360 CONFEREES ATTEND COUPLE’S RETREAT
Malaybalay City, Bukidnon – A head count of 360 conferees swarmed the Couples’ Retreat staged by the Arise Christian Ministries, Inc. at Mt. Moriah Camp here this 29th until the 31st day of March 2018 in order to attend and learn about, refresh, reignite or enkindle some more the sparks and fires of romantic love as God so purposed it for His children.
Out of the 360 warm bodies, who came from all over Mindanao and the province of Cebu, 118 pairs are couples totalling to 236, while the rests are widows and singles.
1st day: Presenting God’s Perspective on Marriage
After a lively praise and worship on the first night to invite the presence of God, the participants were treated directly to the main topic, which is about “God’s Perspective on Marriage”, with three speakers collaborating and stitching their respective parts to present the topic into a unified whole.
Engr. Dave Tauli ushered in the topic as the first speaker by touching and expounding on the enigma where man and wife are joined together as one flesh under the bond of marriage. He stretched the topic some more by likening and equating the union of man and his wife to that of Christ being one in Spirit with His Church. He further elucidated that “This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” He termed it as “Union in One Flesh of Man and Wife, Union in Spirit of Christ and Church.”
On said foundational claim, he urged that... “Christian couples should strive to live up to the highest standards of relationship between husband and wife” inasmuch as “married couples will be judged mainly on the level of Christ-like maturity in their marriages, not on their accomplishments in church, profession, or service to others.”
Paraphrasing the views of John Piper, author of the book “This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence” (Crossway, 2009), he cited that “The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing,” and that “When a couple speaks their marriage vows, it is not the man or the woman or the pastor who is the main actor. God is the main actor; he joins the husband and the wife into a one-flesh union.”
To round up his discussion, he posed a sobering question: “How can we grow in our marriage to be more and more like Christ?” And this he answered compellingly: “We will become better as Christian spouses only to the extent that we become better as Christians.”
Pastor Bernie Mendoza, on the other hand, who stood as the next speaker, picked Colossians 3:12 as his anchor verse where he gleaned three points as foundation for the Christian’s capacity to give and receive love. Hence, he maintained that Christians are chosen, holy and dearly loved by God and because of that they can radiate and live out the same godly hallmark in order to reach out to each other and even to the lost world.
Dr. Babes Mendoza further deepened the topic with the declaration that within the bond of marriage, the husband and wife draw much closer and closer to each other if and when they draw nearer and nearer to God as a priority. Through this deed, the Christian couple gradually conforms to Christ within the covenant of marriage.
She claimed that change or transformation ought to start first internally – in one’s self; this should not be demanded or exacted from one’s partner. As such, “while you are changing from glory to glory,” she reasoned, “God will likewise move to help change one’s partner in a gradual manner.”
For her, the basis of marriage is the operation of God’s grace within the couple. “This same grace,” she deemed, “will help the couple become patient and forbearing with each other’s weaknesses; will help change the couple’s lives; and will give the power for them to discontinue in sinning.”
Quoting Ephesians 5:27-28, she equated the example of Christ, being a loving husband for the church, as the supreme basis and model for the earthly husband to follow. Just like Christ, whose aim is to present the church to himself as a radiant wife, “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,” the earthly husbands also in same way “ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”
She urged the couples to bear in mind that no partner is perfect. Instead, what the couple should do is to pray for each other. Also, in anticipation, they should look forward to the transformation that the Holy Spirit will do in each other’s lives.
2nd day: Workshop Galore
The next day showed several workshop topics held simultaneously to improve relationships.
The topic “Love Languages” was handled by leaders from Iligan City composed of Engr. Obet Malaluan, Dr. Serge Canoy, and Pastor and Mrs. Ago Evasco. With ideas and excerpts taken from the celebrated book of Dr. Gary Chapman, the speakers, sharing to their respective groups, revealed that there are at least five recognized universal love languages that each one can relate to in one way or another, but that each one has a dominant inclination in terms of preference.
Using the Chapman Questionnaire as a jump off point, the speakers shared in their respective groups the said five love languages, which are the following: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. They all advised the conferees to learn what their respective, dominant, and specific love languages in order that they will learn to understand what ticks them as individuals. Furthermore, the couples are advised to likewise learn the love languages of their respective partners, so that they can in turn express well the desired love language of the other and be able to get through.
“Financial Management” was taken care of by leaders from the Bukidnon ministry areas namely Brother Nonit Cosio, Pastor Rolly Moscardon, and Brother Bong Pagdato. They all pointed out that the typical practice being made even by Christians is to spend money on hand and try to save some amount out of what is left. The order of priority should be to save first for things that matter most and then to spend what is left. In that way, they argued, savings would be secured first and foremost and would not be at the mercy of one’s spending appetite.
“Marriage and Discipleship” became the staple of the Katingawan ministry area to refresh the conferees that marriage is not a stand-alone commitment, but that it should be tied up and dovetailed to discipleship in response to God’s call for reproduction – both physically and spiritually. The speakers, composed of Pastor Darius Jerusalem, Mr. & Mrs. Nestor Cadungog, Mr. & Ricky Dumandan, and with back up from Dr. Frank Teves, imparted the idea that the Christian marriage should be a tool and avenue whereby discipleship can take root and prosper.
“Roles of Husband & Wife” was facilitated by leaders from the Butuan City ministry area. Anchored by Dr. & Mrs. Rolando Paluga, Pastor & Mrs. Nanding Herrera, Mr. & Mrs. Leonardo Dacanay and Dr. & Mrs. Jayrold Arcede. The conferees were made to tally respective roles as seen, practiced, and experienced by the husbands and wives respectively, to compare notes, and to share and validate what’s up and on in the bond of marriage.
Other topics of prime importance also were the “Single Blessedness” as facilitated by Armie Ballentes and Neri Matullano; “Widows in the Kingdom of God” by Leila Escalante and Judith Bayog; and “Childless Marriage” by Evelyn Lomongo and Ampie Otero.
3rd day: Renewal of Vows
The renewal of vows happened on the third and final day, which according to many was by far the most romantic and endearing. It culminated the three-day couple’s retreat and brought tearful feelings of gladness and fondness to most couples. Pastor Bernie Mendoza, who officiated the amorous event, encapsulated the prime responsibilities within the Christian marriage by refreshing the couples to follow the Biblical mandate: “Husbands, loves your wives,” and “wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands” as instructed by Paul in Ephesians 5:22 and 25.
Datu Katagan and Brod Boy with their wives
Capt. Vic Menor and Mrs. Menor