By Jayna Richardson

Eduardo and Diana Rivadeneira never could have predicted the path God had planned for them. After ten years of marriage, their relationship was broken. Years of alcohol, drugs, and infidelity had led them to separate. But everything changed when they turned to Jesus in the midst of their hopelessness and placed him on the throne of their lives. After God restored their marriage at a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway in Ecuador, they made a pact to help as many other couples as possible, and they’re experiencing the joy of being used by God to make a difference.

That first Weekend to Remember was the spark that led to more than twenty years of serving as volunteers for FamilyLife. Over the years, the Rivadeneiras have used FamilyLife tools such as small-group studies, Art of Marriage®, and Stepping Up® to reach out to Hispanic communities in the US and Latin America, and they’ve been trained to speak at FamilyLife events.

“God placed in our lives FamilyLife’s tools, which led to the restoration of our marriage. This, in return, stirred up a passion in us for helping couples and families who have suffered and are going through what we went through,” says Eduardo.

Over the years, God gave them many opportunities to minister to hurting couples, and they saw Him restore relationships and families time and time again. One couple whose marriage was turned around told them, “You are an essential part of the process that God has used to restore our family.”

After twenty years of volunteering, Eduardo and Diana felt God leading them to an even higher level of commitment: raising support to join FamilyLife as full-time staff.

“At first, we wanted to trust our own abilities and strength. Oh, how wrong we were! We planned our best human strategies… but it yielded very little results. Then we understood that it had to be God’s way, in His strength, in His time. We learned to do our part and wait on Him.”

The process of raising enough monthly support to join full-time staff took Eduardo three years (Diana is still working toward this goal), and it wasn’t without plenty of challenges. But it also came with happy surprises as God brought certain donors that the Rivadeneiras never would have expected.

When asked what they envision for their future plans as FamilyLife international representatives, Eduardo replied, “We have learned not to plan for ourselves because experience has shown us that our plans are limited, but God’s plans always exceed our expectations. What we are aware of is that we have to be prepared, ready, and willing for what He calls us to do.”

However God chooses to use the Rivadeneiras, they are passionate about God and about pointing every couple who comes across their path to Him.

Eduardo and Diana never imaged that when God restored their marriage more than two decades ago that He would have so much more planned for them than simply having a better marriage. Their gratitude gave rise to a hunger for sharing His Word and seeing others experience the same miracle. As Eduardo says, “God’s plans are always perfect!”