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“Your Marriage Course Turned My Life Around”

April 3, 2013 by Open Doors in General

China couple

We all know the story-the brave evangelist travels through China, making converts wherever the Spirit leads him; not even harassment, mistreatment and arrest can stop him from sharing the gospel. What the stories do not reveal are the realities facing the lonely, often destitute wife, and the children growing up without a father. Over the years, Open Doors has invested a lot of effort into strengthening Christian marriages in China by offering a marriage training course that house church networks can easily duplicate.

Marriages of God’s children take a central place in His story of redeeming the world. In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes how the Christian marriage should be a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. The importance God places on healthy, Biblical marriage was largely unknown to Chinese Christians during the period of spiritual revival in the eighties and nineties.

“Many children of Christian evangelists resented the Christian faith,” says Enlai (alias), a Christian who taught the marriage course with his wife for years. “The Christians considered their sacrifice as spiritual. Our training has a strong biblical foundation and cites many Scripture passages. This increased the acceptance of ‘Blessed Family’ (a marriage course manual written by a local Chinese pastor) by church leaders. Many, if not most, Chinese churches did not consider marriage training a priority, or even a need, to the church.”

The spiritual climate in China is rapidly changing, however, and the marriage course has now been taught to several thousand Christians. Concerned with the need for strong, biblical Christian families, Open Doors made this course available throughout China. Many churches started to offer the course to their own members. “Marriage is the closest relationship we have on the earth,” says Enlai. “It is an expression of the love of God. In the journey of marriage, we are forced to face ourselves truly. If I say I love God but I keep on having poor relationship with wife, I wonder whether I can truly live out the faith, or I am just a hypocrite. Marriages were restored through our trainings and those healthier marriages helped brothers to serve better. They could genuinely take up the responsibility of heading the family and serving the church. Without a healthy marriage, it was hard for co-workers to serve in a sustainable manner.”

“My life and relationship with my wife were totally turned around as a result of attending Open Doors’ Marriage Enrichment course,” says one lay church leader. “When I look back, I can see that I was totally ignorant about what marriage is all about. No one had taught me anything about it. I used to hurt my wife so much whenever I ignored her and didn’t care for her. I just did not know how to speak to my wife. Growing up, I had never heard my father say anything to my mother except when he scolded and quarreled with her.”

During one session in the marriage course, the leader instructed the participants to face their spouses and say one word of appreciation. “I wanted to, but the words couldn’t come out of my mouth. All around me, I could hear other husbands saying kind words. Deep in my gut, I was full of appreciation but I was speechless. My wife just looked down and would not look at me. After a long struggle, I finally blurted out, ‘Thank you for caring for my father during his sickness.’ My wife cried out loudly and broke into tears. In our 20 years of marriage, I had never once thanked her for anything.”

Now the Chinese Church offers these courses independent of Open Doors. Following his own experience with the marriage course, the above mentioned house church leader decided to help other couples in his house church network. “We formed a family ministry team to promote this project and often conducted one-day seminars for couples. Once we had as many as 80 couples attend. During the one-day seminar, we would select and teach one lesson from the full course. By God’s grace, even through just one day of teaching, we have begun to see restored and renewed marriage relationships. We asked some of the couples to share how the course helped them draw closer to each other and to God. A number of husbands have demonstrated sudden changes by doing things they have never done before, such as helping with housework and caring for the children. The positive result from the marriage courses is spreading in our churches.”

Father, You have blessed Your creation with the marriage relationship and use this sacred relationship as a picture of the divine relationship of Christ and His church. As You have transformed lives through the gospel of Christ among the Chinese people, we give You abundant praise for the transformation taking place in Chinese marriages. We pray for wives and children who have deep hurts that extend even to their very souls. Be both husband and father to them and heal the deep wounds to their lives and faith. As many Chinese couples grow stronger and parent their children in godly ways, we pray that You will increase their ministry, that their marriages will be beacons of the light of Christ spread across the nation. In the name of Jesus, the loving bridegroom of His church, Amen!

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