Lilliana and Mike, a couple who had just relocated to Arkansas from Mexico, showed up at the event in Sherwood and loved it. They spoke with Dave and Jennifer afterwards and said, “We know so many in Mexico who could benefit from this. Can we get this event there?” They were thrilled to learn a Spanish version was available.
It took two years to make it happen, but in June 2014, Dave and Jennifer drove twelve hours south of the Texas border with their three sons (ages 16, 14, and 13) along with Lilliana and Mike and their daughters (ages 18 and 20) to host two Art of Marriage events and a HomeBuilders® training in Irapuato and Leon, Mexico.
Although Dave and Jennifer had gone on similar mission trips before (they hosted four Art of Marriage events in Papua New Guinea 18 months earlier), this was the first time they’d presented the Spanish version. Although working through a translator can add an extra challenge, Dave noticed that being able to share the material in the attendees’ heart language was truly special. “It was fun to see their eyes light up,” he said. “They laughed at the jokes; the legacy pledge at the end was very heartfelt. It seemed like it really connected with the audience.”
In the second city they traveled to, they met a Mexican pastor and his wife—Rafael and Karen—who were fired up about the Art of Marriage and wanted to learn to host it so they could take it further. They served as translators for Dave and Jennifer, and following the recommendations in the host guide, they assembled a team to organize refreshments and decorations and put together a beautiful event. Before the Cooks returned home, Rafael and Karen outlined plans to get pastors together in their city and encourage them to use Art of Marriage. “We were blessed to see their enthusiasm to take the resource as their own,” said Dave. “They have plans to continue using the event in their sphere of influence.” They also had many sign up expressing interest in joining a HomeBuilders couples’ Bible study.
Rafael and Karen have also been sharing the gospel with a couple who attended one of the events Dave and Jennifer hosted. The wife had confessed to infidelity partway through the event, and the husband left the event and disappeared for several days. The Cooks learned later that the man, who had a history of depression, had tried to hang himself. After surviving the suicide attempt, he called Rafael and said he wanted to learn more about the Christian life. Since then, the couple and their children have started coming to church together and asking questions about God and salvation.
Dave and Jennifer were encouraged to see how one event in their church turned into two more outside the country, and how attendees at those events caught the vision to continue spreading the ministry on their own. Dave acknowledges that he and Jennifer didn’t feel qualified, but all it took was being faithful and open to what God was asking them to do. By going as a family, even their sons gained missions experience and saw the blessings that come from stepping out in faith. The ripple effects that started in Arkansas have spread through Mexico and into eternity.