By Jayna Richardson
The challenges of ministering to marriages and families around the world are enormous. Globally, divorce rates have increased by more than 250% since 1960. While every country faces obstacles unique to its own culture, the results everywhere are the same—broken families in need of help and hope. Fortunately, God is raising up laborers around the world who have a passion for helping families and teaching biblical truth.
FamilyLife staff and volunteers from twenty-six countries recently came together at FamilyLife’s headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, for a time of training, refreshment, and encouragement. They participated in sessions on engaging Millennials and blended/non-traditional families, learned about new resources including FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting®, and spent time praying about and sharing with one another the ways they’re using FamilyLife in their countries. Although their tools and methods vary depending on the needs of their cultures, one thing they can all agree on: God is at work in families around the world, and they’re excited to be part of what He’s doing.
Guillermo and Ana Baños, who have been volunteers with FamilyLife for fourteen years in Guatemala, shared that the reason they’re involved with FamilyLife is that they’ve committed to make their own family strong, and it’s that commitment that compels them to want to help other families be strong. “God surprised us by showing that a common couple like us could be used in the ministry,” they said. One great encouragement to them is that in every conference or seminar they’ve done, there’s always a “miracle couple”—someone whose life or marriage is miraculously restored by the power of God.
These global staff and volunteers are used to pouring themselves out for others, and the work is rewarding, especially when they see marriages saved or hearts drawn to the Lord. But it can also at times feel tiring, thankless, and discouraging. “This week has been a time of refreshment for us as a couple,” said one attendee. “It was a chance to get away and be ministered to.” Others agreed: “It provided time away from everyday pressures to come before the Lord, to be refreshed and challenged.”
Participants left feeling energized and excited for continuing the difficult but fulfilling work of family ministry. We pray that the sparks of creativity, vision, and passion that were reignited will continue to bear fruit in the many countries represented at this summit.
FamilyLife Global plans to host another summit for international partners and volunteers in 2020.