David Gray of Marriage Works challenged his audience to be involved in supporting strong marriages in the community.
“Marriages and families are in serious trouble,” Gray said.
He said the divorce rate among church members is as high as it is for those who do not attend church.
“This is a sad indictment on the church, in my opinion,” Gray said.
He said this presents a challenge to pastors and churches to help change these statistics by supporting couples in strengthening their marriages.
“Between the year 2009 and 2011, Cleveland/Bradley County had almost 1,500 families break up in divorce,” Gray said.
He said the statistics were the most recent available.
“That’s almost 500 families every single year in our community. That’s not Chattanooga, that’s not Hamilton County, that’s not Athens, that’s right here,” Gray said.
The effects of divorce are long-lasting. Gray said many times at least one person from a divorced couple will still be negatively affected, either mentally or financially, 10 years later.
The adverse effects of divorce also translate into a decrease in productivity at work and lost job time.
“The average employer loses $8,000 every time someone goes through a divorce,” Gray said.
He said the cost to society through taxpayer dollars has been calculated at $30,000.
“It is God’s plan for us to have happy, healthy, strong marriages,” Gray said. We as a community have to do something about that.”
Married couples who stay together have been found to live longer, happier lives, Gray said.
“I believe we as a city need to have a unified, collaborative, concentrated, intentional, effort to change those statistics, to save marriages and save families,” Gray said.
Marriage Works has partnered with First Baptist Cleveland as the church hosts a regional marriage event, the Love and Respect Marriage Conference, next month. Jim Gibson, one of the co-pastors at First Baptist, said the conference could be a measure of prevention to more marriages becoming a part of the negative statistics Gray mentioned.
“A husband’s need is to be respected. He needs to love his wife. A wife’s need is to be loved. She needs to respect her husband,” Gibson said.
Ministry leaders were also challenged to look beyond this community in their work.
Dr. Obadias Marquez challenged those present to be a part of a foreign missions trip.
“I have been so blessed to be in so many different countries in mission work, medical mission work,” Marquez said.
He said there is no age limit for foreign missions and most teams can give volunteers any training needed.
“So don’t give any excuses, just get going and do something before you die,” Marquez said.
A trip around Thanksgiving vacation took him to Nepal.
“We knew before we got there that we were not allowed to mix religion with medicine,” Marquez said.
The doctor went on to say there was a representative of the government with the team much of the time they were in Nepal.
Marquez said he got along well with the officials.
Religions in Nepal were very different than other countries he had ministered in because the Hindu and Buddhist faiths are prominent.
However, two people who came to the clinic asked the doctors to pray for them.
One asked Marquez.
He quietly prayed for the patient.
“That is all that that person needed that day. We gave out medication to everyone that was there. … That person did not take any medication that day, all he wanted was for us to pray for him. And it touched me because I was like, ‘Wow, we don’t even know what is in these people’s hearts,’” Marquez said.
He said he saw a lot of skin diseases while on the trip.
Marquez said his wife and two of their children joined him on the trip.
He said the trip had a profound impact on his family to the point that his children did not ask for anything for Christmas.
Instead, the family purchased animals for needy families overseas through a relief ministry.
“We have been in so many different mission trips with so many different churches,” Marquez said. “It doesn’t matter what denomination you are with, if your heart is in the right spot it is so much fun.”
He said many times he is not sure what the church services of the group he is going with will be like.
“If you are doing something for people, God is going to bless you,” Marquez said.
A trip to Nicaragua had received 20 donated pacemakers.
“During that trip, there was no requirement to be Episcopalian or Baptist or Methodist, you just had to have a cardiac condition and you would get a … pacemaker,” Marquez said.
Marquez said he has been to every continent except Antarctica.
http://loveandrespect.com/ or contact FBC at 709-9100