When Dewey and Lynne Wilson agreed to help a couple who had separated and were struggling with their marriage several years ago, they had no idea at first that it was an answer to prayer.
“Lynne had been praying for years that we would go to counseling,” Dewey recalled. However, for a variety of reasons, they hadn’t followed through. “God knew that mentoring was what it was going to take for us to work on our marriage.”
“We would sit with them at our kitchen table, teaching them the next step,” said Lynne. “So, when we had a difficulty in our marriage, we found ourselves going right back to our kitchen table using the same tools that we were teaching, but just the two of us, resolving conflicts. Not only did God birth the ministry [of Strong Marriages], He drastically improved our marriage.”
After four months of mentoring using principles outlined in God’s Word, their mentee couple reconciled, eventually celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary and a second honeymoon.
Word got out. “Before you knew it, Lynne and I were mentoring 11 couples at one time,” said Dewey. “We saw nine out of those 11 couples restore their relationship. So we knew if God could use us to do this, surely there were other couples that He could use, as well.”
In April 2003, Marriage Mentors was born, defined as couple with couple discipleship. Since then, nearly 5,000 mentors have been trained, and about 80% of the couples who were struggling have either witnessed their relationship greatly enriched or totally restored.
One couple who became part of the mentoring program, Ron and Toni Montgomery, learned about the opportunity through their church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. They were part of the church’s couples ministry.
“We saw marriages falling apart,” said Ron. After one particularly painful attempt to assist a struggling couple, they felt like they were at the end of their rope.
“We used the scripture, we walked with them,” said Toni. “We tried everything that we knew. But in the end, we saw the husband walk away. It was heartbreaking.”
It was then that the head of OCBF’s couples ministry met Dewey and Lynne. “We could really see that there was a need and that this could help heal the Body of Christ,” said Toni.
OCBF now has a thriving Marriage Mentors ministry, headed by Ron and Toni. “All of the couples that have gone through and have at least stayed with the curriculum six months or more are still together,” said Toni.
Strong Marriages works through local churches like OCBF to administer Marriage Mentors. “If anyone wants to become a mentor couple in their church, they should go to the church leadership and let them know,” said Dewey. “Then we’ll give them information about how to bring it to their church.”
Marriage Mentors has expanded to the point where it needed to be renamed. It is now known as Strong Marriages. It includes a premarital book, “I Promise,” a seven-week premarital course. It also offers a personality assessment called “Connect Assessment.” And Strong Marriages is producing small group studies, which are scheduled for release later this year.
February is the month to think about your Valentine. What is the best gift you could give him/her?
“Become a student of your spouse,” Dewey recommended. “Learn each other’s love language and learn what those needs are. Then be willing to meet those needs with no expectations.”
Toni remembered a husband who learned this concept when he was being mentored. His assignment was to go to Subway and buy his wife a sandwich. It took him a month to get it right.
“He would go and buy the sandwich that he wanted, but he never listened to what his wife wanted!” Toni recalled. “When he finally did – they came into that session and you would have thought that he had bought her a diamond ring! It was the communication, the listening and appreciation that allowed him to understand what she wanted. That opened up a world to them – a sandwich!”
If you’re anticipating marriage, struggling in marriage or if you and your spouse just need a checkup, Strong Marriages is a good place to start. Learn more at http://www.strongmarriages.com/. And tune into 90.9 KCBI for the daily Marriage Minute feature, hosted by Dewey.
“It’s simple,” said Dewey. “We help couples learn how to live according to what Scripture says, and to apply the principles and the skills of how to communicate and resolve conflict to their marriage. It makes all the difference.”