If you’ve ever visited the bustling Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke in New Zealand, you know there’s no mistaking their main industry: kiwifruit. They’re everywhere—on road safety signs, on the “Welcome to Te Puke” greeting, and marking the entrance to the attraction Kiwi 360. The small furry brown fruit is a mascot for the region.

But lurking beneath is a town reeling from the crippling Psa disease, which has caused many orchardists to cut down hectares of vines in the past two years. We heard that some growers with the more susceptible gold variety have cut down every vine and started again, leaving them in a negative equity position with no income.

Needless to say, it’s a devastating crisis that has left a lot of uncertainty and heartache in many homes. And this is where our friend Chrissi comes in. She approached us last year with a desire to run a seminar in her home town of Te Puke to encourage people in their relationships. After getting the go-ahead, she approached the local ministers’ association and asked them to select a motivated couple from each of their churches to form an organizing team.

Together they approached businesses in the area for sponsorship. Their creativity and passion for serving was evident and was a great picture of people and churches functioning so well together.

As a result of the team’s promotion and the backing of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. who sponsored several couples to attend, an amazing 57 couples joined us for an awesome day. Here are just a couple comments:

“This has got us talking—opening up. We haven’t talked for a long time.”

“After a really rough patch in our marriage, this has given me hope.”

“Refreshed our relationship, putting back into place a few things that have slipped. There is hope in all of us.”