FamilyLife Today® Podcast

HomeBuilders Heroes, Part 1

with Ken and Irma Morris | August 23, 2006
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Today on the broadcast, hear the story of Ken and Irma Morris. After living together, Ken and Irma decided to get married, but marriage, they found out, was not providing them the joy and peace they both longed for. After separating for a time, Ken and Irma decided to go to the Familylife Marriage Conference. It was there that they learned the communication skills they needed, and forgiveness began to replace the anger and bitterness they had for one another. The Morrises have been facilitators of HomeBuilders groups in their area and continue to have an impact on couples around them.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, hear the story of Ken and Irma Morris. After living together, Ken and Irma decided to get married, but marriage, they found out, was not providing them the joy and peace they both longed for. After separating for a time, Ken and Irma decided to go to the Familylife Marriage Conference. It was there that they learned the communication skills they needed, and forgiveness began to replace the anger and bitterness they had for one another. The Morrises have been facilitators of HomeBuilders groups in their area and continue to have an impact on couples around them.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Hear the story of Ken and Irma Morris.

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HomeBuilders Heroes, Part 1

With Ken and Irma Morris
August 23, 2006
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[trumpet plays a call to arms]

General: Soldiers, we are in a war, a culture war, and the enemy is out there somewhere.  Now, you can't see him, but you can see the damage his army has done as he's marched across the landscape of our families.  And it's ugly.

 Now, you soldiers know that in every army there are heroes -- one or two who rise to the top with their heroic acts, but this army is different.  Each and every one of you, you are all heroes because you are all Homebuilders.  You know, in the Bible, the Apostle Paul gave critical orders to Timothy, and he told Timothy to pass on what he had heard to other faithful men.  That's what I want you to do.  Now, in a minute, General Rainey is going to give you the details of this operation.  They are not secret.  And what you hear today you are to pass on to others.  That's all.

Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife -- by the way, at ease.

Dennis: I'm saluting.

Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Dennis: Thanks, I feel more relaxed.

Bob: thanks for joining us.  The reason that we started the program that way today is because all this week you're going to be meeting some members of the …

Dennis: No, no, no, no, not just some members -- you're going to meet some 2 Timothy 2:2 folks, you know, 2 Timothy, chapter 2 talks about no soldier who really is serious about his objective entangles himself in everyday service.

Bob: Right.

Dennis: Well, 2 Timothy 2:2 says, "And these things, which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."  You are going to meet some 2 Timothy 2:2 heroes.

Bob: They are part of that brigade, right?

Dennis: I'm telling you.  If what you hear this week doesn't light your fire, then your wood's more than wet, it's waterlogged.  You're in need of resuscitation.

Bob: These are members of the 2 Timothy 2:2 brigade, but they're part of the Homebuilder's army.

Dennis: That's right.

Bob: And you need you explain for our listeners who don't know what we mean when we say Homebuilders around here. 

Dennis: Well, it actually started on the battleground, Bob.  I was in Canada speaking at a FamilyLife Marriage Conference, and a gentleman came up to me and said, "Why don't you give us this stuff in a format that we can take back to our neighborhoods, back to our churches, back to places where we can influence others.  This is great material that you teach at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference."  And he opened a notebook, and it spilled the entire contents all over the floor, and he was murmuring, and I kind of got the point, you know, that folks wanted to pass this on.  And so we created Homebuilders, which was a small group Bible study for couples to be able to lead other couples, whether it be in their home, whether it's in someone else's home or a Sunday school or at church.

 But it's a group of four, six, maybe seven couples who get together regularly over a period of six to eight weeks who study the Scriptures and who apply biblical principles in their marriage and get to know one another in the process.

Bob: It's been interesting, because of the way they're designed, although we're talking about biblical concepts throughout, the first few sessions are really very warm and inviting for those folks who might not be regular churchgoers or might not have a relationship with Christ.  They can come into the Homebuilders group, and they'll feel right at home right away.

