We’ve had a great little ‘paper circus’ up on the wall, a visible discussion, since about October. As we talked about ‘what was next’, we knew God was calling us to the rural areas in the province of Loja to serve and minister there. So we had our sticky notes, our circles, our lists up on the wall as we walked through the Where, the What and the How of moving and the ministries we could be involved in.
They are still there, but only because nobody’s taken the time to take them all off the wall, because none of our paper circus even applies anymore. You see, WE had it all figured out. We were definitely praying, and we kept walking in faith, but our search for our life-to-be in the province never seemed to bring the peace or excitement we were expecting.
And, at the same time interesting things were happening right here in Loja. It seemed that on a regular basis our Spanish teacher Maria would bring up conversation themes and activity topics that pertained to relationships and marriages in this culture. We became involved in helping someone go through a very difficult marriage challenge. We were sharing about relationships at two different retreats. A young woman I was mentoring got married….
We thought we had it all figured out, but then marriages, marriages, marriages became the constant theme, and sadly very rarely was it because they were good, healthy, flourishing, stable, God-honoring, or joy-filled.
In many cases, marriage doesn’t really matter here (or other places as well). It is convenient, it offers stability, but it is often not a lifelong commitment, but rather a pretty shaky, come and go business partnership. And, for many who believe in God or have a ‘religion’, for some reason, this religion doesn’t seem to apply to their marriages. So many homes are broken. So many women are abused. So many affairs are happening….
And, it upset us. Both. A lot.
Why should marriage be such a negative thing? Yes, it is hard. Very very hard. But, in that hardness can also be fulfillment, joy, companionship, healthy families, security…and could you even believe LOVE???
And so, we realized that there is a great need here in Loja to encourage/strengthen/mentor marriages. We also realized that we have passionate hearts to see marriages and families functioning the way that God intended them to function. And, we’ve begun to see how reaching people in their most intimate relationships might allow us to help them see their need for an even more intimate relationship with the One who created marriage.
And, so here we are still in Loja. In Loja and understanding that God wants to keep us here to build a ministry around marriages. In Loja and joyful in seeing that He is allowing us to continue to live the “life” we’ve been building here over the last 16 months. In Loja and very excited to see how He will use this ministry to reach the hearts of more of our neighbours. And, yes, a little nervous about how it will all go!
Our hope is to begin an 8 week series in March that will walk a small group of couples through God’s design for marriage while we work to give them tools to succeed as a loving and committed couple.
There is lots to plan, with lots of things that are still unknown. But, it has been encouraging as we’ve mentioned to shopkeepers and taxi drivers and friends our intentions and there has been overwhelming interest. Please pray that people will be interested and will attend and will allow their hearts to be changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ!