On the Way Together
We live in a beautiful city in China – where every season seems like spring, where even the summer is filled with cool breezes, and a jacket is warm enough for winter. This is where our story started…
We fell in love in 1994, when Caleb was 22 and I was 23. But due to a variety of reasons, including the fact that our family did not support the relationship and we had very different personalities, we had many problems during our first four years together. It was an “on again, off again” relationship and we thought it might be better to just get married. So, in 1998, we took the leap and got married. I became pregnant eight months later – everything went well during the pregnancy and our daughter, Esther, was born the next year.
From the start, it was very hard for the two of us to take care of our daughter because we had no experience and we were both working – so we ended up asking our parents to help us. This was our life: work, kid, maintaining our relationship with our parents… Busy! We had no time to give to our marriage and we struggled because of this. After seven years, both of us were tired and heart-broken and we decided to divorce, choosing to escape from the nightmare of our marriage which only we, ourselves, had created. We both loved Esther but, in the end, I ended up with custody of our daughter.
Resolving issues and picking up the pieces after we divorced wasn’t easy and our lives didn’t improve. We both experienced tremendous pain from the failed marriage and deep regret that our daughter had to grow up in an incomplete and broken family – and the pain and regret in our hearts did not go away as time passed…
During this difficult time, Caleb came across a book called, “Healing”. While reading the book, these words touched his heart, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:6) Caleb didn’t understand the meaning of this sentence – what did “comes to the Father” mean? And the words, “I am the way”, struck him deep in his heart, like a man who is adrift in the ocean and sees a lighthouse in the distance. He began to ask himself, “What is the way for me? Can Jesus show me a way to escape from the confusion of my soul – a way to be free from the prison of a broken marriage? Who is Jesus?” Through his searching, Caleb found Jesus and started on the way God had provided for him.
Around the same time, I had dinner with a group of pastors and shared with them about a time when, as a young girl, my grandmother had led me to receive Jesus. One of the pastors encouraged me by saying, “If the mother has faith in Jesus, the daughter will be blessed.” So, for the sake of my daughter, I started to seek Jesus. Both my husband and I were on the way…
Shortly after that, some friends introduced us to a missionary family from Korea. This couple truly loved each other and their three children were well–behaved and obedient. When they heard about our marriage, they began to help us – speaking the truth to us and helping us grow in Jesus. Praise God! Caleb, Esther, and I were baptized into Christ on December 25, 2008!
This missionary couple and their children were such a good testimony and example of a loving Christian family for us – it was our first experience with such a family. They encouraged us to prepare to remarry. It took two years to change our bad habits – mis- understanding, lack of communication, distrust… The pain of our previous marriage and the years of estrangement between us and our families of origin were like a high mountain we couldn’t cross over. During that time, another missionary couple came into our lives – they prayed for us, encouraged us, and led us into experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus revealed our sins to us through God’s Word: “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.” (Malachi 2:16)
Caleb wanted to find a solution to the problems in our marriage and, in God’s light, he discovered he was a sinner who did things that God hated – divorce, speaking violent words to his wife, self-indulgence, being sly and devious in relation to me, etc. He had sinned against God and that was why he felt so barren and desolate. As a husband, it was his duty to build a warm home for all the members of family, but he had not done that – instead, he had expected me to take responsibility for all the things he should have been doing. He realized that he was a sinner and the Bible provided the answer to his questions. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Ephesians 5:22–23).
The Holy Spirit also led me to see my own problems in the marriage. I had dishonored my husband by doing everything according to my own wishes. I wasn’t receiving the acceptance from Caleb which I so desperately wanted, so I became bitter and complaining in my heart, which led to even more bitterness and complaining. As a result, my heart drew far away from Caleb and I started seeking acceptance at work and through other people, instead of my husband.
When we confessed our sins to each other and asked each other’s forgiveness, Jesus destroyed the wall between us which we had been building for almost 10 years. The couples who had helped us loved and respected each other and served together, and we wanted to be like them and follow their good example.
On December 25, 2009, exactly one year after we were baptized into Christ, we remarried. We still had some unresolved issues and needed time to continue rebuilding the trust between us but we were able to take this step because of Jesus’ love, our sense of responsibility for our daughter, and the encouragement and blessing from a spiritual elder. We knew that this wedding was just a beginning for our new marriage – only growing in Jesus and denying ourselves – taking up His cross and following Him would cause our marriage to continue to improve.
In 2011, we went through a YWAM Family Ministry School (FMS), which included a 3-day REAPP Marriage Enrichment Workshop. This was an excellent experience for us – we were able to use the tools we learned to help heal the “disease” in our marriage (i.e. poor communication, anger, disunity, lack of intimacy, etc.). We learned how a family can serve as a team, how to cooperate and help each other accomplish his or her goals, and how to build a solid marriage relationship. As Jesus began rebuilding our marriage and as we grew in Him and got to know Him better, we were increasingly filled with His love and power. Caleb and I discovered what husbands and wives were truly meant to be.
As our marriage improved, we were touched when we saw other couples in various stages of broken marriages. God put “family” on our hearts and we desired to share our testimony of how Jesus changed our marriage. We wanted to tell others the good news and teach them the principles of marriage we had learned through REAPP. In the process, we also discovered that when we serve together, our relationship deepens and becomes more intimate.
God is truly faithful – we have experienced this in the seven years following our decision to remarry. Our pastor once read the following Bible verse to us: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) This has truly happened in our lives!
We know our family and marriage are in God’s hands and we understand very clearly that we are called to help others build better relationships in their marriage. At the same time, we realize that this starts with the relationships in our own family. The way of marriage is a way of growth. We are on the way together and we believe and proclaim: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
We give thanks to each person who has accompanied us, encouraged us, and prayed for us (and to those who do so today). May all the honor and praise be given to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Caleb & Lishu live in China with their daughter, Esther. They are currently serving as leaders in their local church and leading REAPP Marriage Enrichment Workshops.
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