Dennis: Even for a person who has never led a Bible study, these things are absolutely user-friendly.  You're going to hear some stories this week, I'm telling you, that you're going to be left scratching your head, because couples whose marriages were nearly over in a matter of months had moved into this 2 Timothy 2:2 army of Homebuilders where they were impacting other people's marriages and lives.

Bob: All right, let's be honest.  This is really a recruitment week.

Dennis: That's right.

Bob: Designed to add more members to the force.  Right now, there are probably 120,000 couples across the country this year who are involved in a Homebuilders study.

Dennis: And more than a million who have gotten involved over the years in more than 20 countries around the world.  I mean, this is an international army we're talking about here, Bob.

Bob: That's right.  In fact, the couple we're going to meet today on the program, Dennis, the fellow soldiers in the Homebuilders army that we're going to be introduced to today, they spent the first 40 years of their lives chasing down a plan for relationships that didn't work and finally came up with a plan that does work.

Dennis: Yes, you know, as you were talking about them, Bob, I was thinking the couple I'm about to introduce were casualties in the war.  They had lost the good fight, and they were losing.  In fact, you're going to hear a touching story.  Ken and Irma Morris join us on the broadcast.  Ken, Irma, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Ken: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

Irma: Thank you.

Dennis: Ken and Irma live in Southern California.  They've been involved in Homebuilders for a number of years and, Ken, for you this drama that ultimately found its way out into your marriage really starts all the way back in the home that you came from.  You ran away from home when you were 15.  Why did you leave?

Ken: I had a stepfather come into the picture when I was 12 or 13 years old, and he wanted to take over and become my father.  I was already set in my ways, and because of that and because of physical abuse at 15 or 15 and a half years old, I ran away and lived with some friends and their parents and worked my way through the balance of high school.

Dennis: So as you entered into marriage, you didn't have a real good picture of what it ought to look like, did you?

Ken: You understand the cycle, which we study in Homebuilders all the time.  No, the examples that I saw how a husband and wife should be was not with my real mother and father and then again with my stepfather and mother.  It was not the way it should be.

Dennis: So you replicated it?

Ken: Exactly.

Dennis: Destructive behavior?

Ken: Destructive behavior with my first wife.

Bob: How long did your first marriage go?

Ken: The first marriage, I was married about 10 years.  I was not a Christian at that time, and went into a second relationship that turned out bad.  I took that baggage and the luggage that I had in the first relationship and took it to the second relationship.

Dennis: And weighted it down from the very start.

Ken: And weighted it down, and she brought her luggage and baggage from the previous relationship.

Dennis: Was it after that crisis that you came to faith in Christ?

Ken: About, probably, that second relationship was about eight years, and, yes, it was about half way through that relationship that we came to Christ.  However, we did not -- again, not knowing what counseling could do, not knowing that there was God's plans that we could have gone to.  That relationship ended up in a divorce.

Bob: Irma, you were born in Indonesia, grew up in The Netherlands, came to California as a teenager?

Irma: Fourteen years old.

Bob: That's a lot of travel before you're 14.

Irma: Yes.

Bob: And then went to high school here in the United States.

Irma: Yes.

Bob: Got out of high school and how long after that before you got married?

Irma: Graduated at 16 because of skipping two grades in June -- got married in December.

Bob: Pretty quick, right out of high school.

Irma: Mm-hm.

Bob: And tell me about your first marriage.

Irma: I had never dated.  He was the first guy I dated; didn't know anything about life.  I'm really not sure why I got married, but I did.  He wanted to stay out of the Vietnam War, and so we had made a decision to get married and divorced in six months just so that he could stay out of the Army.

Dennis: Wow.

 Irma: Except I got pregnant at five months, and we stayed together for 17 years, had two more children.  Never wanted to get married again.

Bob: When you filed for divorce, that was going to be it for you.

