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A Terrible Challenge & a Powerful Opportunity to Teach

Written by Graham “Grah-hahm” Robbins, Men’s Team

It’s not unusual to hear from women and men that marriage is hard and is not what they expected it to be. However, on our day one debrief, the ladies on our team shared the difficult news from their participants about the overall mistreatment of women by their husbands.

We know that this does not represent 100% of marriages here. However, the ALARM staff confirmed that this is a real challenge they face. As our team dinner progressed the other night, it was clear that the Lord has prepared the men on our team to double down on training these men for God’s design for marriage. We prayed for the Lord to guide our steps, reached out to faithful friends back home, and established a clear teaching outline on God’s role for marriage. Matt Dobbertien also offered to share his testimony and experience with abuse and loss.

It’s hard to put into words what we experienced the next morning, as the plan to teach and admonish the men in our conference unfolded. Steve Abney opened the morning by¬†allowing the participants to come up with words describing Christ’s love for the Church, followed by words that describe the Church’s love for Christ. The attendees passed this quiz with flying colors, pulling truth straight from Scripture.

Matt followed this exercise with his powerful testimony of trauma, a deeply wounded heart and the hard work of trusting God for healing and restoration. This spoke to the pastors, and when asked to pray for Matt, ten men came up to bathe him in an extended session of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving to God. I couldn’t decipher a single word; it didn’t matter. We were completely surrendered in awe of the power of our mighty King and Savior. It stirred my affection and love for God deeply, and it was a worship experience I will never forget.

Steve followed up by taking the list of words describing the love of Christ and the Church, using it to complete the comparison for biblical marriage. God says (in Ephesians 5:22-33) that a man is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, and a wife is to love her husband as the Church loves Christ. It was powerful and called the men to understand and be obedient to the high calling of marriage and how they are to protect, cherish, and serve their wives – and be willing to lay down their lives for their brides, in obedience to God.

Barrett then taught on how God could allow evil and suffering in the world, Matt on healing the wounds of trauma, and Graham on seeking and understanding forgiveness – a topic he has much experience with. We were able to also draw from the testimony of Bishop Deo, as he clearly presented the gospel and the power of Christ to remove the burden of unforgiveness and provide healing and reconciliation. God rescued Bishop Deo as a young teenager from a six-year saga and plot to avenge the murders of his father and uncles and eventually led him to seek forgiveness from the man who committed the crimes. He was 18 at the time he reconciled with this man.

We get to have dinner every night on a balcony overlooking an unsuspecting city, with the chants from a Muslim mosque in the distance. We get to praise God for the opportunity to participate in His work here in Burundi. I am truly in awe of our God.

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