Celebration of Marriage is the first marriage conference we developed. It is loaded with basic biblical principles to practically apply in marriage and is probably to this day the marriage conference that we teach most often. Once we had taught the sessions at a church, often the pastor would contact us within a year or two and request more teaching on marriage or the family. Sometimes, they would request instruction on particular issues or family matters that were needful for what their church body was currently experiencing. We would search God’s word, read other books and prepare sessions for those topics. Regularly couples who attended Celebration of Marriage would contact us requesting personal instruction for situations in their lives.
Through all of these requests, Sam noted a need to train couples in God’s original plan for the distinctly different roles of husband and wife. Jesus and Paul always answered marriage questions by referring to the very first marriage, (Adam and Eve), so we studied the relationship described in the Garden of Eden in depth. The Lord expanded our understanding and passion for His original plan as Partners in Paradise developed into our next marriage conference. The first few times we led this conference, we were purchasing three ring binders, running off the seminar sessions on a copier, then enlisting our boys and some volunteers to walk around the room picking up one sheet at a time to punch and insert into the binders. This was the first conference book that we contracted with a professional artist to design the cover. After we had actually taught the sessions to a few groups and had tweaked the content to remove typos and redundancies, we contracted a printer to print and bind the books for us. This sounds trivial now, but it was a big step forward in improving the presentation of the material.
About the same time, pastors were also making requests for teaching on parenting. What an urgent and vital need to be filled! We felt completely inadequate to approach this and it required much study, prayer, discussion and even at times repenting or a change of mind concerning our own parenting methods. We praise God for His grace and for the instruction in His Word. Leaving a Legacy parenting conference was the result. It covers methods of parenting, building relationships, discipline and instruction as outlined in the Bible. This particular conference has evolved and been adjusted more than all the other conferences, but we have seen dramatic results when parents determine to raise their children God’s way. We encourage single parents and teens to attend Leaving a Legacy. We provide ministers of youth with an option to take time before we arrive to direct teens to write a tribute to their parents. Shortly after the conference was developed, teens were presenting their tributes to their parents in the evening service. When they finished, a grown man who had children of his own, walked up on the stage and proceeded to tell the congregation how much he hated the morning sermon that Sam had preached on honoring our parents. He declared he hated his dad and had actually wanted to kill him at times. (The pastor later confirmed he had personally been called to their home in order to break up a fight before one of them assaulted the other.) The man on stage broke down and sobbed that the tributes had convicted him how rebellious and wrong he had been. His dad slowly rose from his seat and walked toward the stage. The man’s mother wailed so loud, it was frightening. The two men embraced in a scene that is indelibly etched on our minds. This forever convinced us of the importance of training others in parent/child relationships. We praise God for granting His presence when we present His truths. The results are His.