Dr. Joseph C. Aldrich is quoted as saying something some might find surprising.
Dr. Aldrich authored over a dozen books, including Lifestyle Evangelism: Learning to Open Your Life to Those Around You. He was also a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and the Chairman for the Pacific Northwest Billy Graham Crusade. Aldrich served as the President of Multnomah Bible College and Seminary for 18 years. (1978- 1996)
Aldrich highlights one of the "weapons" at the church's disposal for evangelism in Lifestyle Evangelism.
Is it training? It is it a certain tract or method? Is it passion? Is it an effusive and charasmatic personality? Caring for orphans and widows?
Those might be the first things we'd think of as being "on the front lines" of sharing the Good News. To be sure, these have great value, and are important parts of sharing the Good News.
Here is what Aldrich says,
"The two greatest forces in evangelism are a healthy church and a healthy marriage. The two are interdependent.
It is the healthy marriage, however, which is the ‘front lines weapon’.” (Lifestyle Evangelism)
The Ban Family, Romania.
ITMI's Adi and Ema Ban have recognized the power wielded by a healthy marriage. They also understand the cumulative effects of healthy marriages on a church and on its ability to share the Good News with the world.
Adi and Ema disciple two groups of young couples - many of them now young and even maturing families. The Bans invest in these couples, disciple them and help them build strong marriages through study of the Word and community. They call these groups "Young Couples' Fellowships."
They also offer pre-marital counseling and various events throughout the year for couples in their city, Oradea, Romania.
Adi and Ema with one of their Young Couples' Fellowship groups.
What Have Adi and Ema Been Up to Lately?
1. Parenting Conference
During the early fall of 2017, Adi and Ema helped coordinate and speak at a parenting conference, highlighting as keynote speakers their own mentors, Dave and Claudia Arp. The conference was attended by over 150 parents and teachers.
Here's what some of them had to say about their experience:
2. Building Up Families by Sharing in Another City
During the school year, Adi coordinated the activity of the Sunday school classes (8 – 14 years old) at the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Oradea.
In June, they led a group made up of children and their parents from several Sunday school classes (8 – 14 years old), including some couples from their Young Couples' Fellowship on a day trip to Zalau, a city two hours Northeast of Oradea.
The purpose of the trip was to encourage the church in that city. Adi shared in the church's Sunday service and encouraged parents to understand the importance of a role model in their children’s lives, to spend time in the Word as a family and to be light and salt in their community.
Children from the Sunday School classes shared songs, memorized verses with those in the service.
At the end of the day, parents from the group expressed how much they appreciated this opportunity. It meant a lot for them to share and sing, and listen to their children do the same.
They shared that it was an activity which encouraged their walk with the Lord as a family. They were really grateful!
3. Young Couples' Fellowship Retreat
Last Spring, Adi and Ema led a retreat for their Young Couples' Fellowship groups.
Adi and Ema shared,
"Researchers at the University of Chicago found that couples who stayed together through adversity had friends who wanted them to stay together and had a low opinion of divorce. Therefore, one’s close friends are some of the most important predictors of how successful you will be in life and in marriage. To succeed in marriage, you need friends who share your values and are committed to their own marriages. In this context, it is very important to have a support group, encouraging you to do the right thing as you also encourage them." (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2014)
The goal of this retreat was to build those relationships, pull away from busy schedules, distractions and work to reflect on what God intends for their marriages.
Adi and Ema are working hard to protect the front lines of the church's ability to share the Good News in Romania through building strong marriages.
As Aldrich says, a healthy church and healthy marriages are interdependent.
As they've built healthy marriages, Adi and Ema have equipped Romanian families to reach out and share the Good News through outreaches to other cities in Romania as well as the needy in nearby Ukraine.
Adi and Ema are in need of a few additional monthly supporters, due to several factors beyond their control.
If you would like to partner with Adi and Ema in reaching and discipling families in Romania, your contribution would be most appreciated.