Making his way through the crowd, Alfred approached me and confided: "I urgently need to speak with you." "Of course," I replied. "See my secretary and make an appointment." The next day Alfred came in with his wife, Lucy, for counseling.
"Our marriage has been destroyed," he lamented. "Lucy has been unfaithful, and I've failed her, too. But I still love her. Besides, we have a 4-year-old daughter, and for her sake I'd like to save our marriage. On the other hand, I feel that there's nothing left for us and we should get a divorce."
Alfred believed Adventist doctrine, but during his six years of marriage he had never come to know Jesus. Lucy, the daughter of an Adventist pastor, had married Alfred against her parents' advice. Both were now alienated from each other and from God.
At the end of the third counseling session, Alfred and Lucy signed their personal "contract," outlining mutual commitments regarding their marriage relationship. They also dedicated their lives to be baptized and bring a new Christ-centered perspective to their home.
A woman's agony
"I want to die," a woman tearfully confided. "I've never felt like I was loved. When I was 4 years old, my mother gave me to an orphanage. When I grew up, I found a man who wanted me to marry me, but now he hates me. Even my children reject me. What can I do? I'm afraid to talk with my pastor--I'd feel embarrassed and could never face him again."
It became apparent in my two-hour session with this woman that her problem involved the entire family. I offered to visit them the next Sunday, only to find that the husband had left the house to avoid me. I waited a couple hours until he returned. Then we had a family session in which they all experienced acceptance and reconciliation. I also had the opportunity to provide emotional therapy to the whole family. By the time I left the home, Jesus was enthroned and the whole family was rejoicing in His forgiveness.
"I've tried twice to commit suicide," young Raymond reported, showing me the scars on his wrists as proof. "I'm totally confused and dis oriented."
Raised in an Adventist family, Raymond had recently moved to the United States. His parents had imposed on him religious perfectionism, because of which he hated the church. I told him I was a mother of four children in his age group and under stood what he was going through. This encouraged him to pour out all of the frustrations of his childhood.
At our second session I presented Christ as the key to solving personal problems. I explained how He loves us and is interested in our happiness. His sacrifice on the cross won our freedom from sin, and the salvation He offers is real.
When Raymond grasped that, a new horizon opened for him. He re quested baptism and has started a new life in Jesus Christ, filled with grateful joy.
God uses women, too
Ellen White wrote, "Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'"1
Family ministry fosters this type of soul-winning. Private counseling and home visitation has been my method of reaching people in need through listening to their problems, winning their trust, and finally leading them to Jesus and His plan for their lives. By God's grace, during the past 12months I've seen 155 souls baptized as a result of six family evangelistic campaigns. In addition, 523 persons have graduated from our Family Life Seminar Bible course, and 238 have enrolled in local church baptismal classes.
Ellen White has well said: "Women can be the instrument of righteousness, rendering holy service. . . . The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth." 2
Helping families make Christ the center of their lives wins souls for heaven while bringing practical benefits to homes on earth.
1 The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View,
Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 143.
2 Evangelism (Washington, D.C.: Review and
Herald Pub. Assn., 1946), pp. 471, 472.