By Jayna Richardson
“My marriage was on the verge of ending. We have hope now.”
This is what one couple shared recently following a Weekend to Remember® in Taupo, New Zealand. The couple had been considering divorce and had very little hope for their marriage, but the event changed everything.
This is just one of many similar stories that show that God is doing something incredible in the hearts and lives of families in New Zealand. Steve and Leanne Hooper, long-time staff members and speakers for FamilyLife New Zealand, have had a front-row view of the many ways God is moving in their island nation.
The Hoopers vividly remember the first Weekend to Remember they themselves attended, which started them on a path of ministering to others. The year was 1994, and they had been married for two years.
“We already had a pretty good marriage,” says Steve, “but I remember hearing the content and thinking, ‘This is fantastic!’ It was something I realized would make a huge difference, and we wanted to be part of making that happen [for others.] So we left our careers and came on board, and the rest is history.”
Over the years as Steve and Leanne have helped organize and speak at FamilyLife events, they’ve run into many couples with extreme marital dysfunction and little hope of long-term marital success. But they’ve seen many of those same couples renew their commitments and turn to God for help.
“We’ve had a number of couples contact us many years after an event saying they wouldn’t be together today if it weren’t for that life-changing event that they attended maybe ten or fifteen years ago. It’s pretty awesome,” says Steve.
They’ve also seen many couples come to their events who had no interest in church and didn’t recognize their need for God, but they did recognize their need for help in their relationships. Attending a FamilyLife event opened the door for them to hear the gospel.
One couple recently wrote to the New Zealand team and said, “Can you recommend a church for us in our area? We’ve realized that there’s something missing in our marriage relationship, and that’s a relationship with God.”
Others have experienced forgiveness, reconciliation, renewed intimacy, and stronger commitment. Quotes from a recent event provide just a taste of how God is changing hearts and drawing couples closer together:
“Wow. I came here thinking my husband was all the problem. I have forgiven him and feel like now we can start a future, especially to be role models for our kids.”
“Breathed new life and commitment into our marriage… it’s given us courage to be keeping on.”