Don't you just love it when a plan comes together! God is the author and initiator of the marriage relationship, and he loves it when people do marriage HIS way and follow his plan! In Vanuatu, cultural taboos prevent parents from discussing marriage and "friending" (dating) relationships with their children. We never hear about a marriage enrichment retreat or any marriage type workshop being offered at the churches in Vanuatu. This has been a burden on our hearts for most of the six years that we've served as missionaries in this country. There are a number of couples in our churches who have never married, either in a traditional way or in a church wedding. They have come to know Christ as their Savior, but for a variety of reasons, have never gotten married. With this in mind, we proposed that the local Nazarene Churches come together to help provide a wedding for those couples in our churches that wanted to step forward to publicly unite their relationship in a Christian marriage ceremony.
We decided that any couple who wanted to participate in the wedding would need to attend a marriage retreat that we would offer the weekend prior to the wedding. We found some great Christian Melanesian marriage resources that we could give to the participants, and Pastors Peter and Jenny joined us in teaching God's plan for marriage. It was interesting to watch the couples when they first arrived and took their places in the church to listen to the first lesson. Not one couple was seated together! So, before we got started we had everyone shift around so that they were seated next to their partner. Although they giggled and seemed embarrassed, it was delightful to see them begin to talk and consult with each other. This retreat was a small step in helping these four couples begin to see marriage as a gift from God with truths from his Word that will bring blessing and joy to a relationship that was previously characterized by conflict. We look forward to offering more classes on Christian marriage and family relationships in the coming months.