by Jayna Richardson

FamilyLife Philippines, like most ministries around the world, was forced to adapt to changes brought on by COVID-19. They shifted from face-to-face ministry to online ministry—something they optimistically dubbed “borderless ministry.” This positive outlook has served them well, particularly as they’ve enlisted Filipino couples to try out FamilyLife’s new Vertical Marriage small-group study online.

Vertical Marriage is a five-week video study that helps couples discover a more vibrant marriage by focusing first on the vertical relationship with God. Each session includes a group kickstarter to get everyone engaged and a 25-minute video session full of applicable truth, relatable anecdotes, and laugh-out-loud humor. The video sessions are expertly paired with discussion prompts for the group and a special couple’s connection project.

Norman and Sally Molinos, FamilyLife staff members in the Philippines, started an online group in April 2020 with 13 couples. The group went so well that they organized another study… and another… and another! By then Vertical Marriage was beginning to gain momentum in Davao City, and FamilyLife Philippines decided to formally launch the resource in their country.

The launch of Vertical Marriage in October saw 73 more couples join. A week after the study ended, 21 couples participated in an orientation to learn how they could run Vertical Marriage on their own. The seeds that were planted in these couples’ hearts will continue to grow and spread as they share what they’ve learned.

One couple who had been wanting to run Vertical Marriage scheduled a small-group study only one week after they went through the orientation. They were surprised with the turnout and even had to close the registration early because they already exceeded their goal. Thirty-one couples registered and showed up at the first session.

Here are some testimonies from participants:

“The Lord convicted me of my sin of disrespecting my husband. I asked him to forgive me. But I thank God it does not end there. There is still hope for me to grow in that area. I am trusting the Lord that He would cause in me the desire to always make Him my priority, to love and respect my husband, and to see our marriage a testament of His grace and love, that He may be glorified in our lives.”

“My takeaway from this series is that I need to focus on my relationship with God first, to be secure in my worth as a person and in my identity in Christ. I understand that it is only God who can truly love me and care for me. Thus, I don’t have to be needy and look up to my husband for those needs that only God can fill. It is only God who can truly satisfy my deepest longings.”

“We’re reminded to always go vertical in our marriage. It is our prayer that this legacy of love that honors God in our marriage and family will impact our own children and their children and the generations to come… and that we will be able to leave a lasting and godly legacy. We hope that we’ll also be able to share this Vertical Marriage with other couples and help strengthen marriages.”

We trust God for many lives and legacies changed as this borderless ministry continues to spread throughout homes and cities in the Philippines.