For our many friends who sent us love from near and far on the occasion of the renewal of our vows, here is the message capsulizing our story that we placed in the order of service for everyone who has cared for us so deeply over the years:
Silver Bells! Celebrating 25 Years of God’s Goodness!
In July of 1989 as a representative of my seminary, Columbia International University, I set out, to join 5,000 others who were taking part in an historic gathering of Christian Leaders from around the globe to discuss the most urgent issues facing the church at the end of the 20th century. One of these leaders was a vivacious YWAM Missionary named Luz Bautista. The Lausanne II International Mission Congress was the result of the work of Billy Graham and other world Christian leaders to bring together a variety of dynamic Christian Organizations to pray together, plan together and mobilize the whole church to take the whole Gospel around the whole world.
In the midst of performing our duties during that Congress, my path would cross with Luz’s, our curiosity towards each other would be kindled, eventually leading to a full blown courtship that would lead us to the altar of matrimony on a hot December afternoon in 1989 at the Youth With a Mission Balut Base in Manila, Philippines. As we made those vows of life-long commitment to each other, there were a number of challenges to consider.
As we have reminisced about our courtship, we remember wrestling with some fear as we both possessed a clear understanding of the enormity of the step we were about to take. What was it that overcame those instances of timidity? Our fears were overcome by a confidence that was built on what the group Boston referred to as “More than a feeling”. Our relationship began with a common commitment to our faith in Jesus Christ. We both had surrendered all of who we were and all of what we did to His control and authority. We both were also committed to the institution of marriage and possessed an unshakeable conviction that such a commitment is not to be made trivially or on the basis of whims or hyped-up emotions. We both shared an understanding that left to ourselves as human beings, we were vulnerable to wreck our marriage with our baggage and weaknesses. We knew we would need God’s guidance, friends’ support and a commitment to working through our challenges if the marriage was going to work. We also believed we would need to love each other without stopping, understanding that love is ultimately based on action not emotion and a commitment to grow together and to give each other our all as long as we both lived.
The 25 years since we took our vows have been sweet and blessed. Of course, we as a family have experienced the full span of human drama and challenge that life in this world brings. Nevertheless, we have seen God’s faithfulness in every circumstance and trial and count ourselves blessed to have experienced the goodness, grace and mercy of the Lord through the helping hands of our friends. It is with the help of true friends that our marriage has been able to grow, mature and endure. Our friends and loved ones have encouraged us, rallied around us and lifted us up so that we have been able to face life’s challenges with confidence and courage.
It is for that reason that as Luz and I celebrate 25 years of marriage, we want to especially celebrate your friendship us. We thank you for standing with us, standing for us, and cheering us on as our family continues to grow and as we press on in the service of the Lord. We give God the glory and praise our silver anniversary and we salute you for helping to make such a celebration possible through your love! We prayerfully look forward to more years of walking with you and glorifying God together in all of life’s celebrations and challenges! What would we do without you! Thank you for being our friends! Let’s celebrate what God has done!