When Roger and Laura Dye began planning a ministry trip to the coast of Colombia for a pastors’ marriage seminar and FamilyLife training, they knew they needed to be ready to adapt to inevitable last-minute changes and surprises. The relaxed attitude in Santa Marta can be frustrating to someone who is trying to nail down concrete details. The Dyes decided to adopt an attitude of flexibility and adapt as needed—a wise decision considering the many changes in plans they experienced over the course of their trip.
First, the conference was shortened at the last minute from four full days to two and a half days. The Dyes learned of the change five days before the conference and had to quickly rethink their schedule. Next, they learned the day before the event of five new couples who were planning to attend. This led to last-minute scrambling to figure out how to provide enough manuals for all the attendees. The day of the marriage seminar, the projector arrived an hour late, and the AC was unable to keep up with the hot temperatures, so Roger dripped sweat and tried to stay hydrated as he spoke throughout the day, changing the schedule as needed to fit each new situation that arose.
Despite these challenges, the 29 couples who attended the marriage seminar left very positive feedback about the day. Of the 42 individuals who turned in evaluations, 34 said they would like to start a HomeBuilders group. Others expressed interest in training couples, hosting a seminar, or financially supporting the ministry. One attendee wrote, “This was God’s answer for my life. God was literally speaking to me.” Another said, “I was reminded of my first and primary ministry—my own home.” Many expressed the need for family ministry in their churches and spoke of their desire to help other couples.
During a session on facing crises together, one of the pastors shared that his heart had been touched and that he realized he had a habit of being too harsh with his wife. He announced in front of everyone that his intent was to be more tender toward her from now on. She was overcome and could no t respond right then. Later that day, she took the microphone and shared that she had not wanted to come to a marriage event, and almost didn’t. She was tired of the difficulties in her marriage and didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to put up with it. But she explained that now she has hope, not only for their marriage, but also that they would be able to help the hurting marriages all around them.
Although the flow and organization of the event changed continually, God was clearly at work in these couples’ hearts. As the Dyes and other organizers adapted to the ever-evolving plans, they were able to experience the joy of ministry rather than frustration. Most importantly, they saw God at work—and acknowledged that sometimes a change in plans is actually a gift from Him.