Thousands attend Couples Convention to reaffirm marriage
Approximately 2,000 couples attended and renewed marital vows with their spouses last Saturday during a Couples Convention at the Northern Caribbean University Gymnatorium in Mandeville, Jamaica.
From as early as 8 a.m., couples young and old from across Jamaica were seen in long lines awaiting registration for the convention dubbed 'Journey Toward Intimacy', put on by the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (JAMU).
"What this has signified to us today is that even though the institution of marriage is under attack and challenges exist in marriages, couples want to know what to do to improve relationship with their spouses and reaffirm God's intention for marriage," explained Pastor Astor Bowers, Family Ministries Director of JAMU.
"Couples have been asking when will we have another conference and that we should have one in Kingston and Montego Bay. This is saying that the presentations were excellent and couples want to learn more."
In concurring with Bowers, Pastor Bancroft Barwise, in his vesper message at the end of the day, said, "What was accomplished here today, where nearly 2,000 couples (men and women) participated in this convention, is a statement to our nation that this church still believes that marriage is to be between a man and a woman, as God intended it to be."
The presenters for the day were Dr Willie and Elaine Oliver, family ministries directors of the Seventh-day Adventist world church. The programme included a folder with document of the 'journey', which included practical on-the-spot exercises.
Both presenters believe that for a marriage to be of God and for it to work, couples need to be kind and loving, humble and forgiving.
"Humility is important to all
of this," said Willie Oliver. "When we are humble, we will recognise that we have made a mistake and it's okay to ask for forgiveness and apologise. But persons might be just too proud to say I am sorry, and as the wise man Solomon said, "Pride goes before a fall." So if we want to stay strong in marriage, we have to be humble."
His wife, Elaine, shared: "The most critical ingredient is surrender - surrender to God and self - just being self sacrificing, because without that sense of dying to self, it's difficult to do marriage. Marriage is hard; it's hard work, and if I can focus on
the other person more than I focus on myself - which is totally counter-cultural because we live in an individualistic world - then we can have a happy marriage."
Errol and Valerie Vaz, who are married for 35 years, described the programme as excellent.
"The presenters were good. I think this programme had some real meat in it, which I believe will sweeten our marriage. There are some areas that were discussed today that we need to 'brush up' on, and we have made our list as to how we are going to address them."
Portlanders Ricardo and Nuvia McCalla, who are married for seven years, said the day was a great one, but enjoyed most the presentation on 'Nurturing Fun, Friendship, Sensuality and Sexuality'.
"I think we did have a journey toward intimacy today," quipped Novia.
"It's my excited point (sensuality and sexuality)," interjected Ricardo. "I learned today that it is something we can't take for granted, we have to be sensible about it."
Five couples - one from each of the five Adventist conferences - were randomly selected and given a prize of a weekend for two at a hotel in their respective region.