Irma: Mm-hm.

Bob: Well, what happened?

Irma: I guess God had a plan.


Bob: I guess so.  Ken certainly did, didn't he?

Dennis: Yes.  Did Ken step in and sweep you off your feet?

Irma: It was just a friendship in the beginning, and it was, like, no way, I did not want to get serious with anybody for real.  But as we got closer, we realized that we belonged together.

Dennis: So you got married?

Irma: Right, but we had baggage.  We had lots of baggage, but we had made a commitment when we got married that divorce was not an option; that we were going to work this one through no matter what.

Bob: Now, what was behind that?  I mean, you'd been married and divorced before.  You'd been in two relationships, Ken.  Why this time did you say divorce was not going to be an option for us?

Irma: It must have been God talking to us.

Bob: Yeah, do you think?

Irma: Yes.

Ken: We have no doubt, I have no doubt, because I feel as though Irma is my gift from God, and I've felt that from the very beginning, I had no doubt.  And as Irma said, we made a commitment to ourselves.  We'd already gone through divorces.  We'd already seen what the divorces did to our children.  We wanted to stop that cycle that my parents had started.  So we made a commitment to each other and to God that divorce would not be an option.

Dennis: So you were struggling a bit with this baggage you brought into the relationship.  How did you find your way to the FamilyLife Marriage Conference then?

Irma: Well, I was listening to you on the program, and I had heard about the conference on the radio, and I really wanted to go. 

Ken: But, as a man, I knew that I could fix everything.  Does that kind of ring a bell?

Bob: Sure.

Ken: And I knew I could fix everything, so there was no need to go to this conference.  And, unbeknownst to me, the conference had passed, and unbeknownst to me the following year Irma kept praying, and the following year God had put it on my heart to go to the conference.  I called and made reservations, and we went there, and it was a weekend that changed our lives totally.

Dennis: How?

Ken: Well, we learned about communication; we learned about understanding each other.

Irma: And forgiveness.

Ken: And we learned about forgiveness.

Irma: That was a biggie.  We were real honest with each other at that conference.  There were several issues that really stood between us, and at that conference we asked for forgiveness of what we had done to the other.

Dennis: Well, somehow at the conference you caught a vision.

Ken: What happened is that at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, we went to the Homebuilders portion of the conference.

Bob: This is a point in the conference where we invite couples to come and learn more about what Homebuilders is all about and how they can be involved.  It's optional, but you guys decided to come, right?

Ken: It was not an option for us.  It was not an option.  God had put it on my heart that we needed to go there.  We went there, and at that point I had no doubt that God wanted us to lead a group.  It was just impregnated into my heart.

Dennis: Had you ever led a Bible study before?

Ken: No, sir, had not.

Dennis: So you …

Bob: Hang on, hang on -- you're at this conference where you've just now forgiven one another, you're learning how to make a marriage work, and you're saying, "I need to go lead a group?"

Ken: No, I didn't say that, God did.


Dennis: What did you think, Irma?  I mean, here your husband has come to this conference, and he's kind of cleaned out some closets, and now he's turning into a Bible study teacher.

Irma: I was paranoid.  I did not even really talk in a group situation at all.  I was the quiet one that which is I was a behind-the-scenes person.

Dennis: So you didn't see yourself as kind of …

Irma: I was -- "Noooo."


Bob: I think that's pretty definite, don't you?

Dennis: Nooooooo.  So you left, you go the material.  Who did you get to join your group?

Ken: Well, we were brand-new to church.  We had only been at the church at that point for about three months.  We purchased the starter kit, a few other items, and we went home with two bags, and the following Sunday we went to the pastor to present it to him, and he looked at it, and he said, "Go for it."

 So we set a date, and we started the group at our home with five other couples.

Dennis: Were you terrified leading this?

Ken: We were totally terrified, especially because of the fact that one of the couples was a couple from our church that had been married for 35-plus years, and he was an elder in the church.


