month, but the participants suggested that was too long. They're still in lockdown due to COVID and requested that we meet for sessions every two weeks!

Julie and I are thrilled to use materials we developed years ago as we designed a Marriage ministry while serving on staff at one of our supporting churches, West Park, in TN. Here is the skeleton of the core sessions:

Key Idea: God designed marriage for our good and for His glory.

  • Session 1 COMMITMENT – I Stay

  • Session 2 FORGIVENESS – I Forgive

  • Session 3 HONESTY – I Speak

  • Session 4 ACCEPTANCE – I Understand

  • Session 5 RESPECT – I Listen

We love opportunities to teach about God’s amazing plan and goal for marriage. Of course, that always confronts us about how we are living out our marriage before God. I sure am thankful for a wife who is completely committed to both God’s design for marriage and also to me. It’s a lifelong journey to learn about God’s love for us as we live it out in our marriages. It’s good to pause a moment and reflect on what God is teaching you through your marriage.

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