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Making Marriage a Priority

Life is hard on marriages, and strong marriages don’t just happen; they take hard work! This strain is pronounced even more when you’re serving as a missionary. This “calling” means that it is easy to put your own marriage on the back burner when there’s so much ministry happening. “There will always be time later….,” we say, but we never end up finding that time. Josiah Venture (JV) has decided that making space for our couples to be together is a priority! Every three years, JV mobilizes couples to find babysitters, invest their time, travel long distances, and take a break from their ministry to receive teaching, counseling, date nights, and deep conversations with each other.

And wow! We had a great week in Krakow, Poland at the JV Marriage Retreat, February 20-23!

Each retreat requires time and prayer on the part of our Member Care team to decide who will be invited to teach and counsel our couples. 

It was a privilege for our 26 JV first-time marriage retreat couples to be led by Dave and Connie Patty. The teaching and discussions were on the foundation of marriage taken from the Bible. Conversations were centered around being “one flesh,” our call as husbands and wives, passion, and prayer.

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JD and Michele Senkbile were invited to lead 70 JV retreat alumni couples in teaching about Love Styles (attachment theory), telling our stories, and cycles of bonding as couples depending on our Love Styles. They were recommended to JV as a dynamic cross-cultural couple. Michele is from South Africa and JD is a Kansas farm boy from the US. This alone spoke loudly since we are a multicultural team and have many cross-cultural marriages. The couple now lives in California where JD is a Pastor, church-planter, coach and spiritual director. Michele is a marriage and family therapist, and together they led us into many deep places using all of who they each are and as a couple. We also instituted “Dynamic Community Groups” in this year’s alumni track,  enabling couples in small country groups to share about what the Lord was doing for them personally and in their marriages during this teaching. Many said these discussion groups were a highlight of the time!

One couple shared that what happened during the dynamic community group between their couples and the vulnerable sharing could very easily lead to a great change for their team and their entire country. One country has decided that these groups plan to connect in the future to keep the conversations going as they realize that all marriages are not perfect.

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We also had six Counselors (some as couples) and a few JV Marriage Coaches meet with couples for over 92 hours of counseling/coaching! We are SO thankful for their gift to JV in coming and offering their hearts and lives to so many. Each of these counselors were hand-picked through contacts and recommendations, and they were amazing. We even had one couple do counseling in the Czech/Slovak language! 

One counselor shared about a couple who at the beginning of the counseling session were very far from each other, but who left holding hands with smiling faces. This is what we love! We spoke with one JV country leader who said this was the best retreat ever (we’ve had five!) because of the teaching, groups, counselors, and atmosphere.

As we poured prayers over the couples who attended, organized counseling sessions for them, and looked over Prepare and Enrich assessments, our emotions were flooded with love for our team and their marriages. JV is committed to help these marriages thrive amidst all the pressures in serving young people in Central and Eastern Europe.  About a year ago, we (Dan and Laura Hash) were given a new job for Josiah Venture, and that is to see all JV couples be cared for by coordinating marriage coaching (using materials from throughout our 16 JV Countries. JV has been working with Marriage Team for about eight years, training some of our staff to be coaches to those on their teams as well as couples in local churches. Some couples have already been through this coaching and we have seen good fruit. We have more than 50% of JV couples left to go through the coaching. Pray with us that we'll get our trained coaches to connect with those couples and that this year we'll see the number go down to only 30% left. Our coaches within JV are still doing a number of other ministries, so are not able to coach full-time and give their time and skills with other couples. That is dynamic community!

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Pray for our team and their marriages. Pray that what has begun during the retreat will bring much fruit in youth ministries around Central and Eastern Europe and in the churches where they are involved. Pray for more counselors in these countries to be able to help those who need deeper help. And pray for JV coaches to help our staff be equipped with skills and hope for a marriage that gives great glory to God!



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