We are just getting unpacked and recharged after the second of two Pittsburgh "Weekend to Remember" conferences. Taya and Isaiah were able to come along for this fabulous weekend and it was so awesome to see God at work as a family.
In our last prayer letter we mentioned that we had been specifically praying that God would bring the most broken and hopeless situations to this conference along with many that didn't yet have a relationship with Christ. God answered those prayers in a big way. We have been to many conferences over the years, but we can't ever remember being at a conference with so many people who were completely hopeless and desperate for help in their marriage.
Over the course of the weekend we received many prayer requests echoing that hopelessness; Bill asked "that God would take away my urge to drink." and there were numerous other requests from people who said that an addiction of some kind has been destroying their relationships. We also had so many requests from people who had been separated or near divorce in the days leading up to the conference. The hopelessness was heartbreaking, but over the weekend these couples realized that reconciliation was possible and they began asking God to help them do the hard work to make it happen.
It’s a sobering thing to see a person muster up enough faith to scribble a prayer request when their whole world feels like it’s caving in, and then to watch God come rushing in to bind up their broken heart and give them hope (it reminds us of the story of the woman who said "If I could just touch Jesus coat...I could be healed."). We saw it happen over and over again this weekend, and as we mentioned earlier, we can't remember ever being at a conference where there were so many people headed for divorce but left the conference with hope that they could have a strong family.
After the conference we began to sort through the evaluations, looking for the "Top 10" comments of how God had worked in the lives of the couples. It was impossible to do. Our Top 10 list quickly grew to a Top 20 and so many other amazing stories continued to trickle in. Ross told the team: "isn't that just like God, every time you try to put Him in a box by saying "Let's look for ten things God has done" He makes it impossible to stop at even twenty or thirty."
Clearly God was at work. We immediately stopped and prayed that God would never let us forget how He answered our prayers, brought salvation to the lost, gave hope to the hopeless, and wouldn't let us confine him to a box or a Top 10 list. The god of Islam can't even relate to his creation and is nothing apart from the Koran, the gods of Buddhism or Hinduism can't even be known, offer no help, and eventually lead to nothingness. But our God is alive among us... He is a mighty savior... He takes delight in us with gladness... With His love, He will calm all our fears... He rejoices over us with joyful songs... (Zephaniah 3:17)
Here are some great comments from couples who saw God at work in their lives this weekend:
“I feel this conference has given us new hope. We were on the verge of destruction. I think we can now start over and we will make it.”Sales Rep, married 4 years (also prayed to receive Christ)
“Major Impact – Wow! It saved our marriage and will help us help others.”Retired, married 5 years (also prayed to receive Christ)
“…It was a time of blessing for us both after a very, very, VERY rough four years (because of addiction and infidelity). We have been strengthened. Thank You!”Social Worker, married 12 years
“We were headed for a divorce. In fact, a month before this conference that’s exactly what I wanted. This conference has opened our eyes to some of the reasons our marriage was going downhill and gave us the ways to make it work.”Teacher, married 9 years
“…It gave us hope for the first time in a long time. Before this conference I felt we were headed for divorce and now that just isn’t an option. It rekindled feelings I thought had died. Thanks.”
Psychologist, married 4 ½ years
*This last couple made the decision to attend the conference just a few hours before it began…“We’ve been struggling, and our marriage was heading very close to divorce, but my husband wanted to fight for our family and made the call to get us here. I believe this was our saving grace.”
Educator, married 8 years