Ken: Should we have been paranoid?

Dennis:  I think you had good reason to be.  It must have worked.

Ken: It did.

Dennis: You had a good time.

Ken: We did.  The eight weeks we did the first book, "Building Your Marriage."  After that eight weeks, even that couple that had been married 35-plus years came up and said, "You know, we talked about some things that we had never, never talked about in our 35 years together," and he said, "Thank you."

Bob: Irma, you were the one who didn't like to speak in front of other people -- how did that eight weeks feel to you?

Irma: I became more comfortable with it.  I was still scared.  I get scared every time, actually, but then we have the one chapter where we separate as men -- husbands and wives -- and I had to do that one on my own.  That was a growing experience.  But the need, the passion, in us is so strong, that I knew that God would help me overcome whatever obstacle I would have, you know, what Satan would put in my path, would say "You can't do it, you can't do it," I knew God would help me, and I could do it.  I had to overcome that obstacle.

Dennis: Ken, I've got to ask you at this point, if you were seated across the table from someone who is thinking about doing this, and they just, you know, "I've never fancied myself as any kind of a leader or facilitator of a small group Bible study," what would you say to that person?

Ken: I would say simply you do not have to be.  If God is tugging at your heartstrings to do this, there is no reason why you shouldn't.  Again, you do not have to be a Bible teacher, you do not have to be a Bible scholar.  The books make it so easy for a facilitator.  And this is what we tell everybody.  So if you feel -- I would tell a person, "If you feel that God is leading you to go this direction, let's go through that door together, and we'll help you."

Bob: As you look at your involvement over the last five years, who has benefited more -- the couples who have been a part of the group with you or you guys?

Ken: There has been some couples that have benefited.  We have several couples that we have become very, very close with that were in the first book, the second book, and maybe the third book, and two of those couples, particularly, tell us continually that if it wasn't for Homebuilders they would be divorced.

 During the course of doing a session, and I don't think I'll ever forget it, because God has put something embedded on our hearts.  During that session, and argument started between a husband and wife.

Dennis: You're talking during one of the Homebuilders …

Ken: During one of the Homebuilders sessions.

Dennis: Okay.

Ken: And as the facilitators, we immediately stopped, and we walked over with them, and we had the entire group stop, and I said, "You know what we need to do?  We need to stop, hold hands, and pray."  So the SHH&P has become our …

Bob: Stop, hold hands, and pray?


Dennis: How about that.

Bob: Well, God has used Homebuilders, like I said, not only in those couples' lives but over the last five years He has used it for you guys to continue to grow in your marriage, hasn't He?

Irma: Oh, definitely, definitely.  You know, you fall back into an old groove, and you forget, and you go, "Oh, stop," you know, "This is the way God wants us to be."

Ken: God put that stop, hold hands, and pray on our hearts so much, so deep, that whenever we feel Satan is coming into the picture, we stop, and we hold hands and pray over everything.  And it has made our life so easy.  We have grown more together as facilitators.  Yes, God has used us to help a lot of other couples, but God has bound us together more closer than what we could have ever imagined.

Dennis: Irma, I'm looking at the eyes.  They're filled with tears.  Why are you crying?

Irma: Through my life, I've had it real rough, and now I'm thinking how God has used me.  Why would God even think that I was worth it to do this and to put me in this position of leadership and in guiding other couples?  You know, and that's, I think, is just so awesome that He saved me for a reason.

Dennis: Ken, you're moved by your wife's statement as well.

Ken: Because of previous relationships that we both have had.  We just thank God that we made the commitment to ourselves and to each other because even at that time, we didn't realize how much we could really love each other.  We didn't know what love was, but we do now because of the closeness that God has brought us together knowing what God's blueprints of a marriage are.  God has done it, and she's God's gift to me.

