Making unions last through ministry

With the U.S. divorce rate as high as 38%, it is no wonder that couples are seeking counseling or participating in marriage ministries in an effort to make their unions last.

At New Living Word Ministry, couples are afforded the opportunity to participate in a marriage ministry that is Word-based and fun. Jerry Baldwin, the pastor of New Living Word, says that his ministry has had a marriage ministry for a while; however, since 2002, it has grown.

Baldwin says that the purpose of the marriage ministry is to increase fellowship among married couples. "We give couples the opportunity to share the word of God and deal with issues as they relate to marriage," says Baldwin, who has been the pastor at New Living Word for 13 years.

Baldwin says that Rixie and Dwight Thompson are leading the marriage ministry and have been doing very creative things.

One program was entitled “The Obstacle Course.” It began with a topic addressed by Baldwin entitled How to Handle the Obstacles in Your Marriage – Can You Pass the Test?

Then the couples were given a pop quiz, followed by “Ask the Pastor” and an open book test.

The couple went through a symbolic obstacle challenge session that began with horse shoe throwing, which meant that marriages do not last by luck. Then they went through a tunnel, smbolic of dark situations and ended with I’m still married; through it all, the couples made it.

Gregory and Eva Williams, married for almost 27 years say that they enjoy the marriage ministry and have learned from it.

"Being around other couples with good marriages helps our marriage. Iron sharpens iron. Their marriages bless our marriage, ours bless theirs," said Gregory.

He said, "Being a part of the ministry is another part of the church that we are trying to support. We like this marriage ministry because it emphasizes what the scripture says about marriage."

Eva said that she likes the togetherness of the ministry. "I learned that some of the same things that happen with other married couples happen with us."

What are the secrets to making a marriage work? Gregory and Eva said that talking to each other, building a relationship, working together, and spending time with each other are key to making a union last.

He said, "Get into a good bible-teaching church. Be around other seasoned married people. They can tell you about the pitfalls you’ll go through and other marital problems."

The couple are the parents of Danielle, 24 and Dionne, 21.

Another couple who participates in the ministry are high school sweethearts Larry and Kimberly Proctor, who have been married for 13 years.

Kimberly said that the marriage ministry has helped her tremendously. "It’s Word-based. Couples get to interact with each other and have fun. It has helped me to get to know my spouse more," she said.

She said that this is the first time that she has ever been part of a marriage ministry. "I got involved in this ministry because it was offered and I thought it was a great way to enhance my marriage," said Kimberly, coordinator of User Services at Grambling State University.

For instance, she learned that her husband does not like to cook. "All of this time I thought that he liked to cook. He was doing it because it needed to be done and to help out. It made me appreciate him more when I learned that he was doing it to help me out," said kimberly.

Being in the midst of other married couples and seeing them grow is what Kimberly said that she likes most about the ministry. "I would highly recommend the marriage ministry because it can help strengthen a marriage, and younger couples can learn from seasoned marriages," said Kimberly.

Larry, an assistant professor at Louisiana Tech, said that the marriage ministry helps him in many ways. "It helps to enhance my foundational knowledge as I learn about the fundamentals. Different themes are tackled, such as finances, being loyal to a relationship, and being trustworthy," he said.

Both Proctors agree that having God as head of the household, love, communication and sacrifice make a marriage work.

The Proctors have three children: Rasheed, 12; Rashaan, 8; and Khalid, 6.