“If we reach the family, we reach the world.” – Bill Bright
Impossible. That’s what many say about the state of the family. With about half of all marriages ending in divorce and more than 18 million American children growing up in single-parent homes, what can one couple do?
Just ask Derrick and Maria Purcell … or Rodger and Gloria Henn. These two couples share a common passion: building strong godly families. They are HomeBuilders.
Derrick and Maria
When the Purcells married, they had thought that harmony would reign in their home since they were both Christians. Instead they had a rocky relationship.
Maria says that Derrick had the “I am the king of this house and you will serve me” attitude. Maria, on the other hand, had been a single mom raising three girls alone. “I wanted to be queen of the house,” she says, “and felt like my king should serve me.”
Needless to say, the Purcells’ blended marriage did not begin well. After four years of a very weak marriage, Maria heard a radio advertisement for a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. She and Derrick agreed to give it a try.
Derrick told her, “Now you will see that I am right and you are wrong.” While Maria thought, “Now Derrick will see that he’s the reason our marriage isn’t working.”
The conference was an eye-opener for the Purcells. They learned that they were each other’s gift from God and that the Lord needed to be at the center of their relationship. But they were afraid that their marriage would revert to old patterns when they returned home.
That’s why they decided to lead a small-group Bible study using FamilyLife’s HomeBuilders Couples Series®. They hoped it would not only strengthen their marriage, but also help them meet other couples. And besides that, as Maria says, “It was fun!”
Derrick and Maria have led multiple HomeBuilders groups since their first Weekend to Remember. They have also brought many couples to the marriage getaway. When they see couples attend the getaway, they think of marriages becoming stronger and healthier. “It did that for our marriage,” Maria says.
Now the Purcells are church plan leaders for the Weekend to Remember in the Maryland/District of Columbia area. “We are excited,” Maria says, “because we have a great team of couples who we encourage.” And their efforts result in changed lives. “Each marriage is being affected, changed, being made healthier and stronger through a Weekend to Remember.”
The Purcells believe that God connected them to FamilyLife and say they will be “just volunteers forever.” They enjoy telling others about FamilyLife resources: the books and anything that FamilyLife offers.
Maria says that she and Derrick have learned to do marriage God’s way. “And we are sharing what we’ve learned with everyone we meet!”
Rodger and Gloria
The Henns were married for 14 years when they went to their first Weekend to Remember. They wanted to make their good marriage even better. They loved the marriage getaway and checked a small box on the evaluation form indicating that they wanted to become FamilyLife volunteers.
They began leading a HomeBuilders Couples Series small group. Eventually they were training HomeBuilders leaders not only in the Cincinnati area, but also in Russia and St. John Island. They currently are the ministry directors for the Cincinnati and Dayton marriage getaways.
In their desire to help even more couples, the Henns often travel to various Weekend to Remember getaways across the nation. Rodger serves as an associate planner, working alongside the FamilyLife senior event planner, and Gloria is responsible for setting up and managing the on-site resource center.
Rodger says he’s really “pumped” when he volunteers at a Weekend to Remember. He and Gloria are both encouraged as they see lives changed. They consider themselves to be “roadies” for FamilyLife … or any other ministry that’s going to strengthen families and point them to God’s help.
Gloria says that her purpose in life is to share God’s love. “If I can’t even show my spouse the love of Christ, I have fallen short.” She thinks that often the missing part in a couple’s relationship is Christ. She wants her legacy to be that she didn’t live a selfish life—that she shared what God has shown her personally and in her marriage.
The Henns are excited about FamilyLife resources such as The Art of Marriage™ (a six-hour video event). They believe that it will help couples reach out to people in their communities. “We’ve got to get back to teaching couples when they get married how to have better tools to help them in their marriage,” Rodger says.
Gloria compares FamilyLife resources to driver’s education. What does a couple do when their tires hit potholes in marriage? How do they navigate the sometimes curvy roads of life? When do couples turn left, and when do they turn right? “It [FamilyLife resources] is a training that is so needed, but there hasn’t been anything out there to train people.”
Derrick and Maria Purcell and Rodger and Gloria Henn are willing helpers. God is working mightily through them. These HomeBuilders are helping change the world … one home … one marriage … one family at a time.
Read more remarkable stories of changed lives and legacies.
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