We began our journey into ministry long before we knew that it was in God’s plan. I (Chris) had a desire to work with Juanita very early in the healing of our marriage, well before Juanita did. I came up with many ideas that she ‘shot down’ because of our divergent personalities and work styles. I, like Moses, attempted to fulfill God’s plan my way! It was not until I stopped attempting to make things happen, that God began to train us in ministry and teamwork.
As the training began to change our ideas about His plan and desire to utilize our differences, we responded to our pastor’s request to work as a team. We began our ministry together leading groups in family ministry to parents and then married couples, mentoring leaders to replace us as we moved to the next step. We continued training and the Lord expanded our influence beyond our local church to minister to couples, train leaders and provide oversight to the couples we trained. This work was very rewarding and we were quite content to remain on our cozy cul-de-sac on Long Island and continue to minister within our comfort zone; however, the Lord had other plans for us.
I (Juanita) was completely unaware of the Lord’s dealing with Chris concerning birthing a marriage ministry through us. God gave Chris the name, Under His Wings Ministries in 2001, but did not release him to share it with me. In August 2002, the Lord spoke to Chris on his way to work at 5:30 am, that we should sell our cozy home on Long Island and build a ministry house in upstate New York to minister to married couples. He immediately released Chris to share this with me, but he was not eager to share it because of the attitude I had displayed in the past toward his ideas for teamwork. He fully expected opposition and questions, but he made the call from his office despite his concerns. When he revealed the Lord’s directive to me, I immediately agreed; though, this was more in amazement than the instruction he received from the Lord. What changed my mind? It was our growth as a couple and ministry team that the Lord used to propel me into this adventure with my husband.
In the time it took to find the property, build the house and establish the ministry, the adventure was and remains a blessing. The Lord directed us to the property, as well as to the Christian builders and donors to help get His work accomplished. The journey grew our relationship as nothing else prior had done. Leaving secure jobs, a local church and friends (what we considered our support system) we certainly felt like the Missionaries to Marriages our local church released us to be. This adventure of full time ministry has afforded many opportunities to grow in faith and dependence on the Lord, grow as a couple and ministry leaders, and minister to many couples nationwide. We have seen the hand of God help couples to prioritize their marriage, forgive, restore and rebuild a marriage after losing hope. We have also seen Him bring estranged couples back together and cancel a divorce. After ten years of full time ministry, we are still amazed at the mighty work He is doing in and through us. We still rely on the His words in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, Is there anything too hard for me?”