Bob: You know, Dennis, any of our listeners who have thought that to lead a Homebuilders study you need to …

Dennis: … attend seminary.

Bob: Yeah, or have your marriage all perfectly put together so that there aren't any real problems.  Ken and Irma are a great picture of a couple who are -- they remind me of the passage in the Bible where one disciple goes and gets another, and he says, "I'm just another beggar like you, but I know where the bread is."  That's what these couples do when they invite folks into their homes.  They say, "Our marriage isn't perfect.  We just know where the answers are."

Dennis: And, you know, that's what's so good about a story like Ken and Irma's.  It's not flashy, it's just the stuff of real life where a lot of people today live and, you know, if they can experience the hope, the reality of Jesus Christ in their lives where they've come from, so can you.  That's right, you can, too.  And you know what?  You can pass out that bread that Bob was talking about to other people.  And that's why all this week we've been turning to listeners and say, "We really want you to enlist in this army, this 2 Timothy 2:2 division that's a Homebuilders army to reach out in your neighborhood, your community, even your church and provide hope around marriage and family.

Bob: Yes, and wouldn't it be exciting if this fall there were a lot of homes all across the country where couples were inviting five, six other couples over, you have a potluck meal together, and you get out a Homebuilders study, and you say, "What if we met every other week, and we went through this material together to strengthen our marriages?"  And maybe some of those folks know Christ, and some of those folks don't know Christ, but in homes all across the country there were these small groups happening to build stronger marriages.  You have to believe that if that would happen in a lot of neighborhoods, it could be a turning point for a lot of couples and a lot of families and a lot of children who are in those families.

 I want to encourage our listeners, go to our website,  There is more information there about the complete line of Homebuilders couples' studies.  We have marriage subjects, parenting subjects, we have specialized Homebuilders for people who are in the military, for first responders, those who are involved in firefighting, police officers, EMTs. We've tried to design this material so that it can be easily used by any couple to help introduce other couples to practical, biblical ways to strengthen your marriage and to help you with your parenting.

 Again, our website is  If you click the little button that says "Go" right in the center of the screen, it will take you to a page where you'll find out what studies are available but also how to start a group, some ideas on what you can do in getting a group going, and this month we are making our Homebuilders studies available at a discounted price because we really want to see thousands of couples start these studies in their home this fall.

 So, again, go to the website, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, ask about Homebuilders and find out how you can get involved and join the battalion, and let's get a division going in your neighborhood reaching out to your friends and neighbors and folks from the community and introducing them not only to what the Bible has to say about marriage but, in some cases, introducing them to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 And can I say a word for just a minute, Dennis, to those folks who are listening who have been a part of a Homebuilders study.  They've gone through this material before.  One of the challenges we've received this month from folks who are participating in our challenge fund, we've received a challenge from a listener who has been part of a Homebuilders group, and they said if you've benefited from a Homebuilders group like we have, we want to challenge you to join with us and help support the ministry of FamilyLife here during the last few weeks of August.  This is our fiscal year-end.  We are ending the summer, actually, a little behind where we had hoped to be at this point.  We're about 18 percent behind our projection for the end of summer.  And so we're hoping that listeners might be able to help with a donation this month, and the challenge fund was established as listeners called in not only to make a donation but to challenge other listeners to join with them.

 And so if you've been a part of a Homebuilders group, can I encourage you to consider making a donation to FamilyLife Today and help us keep the ministry of FamilyLife moving forward in the months ahead and help us end our fiscal year in a healthy spot, too.  You can donate online at or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, and we want to say thanks in advance for your financial support, and we're also hoping that you'll join with us in reaching out to friends and neighbors with the Homebuilders studies this fall.

 Well, tomorrow we're going to meet another couple from the Baltimore area this time -- a couple who have been involved in a Homebuilders study there.  In fact, they've launched a whole bunch of Homebuilders studies, and they've got a whole lot of stories to share with us tomorrow.  I hope our listeners can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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