By Christine Daniels
Imagine being baptized in the Indian Ocean and then getting married two weeks later in Perth, Australia. Sounds amazing! I could never have guessed that this would happen when I first met a dating couple named Lee and Bonnie eighteen months ago in London at a FamilyLife seminar.
Lee and Bonnie introduced themselves at the end of the couples’ 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 he would be “preached at.” But he was impressed by the normal couples who 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 me 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 personal issues they were facing. Bonnie heard at All Souls church about A Day Together for couples who were 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, “The day helped us communicate properly.” The presenting couples shared relationship tools and included stories of how God gives us power to forgive, trust, love unselfishly, and more.
Lee was surprised that he also moved forward spiritually. “It was a very relaxed and practical introduction to Christianity,” he said. Shortly afterwards Lee started an Alpha course near his home. He got involved with a 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 an experience of a very practical Gospel 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 they’re interested. Lee and Bonnie’s story shows it can be wonderfully life changing.