My wife and I just wrapped up another session of pre-marital counseling with a couple from our seminary, who will be married in a few. As an advisor and teacher there are plenty of opportunities to mentor and enter into the lives of those who we teach. Our students expect and anticipate the kind of pastoral input that my wife and I are able to share with them.
In the case of the couple who we just finished counseling (we’ll call them Fu and Hui), they have been somewhat troubled. Fu is a wonderful brother in Christ but he has been a bit indecisive and weak in certain areas. They will be married in a few weeks but Hui, his fiancée, has complained to us about Fu. “He doesn’t stick up for me when my family opposes our Christian faith.” Fu and Hui come from non-Christian families. As only children in a generation of only children, they are expected to take care of their parents in their old age without the help of any siblings. When their non-Christian parents look at the paltry salary of a pastor, which is what Fu is training to be, they naturally come to the conclusion that Fu and Hui won’t have enough money to support them.
This has led to much strife between Fu and Hui. At one point Hui said to her fiancé, “Maybe I made a mistake in agreeing to marry you.” These words were uttered because she felt Fu was unwilling to stick up for her when her family attacked her about her faith.
While her anxiety was understandable Hui’s words hurt Fu very deeply. During our second counseling session we were able to uncover this hurt and with tears they reconciled. Afterward, when we met for our final session with them I asked about the family situation. Hui gave a big smile and said “ask him”. Fu explained how Hui’s relatives asked him to give up his plans of full ministry and find a “normal” job. Fu refused. Hui’s uncle threatened to beat Fu if he didn’t concede and give up his ministry plans. They met again a few days later and asked Fu once again to give up his plans. Again he refused. Hui’s uncle and cousin then proceeded to beat up Fu. With tears Hui begged them to stop. After they were finished Fu stood firm and didn’t back down.
As they sat on our couch retelling the story there was joy in their eyes. “You suffered for Jesus,” I said. “Yes, and God gave me the strength,” Fu said. Hui not only saw Fu stand up to her relatives for her, she saw him stand up for Jesus.