Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine, co-hosts of FamilyLife Today®, returned recently from FamilyLife’s third annual Love Like You Mean It™ cruise. The same week of the LLYMI cruise, another cruise ship made headlines when it lost power and had to be towed back to port, but Dennis reports that the LLYMI cruise had plenty of power—and much more than the electrical kind.
Here are some excerpts from the reports Bob and Dennis sent to FamilyLife staff, describing how they saw God working in the lives of those who participated.
Bob: For the third year in a row, we had a sellout crowd joining us on board the LLYMI cruise ship. They heard great messages from Dennis, Voddie Baucham, Priscilla Schirer, and Eric Mason. Jeff and Stacy Kemp did a great morning devotional. There were some crowded workshop rooms on board where folks heard from Ron Deal, the Kemps, Barbara Rainey, and others. And each evening, folks lined up to hear Steven Curtis Chapman, Sara Groves, Anthony Evans, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, FFH, Mark Harris, and 321 Improv. And a huge crowd showed up at 11:00 on Wednesday night to watch the “Love Sizzles” session from the Art of Marriage® (it was Valentine’s Eve, after all).
Dennis: A guest on the cruise, Carol, was talking with a woman on the ship’s crew. The woman asked, “Do all these people on board the ship go to the same church?” Carol replied, “No.” The woman inquired further: “Well, are you all in the same family or something? I mean you all seem to know one another really well …”
Carol smiled and said, “We’re kind of in the same family. It’s the family of Jesus Christ because of what He’s done for us.”
To which the woman replied, “Well I’d like to be in that family. Can you tell me how?” Carol explained the gospel of Jesus Christ to her, she prayed and asked Christ to be her Lord and Savior, and Carol welcomed her into the family!
Bob: We heard some great stories from folks about how God has used FamilyLife events and resources in powerful ways in their lives and in their marriages. We heard from an attorney who left his wife to marry his law partner with whom he was having an affair. Before long, the newlyweds were going their separate ways after work—separated because they didn’t know how to make their marriage work. Someone introduced them to Jesus and pointed them to the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. The husband said that by Saturday afternoon at the getaway he was telling his wife that he had never been as intellectually stimulated in his life. They reconciled and have since led three Art of Marriage events. When clients come to them seeking a divorce, they now counsel them using what they’ve learned from FamilyLife.
Dennis: The cruise was marked not only with ministering to couples, but also giving them a vision for how they can begin to use the Weekend to Remember, Art of Marriage Video Series, Stepping Up™ Video Series, and other tools we are creating to make an impact on others in their sphere of influence. In addition, we were continuously broadcasting the Art of Marriage, Stepping Up, and LifeReady® Woman on the closed circuit TV on board the ship—folks could stay in their rooms, hear the gospel, and be equipped.
And while we were cruising across the Gulf of Mexico, Bob and I recorded three radio programs on stage in front of a live audience of 300 guests. All three programs were stories of how God used a combination of the Weekend to Remember, FamilyLife Today, Art of Marriage, and the HomeBuilders Couples Series® Bible studies to strengthen a couple’s marriage and then turn them into HomeBuilders—couples who are helping others build godly families.
On board the ship were crew members from 65 countries. One who served us dinner was a woman who had been on the ship for six months without a day off. She shared with us that she and her husband were going home for two months on Friday to see her 12-year-old son, who was staying with her parents.
As we were disembarking the ship, I was able to track her down and give her Passport2Purity® (a resource which helps couples talk about adolescent issues with their pre-teens). She beamed with excitement, as though I’d given her gold. I prayed for her and she hugged all of us and said goodbye. May God use this tool in her son’s life.
Bob: My wife, Mary Ann, and I were among the first off the boat on Friday morning so we could hurry to the airport for a flight to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and what may be the biggest Weekend to Remember getaway this spring. More than 1,800 joined us for the weekend (just a little smaller than the size of the cruise audience).
The weekend offered a fresh reminder of the importance of FamilyLife’s new ministry to blended families, led by Ron Deal. Most of the couples who approached me to talk after one of my messages were blended couples. I kept saying, “Get a copy of Ron Deal’s book, The Smart Stepfamily, right now!”
I met a couple from Frederick, Maryland, who brought 37 couples from their church. They had 140 guys at the Stepping Up Super Saturday event on February 2, and they now have three groups going through the Stepping Up 10-week series. They haven’t done an Art of Marriage event yet—that’s planned for fall!
A little more than 8 percent of the crowd responded to the gospel. Twenty-six percent prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and 21 percent recommitted their marriage and family to Jesus. And that was only one location where we were ministering that weekend! Just one of a half dozen Weekend to Remember getaways taking place, plus hundreds of Art of Marriage events.
God’s Word is powerful. All we have to do is stay faithful and keep pouring it out. He is blessing our efforts.
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