by Bea Fishback
“What do you get when you fall in love? You only get lies, pain, and sorrow…”
At one time, these words from a popular song of the 70s mirrored my marriage with Jim. In the first six years after our wedding, we had moved four times, lived from Korea to New York, and had one young child. What we didn’t have was a marriage with communication or intimacy.
In the throes of his career as a newly commissioned officer, Jim was embedded in the demands of his job, and I found myself spending many days, weeks, and months alone. But we have a sovereign God who knows our needs, reaches to our level of pain and sorrow, and teaches us how to love again. Through a series of events, God healed our damaged hearts and mended our lives. We determined then we wanted to help military couples have successful, godly marriages.
After 20 years in the military, three overseas assignments (in Korea, Saudi Arabia, and England) and two teenagers, Jim retired from the Army. We joined the FamilyLife staff in 1995 and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, to begin our new journey as a missionary family.
By 1997 God was once again reminding us of our commitment to military couples. We still had many peers on active duty—military families who lived overseas and who were looking to FamilyLife to help them with the unique stresses of military living.
A marriage of two ministries
Again through a series of sovereign events, God moved our family to Great Britain in 1998. There we began a new “marriage”—this time a relationship between two ministries, FamilyLife and Military Ministry (also part of Cru). We believed God was moving us overseas in order to offer FamilyLife resources (now as fulltime staff members with Military Ministry) to the military stationed throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Several years ago, FamilyLife published a Bible study Jim and I wrote for the HomeBuilders Couples Series® called Defending the Military Marriage. Only God knew how vital it would be for military families after the historic, life-changing events of September 11, 2001.
FamilyLife Publishing has now produced a line of products specific to the military that include a HomeBuilders parenting study, several communication cards, and most recently a woman’s Bible study called Loving Your Military Man. Military wives are currently using this study in Europe, Hawaii, Virginia and other military installations.
During the past ten years Jim and I have had the privilege of conducting FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® events for military couples stationed in Europe and the Middle East. We have also facilitated Homebuilders studies and trained Homebuilders leaders.
A weekend of romance in Cambridge, England
One recent event sponsored by Military Ministry Europe, and supported by FamilyLife, occurred in March 2008 in Cambridge, England. Nearly 100 military couples attended this weekend of romance, during which 19 individuals indicated they prayed and received Jesus as Savior, 50 prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and 89 recommitted their marriages to God and themselves to their spouses.
Here are few of many quotes of what God did during this one event:
Husband who accepted Christ (married seven years): “Before coming here I was on a daily thought pattern of selfishness, hatred and misunderstanding. I honestly did not see us lasting another six months. Now I can’t imagine my life without her again. I don’t want it to ever get as bad again.”
Wife (married almost 15 years): “We had a very tall and strong wall built [between us], hanging on only by knowing that divorce is not an option and God will bring us through. Thank you for helping us refocus and giving us the tools to begin tearing down the wall and moving back towards oneness.” Her husband wrote: “Helped us refocus and rededicate our marriage to God and to replace our walls with forgiveness. The conference was a blessing to our marriage.”
Wife (married over three years): “This conference is amazing. A great balance of speaking God’s love and plan for our marriage, and sharing personal stories while discussing, learning, and growing with my spouse.”
FamilyLife has not only impacted U.S forces in England, Germany, and throughout Europe, but foreign forces, too. We have held Military Marriage conferences and seminars for military couples in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Latvia. A chaplain handed out 60 copies of the French translation of Defending the Military Marriage at a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Conference (healing combat trauma) in Congo. This study has also been translated into Romanian for use by their military families.