"If you want to be a garbage collector, you have to go through two weeks of intensive training to become one...(but)...if you want to get married, all you have to do is make a sound at the altar, and you're in." -Dr. Howard Hendricks (Dallas Theological Seminary)
In July, we had the incredible opportunity to celebrate FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary in Little Rock, Arkansas with FamilyLife staff and volunteers from all over the world. It was a powerful time of honoring those who had laid the foundation for the far reaching and transforming work that FamilyLife is doing today through couples like us all over the world.
Dennis Rainey, Crawford Lorrits, Al Mohler, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Bryan Lorrits, Michael Jr., and Acts of Renewal encouraged our hearts with amazing messages, and we heard from many people who told the story of FamilyLife. One woman's story in particular, Ney Bailey, touched our hearts. She is a single woman who has countless stories of God's faithfulness and power, and it was her tears and broken heart that sparked the launch of this marriage ministry called FamilyLife.
“In 1971, I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, and part of my job was to help oversee Cru staff women on college campuses in eight states. My heart was grieved when I visited the home of a couple whose marriage appeared to be in trouble. Six years later I encountered the same couple...they had been promoted, but their marriage difficulties had worsened. To think that they'd been given more responsibility and yet their marriage issues had been ignored broke my heart.
“During the next meeting of leaders for Cru's outreaches in the U.S., we all talked about our most recent travels. I spoke of my dismay about the couple and their situation. Deeply burdened and with passion, I said, ‘Here we are helping to reach the world for Christ, and we are hurting on the inside. How long are we going to promote people when they are having difficulties in their marriages?’
“And then without warning to myself or the others, I began to cry, and the crying turned into sobs as I put my head on the table and wept for what seemed like a long time…it was as though God was crying through me. There was a "holy hush" in the room. When I was finally able to lift my head, our director, Paul Eshleman said, ‘Ney, what do you want us to do?’ ‘I don't know, Paul, but we've got to do something.‘
At a conference in 1975, this statement by Dr. Howard Hendricks (Dallas Theological Seminary) brought Ney back to her burden to help marriages - “today in Dallas, if you want to be a garbage collector, you have to go through two weeks of intensive training to become one...(but)...if you want to get married, all you have to do is make a sound at the altar, and you're in.”
It was in 1976 that Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) began a "Marriage Preparation and Family Emphasis", hosting premarriage conferences for its missionaries. From this emphasis, FamilyLife grew into the ministry that over the past 40 years has changed countless lives, marriages and legacies, including ours. Watch this video with Dave & Sandy Sunde, Ney Bailey, and Dennis & Barbara Rainey, starting at 1:01 to hear the genesis of FamilyLife.
Because of this burden Ney Bailey had for marriages, our lives, marriage, and legacy was raised from the dead. You can listen to how God raised our marriage from the dead here, as we shared about our divorce and remarriage on FamilyLife Today. Ney has incredible stories, it was great to spend time with her to hear her heart and encouragement.
Highlights of our experience including time with Dennis & Barbara, as we thanked them for changing our lives in many ways! Because of their faithfulness with FamilyLife, God raised our lives and marriage from them dead through the Weekend to Remember. Then, FamilyLife has equipped us to impact the lives, marriages, and legacies of thousands of couples through The Art of Marriage, The Art of Marriage Live, this blog, and the opportunity to encourage others with the hope that we've been given. We spent time with Bob & Pam Stelter, a precious Nebraska couple who we've been on the FamilyLife journey with since 2010.
"This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells]…" -Hebrews 6:19 AMP
We are embarking on the next part of our journey, taking steps in our calling as we become full time missionaries with Zoweh Ministries in Durham, NC. With Zoweh, we will provide men and women the opportunities to understand what they have experienced in their lives, acknowledge wounds, and take steps with Jesus in healing those wounds. We are stepping into more, and would love to have you step into more healing, redemption, freedom, and LIFE with us!
To come alongside us in this mission financially, start your giving at https://allies.zoweh.org/support-the-jennings/ or mail your check to: Zoweh Team Jennings, P.O. Box 2261, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2261.
You can watch all the FamilyLife's 40th Anniversary Celebration Videos here.