In March Doug/Rebecca and Phil/Nancy trained several leaders in DR so that they can train others using our marriage materials, The First Team. Together with the local MCNet coaches (Carlos and Raydel/Madelines) they discussed topics such as God’s design for male/female relationships, Personality, Communications, Boundaries, Intimacy, Finances, and Ministry Roles and Marriage.
As important as the training was, for many of these couples having the opportunity to get away for a few days was just as beneficial. Though they live in proximity to hotels, it is financially beyond the reach of most of them. One couple that has a ministry to the difficult country of Haiti have given their lives to ministry and this was one of the few times they were able to get away. All of the other ministry couples are in similar situations.
Each of these couples was equipped to use our materials to help marriages within their ministries over the next year. While from the vantage of a colder climate the warm sunshine and beaches seen idyllic, many marriages within the country are far from idyllic. Regardless of the sunshine, they have the same problems as the rest of us! Our main target group, church leadership, face additional stresses on their marriage as their lives are an open book, often 24/7. In every country we work marriages seem to be under stress and require positive input in order to, not just survive, but to be a beacon of hope and help for others.
One of our main emphasis is to teach leaders Jesus’ model of leadership which was that leaders are not “the boss” or “chief” but are called to be servants (Matt. 18, 20; Phil. 2); using their gifts to equip others to be the best that they can be. It is our understanding that to be consistent to the biblical text, this same principle of mutual submission applies in the marriage relationship. This is in sharp contrast to both patriarchal and feminist societies alike. The relationships in the Body and Christ, and by extension in the home, are usually quite different than the fallen cultures in which they exist. As we read in Galatians (3:26-29), we are all children of God, there are not to be differences according to ethnicity (Jew or Gentile), social status (slave or free), or gender (male or female). We are all one in Christ.
Several years ago, Phil and Nancy were able to teach these materials to married couples in Russia and this work continues there through the efforts of Alexei/Tatiana and Valera/Narina. Recently, Tatiana sent the following note:
Dear Phil and team,
Thank you very much for sending the newest marriage materials to us. Since I teach in the Marriage and Family department of the seminary in Moscow, your material is a blessing for me, especially in Russian.
Just two weeks ago I taught some of these principles at a church in our denomination. The approach that the material takes of beginning with God’s original plan in the Creation model of Genesis is rather new in our cultural context. In many societies, including our own, men are used to think that they have higher position in the sight of God, and unfortunately this is appealing even in the church culture.
While equality in the Soviet Union was a common view, it was considered as part of Soviet ideology and thus wrong. This has created a situation in many churches where now dominance over women is a normal idea. Your approach of mutual submission and the idea that God created man and woman as a team in order to fulfill his purposes on earth is challenging in most cultures, including our own. As you mention when you teach on servant leadership and mentoring, all of our cultures are fallen because of sin and so this has also negatively affected male/female relationship.
The concept that patriarchal societies were not God’s original plan and that the husband is to leave his parents and join the women and they are to become one is so different from what our students see around them that they are very surprised. So thank you again for this material and thank you for you and your team being dedicated to the biblical view.
Thank you for your prayers for the marriages of those we work with and particularly the ongoing ministry of these couples in Russia. Your support enables us to provide these materials into the languages of the various countries we serve. If you would like to view a PDF of this marriage material, let us know and we can make it available to you (firstname.lastname@example.org).