“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”–Acts 6:3
Avni and Maklen Menalla, FamilyLife directors of Albania, had an objective to start a network of volunteer leaders with FamilyLife so that a movement would spread in Albania. They developed a training camp experience to give the participants vision for FamilyLife so that they could start a FamilyLife movement in their churches and cities and also invest in their own marriages. Avni and Maklen targeted key couples who have been part of a FamilyLife event in the past. They looked for couples who had already demonstrated leadership potential.
These couples received vision for FamilyLife and training on various topics. They also participated in a HomeBuilders small group. Each couple had a chance to facilitate the discussion. This gave them confidence that they can facilitate a HomeBuilders group. They were encouraged in how to trust and ask God to give them a vision for their churches and cities, and in how to start a Family Life movement and thus impact the lives of other couples for Christ.
Avni and Maklen also had creative and meaningful fun with the couples by watching movies like Fireproof and Facing the Giants, learning to waltz, playing games, and singing karaoke. These things helped all the couples get to know each other more and enjoy good fellowship and fun.
Was their mission accomplished? Here is how some of the participants answered the question “What steps will you take as a result of this time here?”
• “We will get the church couples together and share with them what we have learned.”
• “This camp has sharpened my vision and has helped me to start a small group.”
• “The camp has had a great impact in us. We think God will use us in our church with other couples.”
• “It has clarified a lot of marriage principles. It makes us do something in our church.”
The camp experience was life changing for all of the couples. Tony and Linda have been married for a little over five years. During the HomeBuilders discussion with their small group, Linda was convicted by the Spirit that she needed to improve regarding conflict in her marriage. She realized that many times when she and her husband had conflict, she would concentrate on the few things about him that annoyed her. “The discussion revealed the selfishness in me,” she said. After the discussion, she and Tony talked about that problem and shared with the rest of the couples how God had helped them. After asking God for forgiveness, they apologized to each other for leaving room for evil to interfere in their marriage, and asked each other for forgiveness.
The last night of the camp they organized a romantic dinner for the couples where each of the partners had the opportunity to write and then read a love letter to each other. “It was wonderful to see husbands and wives express their gratitude to God about their spouses,” said Avni and Maklen. “Tears were hard to hold back as you heard spouses encourage, praise each other, and speaking with edifying words. The waiters that served us were stunned by the way couples treated each other and the words they heard spoken. One of them said that he had never seen such a beautiful thing.”