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God's gifts in a bag - Couple says Heaven - not Cupid's arrow - brought them together 50 years ago

Published:Sunday | February 15, 2015 | 2:00 AM

Nadine Wilson-Harris, Staff Reporter

To the onlooker, Ronald and Evon Blair's relationship seemed unlikely to last. It was not the head-over-heels whirlwind romance, and her family was so much against them getting married that their wedding was postponed three times.

But despite the odds, the two were divinely assured that their destinies were connected and they took the plunge 50 years ago.

Today, the Blairs' relationship is an inspiration to scores of persons, and many friends, family members and well-wishers joined them last week to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

The couple marked the occasion by renewing their vows during last Sunday morning's worship service at the Bayside New Testament Church in Portmore, where Ronald is the pastor.

They were not alone, as 40 other couples joined them at the altar and professed their undying love to each other before the congregation, which comprised an estimated 2,000 members. The celebration was a welcomed event for the church.

MARRIAGES CAN LAST

For Evon, the public declaration of commitment by the couples signals the fact that marriages can still last despite the forces that seem to be tearing so many unions apart.

"My thing is that marriages can work, so seeing them (couples) there and hearing the whole thing made me feel so good," she told The Sunday Gleaner.

"With what's happening with marriages today - from the point of divorce and conflict and such - I think periodical practices such as this will help marriages," declared Ronald.

Evon was just 21 years old when she got married and admits that it was definitely not a case of love at first sight for her or Ronald.

"There was nothing, nothing at all," she said, describing how she felt the first day she met him.

As it happened, Ronald was preparing to graduate from the Bethel Bible College in Manchester the same day Evon turned up to register as a student. For years, he had been praying to God to "put up" his wife until the timing was right, but during that first meeting, neither had any inclination that they would one day marry each other.

This revelation was not made to Blair until more than a year after that initial meeting, when "God distinctly told me I was going to marry a lady named Evon Foster". Not wanting to lose any time in securing his future wife, Blair put pen to paper and started writing letters to his intended bride.

"There was no hesitation once I heard from the Lord," he said.

But Evon turned down all of his attempts to woo her, forcing Ronald to seek reinforcement.

INTERVIEWED

"He wrote the principal of the college, he wrote the national overseer of the entire church, and he wrote to an outstanding minister and told him his intention, so I was interviewed by these three people," Evon recounted.

Evon would not budge, as she was just in the second year of her three-year programme and wanted to complete school before she would entertain any thought of marriage. She clung to this stance until the last day of her second year when "I had a vision of myself in a wedding dress and was divinely assured that Blair was the man I was going to marry". Not wanting to be disobedient to God, she accepted Ronald's proposal.

"In those days, we didn't have any long courtship or date," recounted Evon.

"I never knew the man. I just knew that he wanted to marry me," she admitted.

Five decades and four children later, the couple is more in love than they thought they would ever be, and maintains that God is the best matchmaker for anyone wanting to find lasting love.

"I married puss inna bag and him married me as puss inna bag and it worked," said Evon.

"I love the man, I really do love him. Ronald is such a genuine person. He is not as talkative as me, but he has been very good for me," she said.

Evon, who believes that too many women today are entering relationships for the wrong reasons, pointed out that she and her husband were poor when they first started out together, but they gradually gained physical wealth over the years.

"We never had a lot when we started, but 50 years after, I have a beautiful house and I am just giving away furniture," she said.

Meanwhile, her husband is continuously assured that his wife is a godsend.

"I have served at the highest level in our church denomination with various church bodies and she has been right there, giving full support," said Ronald.

"I would say we have had a beautiful relationship for the 50 years. We have had challenging times, yes, but we were able to face them together and overcome," he assured.