Tents of Mercy Network Marriage Retreat
by AuthorName, AuthorTitle, AuthorMinistry

Collage of wedding photographs
of participants
The lake was serene. Water slowly lapped against the gently rocking boat. Sun-rays streamed down, warming us in their Mediterranean glow. Only an occasional cool breeze reminded us that it was still winter. Sea gulls lazily flirted with the wind, drawing our eyes to the lovely shoreline. It was hard to imagine that same placid "sea", raging in storm; yet it does. The Sea of Galilee can be calm and benign or wild and occasionally dangerous. Yeshua calmed this same sea with just a word. He also guided Simon Peter to throw his net on the other side of the boat, bringing abundance and provision where there had been nothing.

We were fifty couples on the boat that day, enjoying the afternoon activity as part of the Tents of Mercy Network Marriage Retreat. This event, drawing participants from all five network congregations, was the first of its kind. After a morning of teaching and exhortation about marriage and the roles of men and women from a Biblical perspective, the ride on the boat was a highlight and an apt metaphor for the teaching matter.

Marriage can be calm and comforting. It can also be stormy and dangerous. Yeshua is the one we should look to when the storm rages (and even when it doesn't).

Marriage can also be compared to a fishing net that comes up feeling empty. Sometimes we work hard trying to get what we need, but we are doing it the wrong way - like Simon Peter who fished all night but caught nothing. As we seek God's wisdom and learn from one another - we will be able to gather new abundance and provision in our marriages.

Testimonies from participants:

"Couples were challenged to talk with each other about things that they had been afraid of talking about. We had an opportunity to take a close look at our marriage - to repair things, to see how we could renew and bring variety into our marriage. The initial falling in love phase was really cool, but after passing through some time of marriage relationship it was clear that we needed some new perspective. I guess this is true both for us, who have only been married for a year or two, and also for those who have already "clocked in" many decades." (Newlyweds)

"We learned new things about how to be transformed. It will now take time to apply it all. Even if it is hard, we need to do good to our spouse. Even if it is tough, we need to succeed in overcoming our weaknesses and self-centeredness. One of the "biggies" for me is patience with my wife and children. It was also a great feeling to be together with other believers and know that you can talk about anything together, especially something of such significant and spiritual content." (Married one decade)

"I wish we had been able to be part of an event like this a few decades ago. The conference had a very encouraging atmosphere - both the seminars and the free time which we used to help build and deepen our marriage relationships." (Married over 30 years)

"Particularly for the Russian speaking participants - it seems to be hard to find time in our weekly schedule between work and kids, to devote to building the marriage relationship. Here we all had the opportunity to devote time to this. The teaching was healthy and effective in a variety of different areas - marriage relationship, children and intimate relations. Many couples had questions answered that they had been grappling with in various areas. Things came up that we had forgotten or had become taboo, and suddenly we were able to put them out in plain view in our relationship together as husband and wife." (Married almost 15 years)

"The idea for this marriage retreat had been incubating in our hearts for a long time. We are so blessed that by God's grace we were able to conduct such a meaningful weekend for the couples that came. We are especially appreciative to our guest speakers Larry and Lorrie Russell of Shepherd's Heart Ministry, who brought a fresh and simple, Biblically sound, but practically applicable message. It is our prayer that this will turn into an annual event, bringing change and renewal to strengthen the couples and families of our communities!" (One of the leadership couples)

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