“Some men showed courage throughout their lives; others sailed with the wind until the decisive moment when their conscience and events propelled them into the center of the storm,” wrote John F. Kennedy in his Pulitzer-prize winning book, Profiles in Courage. It takes courage to take decisive and extraordinary actions. It takes courage to engage in a battle.
Today, we all find ourselves in a battleground. A different kind of war heavily pounds right on our front doors—husbands who do not lead and serve, wives who won’t submit and show support; couples do not keep their vows, violence creeps in, children are neglected, homes are torn apart. Every day, the hearts of fathers, mothers, and children are right in the line of fire. Sadly, homes are not bulletproof. It’s just a matter of time when each home will get caught in the crossfire of family disintegration if we do not join the fray and gird ourselves for this battle. It is a costly fight. And it may be the most important battle we ever fight.
Over the last 14 years, FamilyLife Philippines has taken this battle cry across the country. Through “I Still Do” marriage seminars, Weekend to Remember getaways, parenting seminars, HomeBuilders, and partnerships with like-minded groups and churches, we continue to help transform families to become lighthouses in their community and agents of change in this and succeeding generations for God’s glory.
Take Tony and Esther Royeca’s story. In the first eight years of their marriage, they were preoccupied with church planting. Pastor Tony shared, “We were highly committed to serving the Lord, but we were struggling.” The demands of ministry, home life, and mid-life transitions had slowly weighed them down. They felt there was no one to turn to at the peak of their struggle. In 1998, the Lord paved the way for them to fly to Davao for a Weekend to Remember (WTR) marriage conference. At the WTR, God spoke to both of them in ways they could not ignore. Tony said, “It is important to know the biblical principles for marriage. When we understand the biblical basis, we can choose to pursue God’s plan and purposes. After the WTR, I realized that my wife is not a hindrance, not an enemy. I have learned to accept her as a gift from God.”
Coming home from the conference, they began to follow God’s blueprint and by His grace, changes took place in their marriage. This life-changing experience also moved them to organize a WTR in their area the following year. One hundred couples attended the conference in the Tacloban area. Soon, they became FamilyLife’s Champion Couple in Tacloban City and led a HomeBuilders group among pastors to mobilize them to reach out to families in their respective communities.
Their commitment in pursuing God’s agenda for the family bore fruit not just among the couples in their group but beyond. FamilyLife was tasked and given permission by the local government to conduct “I Still Do” marriage seminars in 100 barangays (districts)! Of the 100, their team has reached about 30-40 barangays in the last few years. Pastor Tony and Esther described this experience as a “journey of personal life transformation.” They enthused, “We have caught the vision.”
Pastor Lito Gomez caught the same vision. Invited by Pastor Tony to attend a WTR in 2004, God has been using him to start weekly couples meetings in his neighboring barangays!
And as God has used FamilyLife’s marriage seminars and conferences to bring help and hope, He also makes use of HomeBuilders groups as a discipleship tool among couples. This is the place where we see significant changes and God’s work up close and personal. When God begins to transform a marriage, hope floats indeed! His power makes it possible for couples to keep their marriage covenant.
The war for the family rages. If this and the future generations truly matter to us, then let us gird ourselves up for this battle. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand strong against the threats and schemes of the real enemy. Stand your ground, put on your shoes and your helmet and take the Word of God with you as your sword. March on and fight for the destiny of your family!