Although the first couple of years of marriage were at times a little turbulent, Steve and Leanne Hooper settled into a comfortable relationship that they felt was pretty good. They had been married for two years when they attended a Weekend to Remember® in Auckland, New Zealand. Although they had a good marriage, the conference showed them what was really possible.

“After attending the weekend, we came away with a purpose and a plan for marriage that would ensure our relationship was better than just ‘good’!” says Steve.

Working at the bank, Steve spent a lot of time in the loans department doing settlements. “What I found was that a significant portion of the settlements I was doing were for couples who were separating—people who found themselves in a position where they had to sell their assets and split the money; half would go to him and half would go to her. This really disturbed me because I felt like I was indirectly helping these couples to separate, and I wished there was something I could do.”

Volunteering with FamilyLife seemed like the perfect opportunity to help other couples have a great relationship.

Although volunteering was great, God had something bigger in mind for them. It wasn’t long before Steve and Leanne felt God leading them to give up their careers at the bank and join the ministry of FamilyLife full time, where they would be required to raise their own financial support.

“For me to leave my secure, paying job and move to a ‘by faith’ system… that was a big step,” Steve says. “But then every time I opened my Bible, God would show me a verse like, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow’ or ‘Consider the birds of the air, or the flowers of the field… God looks after them; how much more will He look after you?’ I eventually ran out of excuses.”

Since 1990, FamilyLife New Zealand has organized hundreds of events with thousands of  people in attendance, many of whom have prayed to receive Christ or rededicated their lives and families to God as a result of the events.

The numbers are impressive, but it’s all about the individual changed lives—like one couple who was planning to separate on the Monday following the conference, yet was restored in one weekend when they allowed God to come into their lives. Their little boy told them afterwards with tears in his eyes that he couldn’t stop smiling because he knew something was different.

Steve and Leanne have also noticed the impact FamilyLife continues to have on their own marriage. “Every time we run a FamilyLife event, we ourselves are again reminded of something we can get back on track with,” says Leanne. “What a privilege to be surrounded by this positive input continually!”God is using Steve, Leanne, and the New Zealand FamilyLife team to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of couples every year.

Testimonies from a marriage conference:

“I’m writing to say a huge thank you for an amazing weekend.  We were in such a traumatic stage that we wondered if we would still be together by the time the conference was held. During lunch on Sunday, my husband turned to me and said. ‘I will never leave you.’  They are words I have longed to hear and I was quite overcome.  I can now relax in my love for him, knowing that in the hard times we will stick together.”

“I commend and encourage you to keep speaking at these seminars.  Your voices are needed.  The strength you demonstrate to positively impact couples is truly inspirational.  We have family members who need your message.  I will be canvassing them actively to sign up to attend a weekend.  Thank you for staying the course.”

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