Imagine getting married in Perth, Australia having been baptised in the Indian Ocean two weeks earlier. Sounds amazing!
I could never have guessed that this would happen when I first met Lee and Bonnie eighteen months ago in London at a FamilyLife ‘A Day Together’ seminar.
Lee and Bonnie introduced themselves at the end of the couple’s seminar. They were dating. Bonnie was a Christian; Lee described himself as “interested and seeking answers”.
When I asked him about his experience of the day he said he thought that he would be “preached at”. He was impressed by the ‘normal’ couples that shared very honestly. He also liked the film clips, stories and jokes! He told us: “As a non-Christian, [it was] not what I was expecting. A very relaxed, yet informative approach to relationships that will benefit both myself and my partner.” That was all I knew until a chance email brought me into contact with the couple again recently and they shared their story.
Lee and Bonnie met at a friend’s party and started dating. Their relationship started to get “tricky with all the personal issues” they were facing. Bonnie heard at All Souls church about A Day Together for couples: married or not, and for those of all faiths and none. Lee agreed to go although he thought he was going to hear a sermon about love.
The day was incredibly helpful for their relationship. Lee said: “I could relate to the people. They said ‘we’re not perfect’ and ‘relationships are hard’.” Bonnie told us that: “the day helped us communicate properly.” The presenting couples share relationship tools and include stories of how God gives them power to forgive, to trust, and to love unselfishly and more.
Lee was surprised that he also moved on spiritually: “It was a very relaxed and practical introduction to Christianity.” Shortly afterwards Lee started an Alpha course near his home. He got involved with this lively church community and made some good friends. After a few months he “decided to get off the fence” and made a decision to follow Jesus. Later that year the couple agreed that the next step for their relationship was to get married. Lee enthusiastically told us: “A Day Together was a turning point for us. It was encouraging and gave us hope.”
FamilyLife works to strengthen relationships and to do it in a way that gives those attending a practical experience Christian relationship principles in a way that’s relevant and respectful to all. Occasionally someone will say to us: ‘your work is fantastic …but couldn’t you leave out the God stuff?’ It’s a great question.
Giving people practical tools can really benefit their relationships. But, it’s God who transforms them. Our answer to the question posed is that we would be short-changing people if we DIDN’T give them an opportunity to connect with Jesus IF its something that interests them. Lee and Bonnie’s story shows that for some people this can be wonderfully life changing.