We recently returned home from speaking in a movie theater in Christchurch. Popcorn not included.

Last year we were approached by a local pastor in Canterbury who asked if we’d be able to come down and run “A Day Together” marriage seminar. He had secured some funding and wanted to encourage local families who had been through a tough time with eighteen months of earthquakes and aftershocks. We of course were happy to help, even though we felt a little under qualified to share with people who had experienced such a unique and life-changing crisis.

We only recently heard back from him again—he’d had difficulty finding a suitable venue, but eventually selected a movie theater. The Reading Cinemas had been hit hard by the February earthquake and closed for several months. Once it reopened, his church began meeting there regularly for their services.

It was encouraging to see so many couples pour through the doors of the cinema, and we enjoyed sharing with them through the day, along with our friends and key FamilyLife volunteers Malcolm and Biffy Savage who traveled with us.

During the day there were a couple of rumbles, which made all the locals noticeably stiffen. It turned out to be the low bass rumble coming through the wall from the theater next door that was playing The Avengers, but it gave us an indication of what the constant stress level must be like for many who are living on the edge, expecting the next big aftershock.

We were overwhelmed by the response and had a number of conversations with people who shared freely how much they appreciated the opportunity to get away for a day and invest in building their relationship. And no one disappeared to watch The Avengers next door.

Here are a few comments:

“This has been a great source of wisdom and a catalyst to some great conversations with my lovely wife.”

“It has been great to consider things I haven’t thought about. We’re getting married at the end of the year.”

“Communication will be easier with my husband; this will indeed help my marriage.”

“This seminar has been fantastic, very enjoyable, with very good tools on how to improve our marriage. Thank you very much for today; we would love to come again and will be encouraging others to come too.”