Mary May Larmoyeux
What do busy offices, community centers, individual homes, rural churches, mega churches, hotels, and family reunions have in common? They have all been sites for FamilyLife’s new video event, The Art of Marriage® conference.
Containing six fast-paced sessions, The Art of Marriage weaves together the teaching of respected pastors and marriage experts with real-life testimonies, man-on-the street interviews, and humorous vignettes. And it just doesn’t seem to matter where it’s shown.
Just ask Joe and Kelly Paulo, Joel and Trudy Hildenbrand, or Kristy and Donnie Corbett.
Joe and Kelly Paulo: Astonished at the response
After experiencing their first Art of Marriage video conference, Joe and Kelly Paulo wanted to share it with others. Joe, the director of broadcasting and general manager for radio stations WRCM (Charlotte, NC) and WMHK (Columbia, SC), immediately thought of their listeners. The stations had sponsored concert events for their communities. “So why not put on a marriage event to help strengthen marriages?” Joe asked.
With no idea what to expect, WMHK hosted an Art of Marriage conference on February 11, 2011. They initially planned for 35 couples and were astonished when 175 couples registered. “We probably could have taken a few more,” Joe says, “but we ran out of books and it was too late to order more.”
The Paulos, who emceed the event, were surprised by the number of people who told them, “If this didn’t speak to us, we were headed for divorce.” Couple after couple expressed their appreciation to the Paulos and to WMHK.
The first night a woman came up to Kelly in tears. The woman explained that her husband had been unfaithful multiple times. “I don’t know what God wants for me,” she said, “but I told my husband I was going to this and wanted him to come. He came.”
At the end of The Art of Marriage conference the woman and her husband both walked up to Kelly. They told her that God had done what had seemed impossible. After watching the video sessions, the couple had genuine hope that their marriage would make it. “That’s one of those things where you find yourself just in tears,” Kelly says. “I just remember sitting there thinking, I’m shaking, this is so incredible.”
Joe recalls a young couple who came to him and asked for someone to pray with them. The wife had realized that her life had been a lie. “I really don’t know Jesus,” she said, “and I want to accept Him tonight.” And the husband confessed that although he knew Christ as his Savior, he had not been following His ways. “I want to recommit my life to Him,” he said.
Because of the impact that The Art of Marriage had in Columbia, WMHK’s sister radio station, WRCM, will repeat the video conference in Charlotte on October 21-22. “We saw how God can use it,” Joe says, “and thought, This is something we absolutely need to do in Charlotte as well!”
Joel and Trudy Hildenbrand: He sold four antique rifles
Joel heard about The Art of Marriage on a FamilyLife Today radio broadcast. He and his wife, Trudy went to one of the premier showings on February 11, 2011. After watching the sessions, Joel knew immediately that he wanted to do all that he could to help others in his rural community see the videos.
“I think Art of Marriage grabs people’s attention,” Joel says, “There is humor in there and there’s serious stuff in there and there is also the gospel message and there’s hope for people.”
An avid outdoorsman, Joel sold four of his antique rifles and used part of the proceeds to purchase the Art of Marriage kit and 25 manuals. He is also buying a projector and DVD player with speakers with the remaining proceeds.
In July 2011, the Hildenbrands hosted their first Art of Marriage event for a small group of four couples. After one person indicated that he received Christ as his Savior and Lord, Joel said: “That is worth it all.”
A man in his 50s wrote on his Art of Marriage comment form that he had been in church almost all of his life, but “I never realized that marriage had so much behind it.”
Joel and Trudy have now signed up to help promote FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. They want to encourage people who watch Art of Marriage to follow up with a Weekend to Remember. They are excited about their ministry opportunities through FamilyLife tools like Art of Marriage.
“What we like about the FamilyLife ministry,” Joel says, “is that … it allows us to have a ministry and tools where we didn’t have to go to theological seminary to do what we are doing.”
Donnie and Kristy Corbett: Strengthening marriages at work
In February 2011 Donnie and Kristy Corbett participated in one of the first Art of Marriage events. As they watched the videos, Kristy says that they realized that they had never known how to correctly handle problems, “or even how to talk to each other.”
Through the real-life testimonies and humorous vignettes, they saw examples of God’s design for marriage. They realized that they were gifts from God to one another and wanted others to know about His plan for marriage.
A few weeks after attending The Art of Marriage event, Kristy asked the president of her company if she could show the resource to her colleagues. He quickly gave his approval; he told her that he had wanted to somehow help his staff strengthen their marriages. Kristy was thrilled. She hoped that Art of Marriage would give hope to one particular couple whose marriage was in trouble.
“My intentions were to reach out to one couple,” Kristy says, “but God’s intentions were much greater. Eleven couples ended up attending attending the Art of Marriage event that the Corbetts hosted in the office. Ten people made first-time professions of faith—including the husband and wife who had been having serious marital problems before the event.
The Art of Marriage is grabbing couples’ attention, and it doesn’t seem to matter where it’s shownin an arena, family room, or office building. “I’m trying to set up as many places as I can to show it,” says Joel, “in a living room or a barn or wherever.”