Thursday, August 26, 2010

September Letter

When was the last time you changed the oil in your car?

When was the last time you did something to maintain your marriage?

How long would your car last without any maintenance?

Why do we expect our marriages to last without maintenance?

Great marriages don’t just happen! Great marriages are developed by couples who are proactive at the beginning of their marriages and every year throughout their marriage.

When a couple in a crisis comes to us, we ask them what kind of premarital preparation they had and what they have done since the wedding to strengthen their marriage. Our hearts break when couples who have only been married two or three years are already considering divorce.

Rarely, has a couple in crisis done anything to prepare for marriage or anything to ensure the longevity of their marriage after the wedding. Don’t wait for a crisis, do something now to assure an increasing joy in your marriage - we have a class starting September 21st !

In Oklahoma, 75% of couples get married in a church, but only 25% take advantage of the $45 discount for having premarital preparation. What a great opportunity we have to get a couple started in the right direction! One out of five of these couples will divorce in the first five years of marriage. Wow! In five years, we have barely started learning about the weaving together of our two lives. We begin a Preparing for Marriage class on September 13th to help couples get a strong, healthy start to their marriages.

If you could go back and change one thing in the past about your marriage, what would it be? We have testified many times that we would have started using a spending plan (budget) much earlier in our marriage. Living according to a spending plan is the one choice that would have made a world of difference in our marriage at a much earlier age. The spending plan brought about a contentment in knowing where we were financially, a security in knowing how to plan for the future, a peace in agreeing on how to spend our income, and a freedom in knowing how to get out of debt and stay out.

The issue is not how much money I have, but what am I doing with it? And where is God in my spending and planning? Change your sense of contentment and peace, whether you are single or married! God gives an abundance of direction on the subject. Take our class on Managing Money, beginning September 15th, and find out how to live in that peace and contentment. Also, read our enclosed teaching on the benefits of a budget.

You are our strongest supporters and best advertising media! If you have never taken one of our marriage or money classes, we invite you to participate. Please pass the enclosed card along to someone who may benefit if you are unable to attend.

Thank you for your prayer support. We have received enough designated donations to cover the costs of the chairs for our classroom. We are so thankful for a nice, fully-furnished room for our classes. And God also supplied our need for a new computer - it is on the way to us!

We encourage to look at the archives in our blog to see a myriad of pictures and details about our mission trip. If you type Morogoro into the search box on this page, a list of all the entries will come up.

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. Our love in Christ.

Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please pray that the people who would benefit from our classes will find out about them and attend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Benefits of Budgeting

We believe a budget is the single most powerful tool for successful money management.

Most of us have no problem with budgets when it comes to the government, business, church, or our employer; we find ourselves skeptical of any entity that is not accountable to a financial budget. However, our thinking often changes when it comes to our personal finances.

What are the benefits to having a written spending plan, a budget?

A budget:
1. Gives us more knowledge of where are money is going, so we can spend more effectively. Properly prepared, with a steward’s attitude, a budget is designed to help us maintain “self-imposed” boundaries. A budget is a simple device to keep us from stumbling over the boundaries that guard us from financial dangers, which can threaten our families - a tool that allows us to spend with wisdom.

2. Gives us peace. Not knowing where your money goes each month can create great fear and anxiety. The budgeting process is really quite simple and takes very little time to maintain. The goal is this: to establish a level of spending for each expense category you have, allocating spendable income to those categories, and knowing where you stand at all times.

3. Reduces marital strife. Creating and utilizing a spending plan provides confidence that funds are available to pay bills on time, that funds are available for those inevitable emergencies, and that you will know how much you can spend for the things you need and want. Agreeing on and spending according to a predetermined plan eliminates much of the emotion associated with finances in marriages.

4. Brings a sense of security. Contingency funds built into your budget gives you the security of knowing you can meet your financial obligations without going into debt.

5. Gives us freedom. Financial bondage can result from a lack of money and overspending, but it can also be caused by the misuse of an abundance of money. True financial freedom requires that we all, regardless of income level, be good managers. Budgeting brings our finances under God’s control and avoids debt that result from uncontrolled spending.

Our Managing Money class will prepare you to navigate the financial roadway – finding God’s plan for Living Well. (Info on the class)

More articles on Money and forms for creating a budget.

What God says .....

God owns all that we have and wants us to be good managers of His possessions. He wants us to seek Him about how to spend all that He has given us, then to follow His plan. He wants us to see Him in every area of our life, even the way we use money.

The Bible contains lots of examples of the importance of good planning. Here are two:

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pastor Fabian, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The best part of our trips to Africa are the relationships we build. Last year, Pastor Fabian and his wife attended our conference in Bagamoyo and then our workshop in Dar es Salaam. Then, we were fortunate enough to meet at their church with them and some of their church members.

At that time, Pastor Fabian was already planning a marriage conference after receiving our training. He is a very sharp guy and very creative.

After his conference, he was asked by other churches to teach there. A bishop asked him to meet with his son and his fiance to counsel them before marriage. The bishop expressed that he wish he could have the same teaching, even after years of marriage.

Pastor Fabian's wife testified, “I thank God so much for the last seminar in Bagamoyo. I thought that these teachings have come specifically for me and my husband, to fulfill our passion and desire for marriage ministry!

Traditionally pastors and their wives do not teach or minister together, but separately. But now we have crossed that barrier very freely. We are ministering together and are getting good feedback from people saying that we are ministering together well.”
At our follow-up session this year, Pastor Fabian came with his wife and brought a special gift which he made for us.

He made this himself, a man who doesn't even have electricity. He cut the letters from leaves and varnished them to the wood.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Obstacles in Marriage, Tanzania

During each of our Pastoral Family Enrichment Conferences in east Africa, we give them a chance to discuss the challenges in having a successful marriage. Most countries express the same obstacles which the pastors in Morogoro shared this year.

When asked to detail the obstacles in marriage in Tanzania, they said:
  1. Male dominance (this issue rose to the top time after time)
  2. Customs, culture, and traditions: the people don’t know biblical principles, leaders have marital problems and don’t model godly marriage
  3. Traditions don’t encourage closeness with wife, don’t eat together, etc.
  4. Lack of biblical teaching about marriage in churches, not enough emphasis on marriage, more focused on evangelism.
  5. Poverty, Unemployment: husbands and wives transfer from region to region to find work and they are divided by their jobs.
Donna Edwards, Nickson Kalinga, and Ed Edwards teaching at Pastoral Enrichment Conference
Morogoro, Tanzania