The two shall become one. This is a fascinating truth of the marriage bond. The first man and woman, created and bonded together by God in the garden, were of one flesh—literally. The woman was created from a rib taken out of the man (Gen 2:21-24). Nowadays, thousands of generations later, we see this as figurative rather than literal. Yet, it is still true, and for me, a fascinating truth.
A little over a week ago, after months of planning and a week or so of intense preparation, we had a double wedding at Rainbow Village. It's a wedding that began with a restoration of hope in the lives of two young women in their young teens. They were the victims of sexual abuse and brought to Rainbow in need of safety and hope for a future. Their life situation was dire and hopeless in their eyes.
The oft quoted verse from the prophet Jeremiah to God's people, in Jeremiah 29:11, is taken as a personal promise by many people today. It was given at a major low point in Israel's history, when they were exiled from their homeland and in bondage. The idea of having hope and a future seemed beyond their present reality, but God gave them this promise of restoration.
And so, this promise of future restoration, of having hope, became relevant for the young girls and women brought to Rainbow under our care. They had no hope of breaking the cycle of abuse and poverty they had known. They also had no hope in God. Many came with little to no education, nor a sense of anything good to come in the future.
A major element of our program for abused girls and young women at Rainbow is guiding them into a personal relationship with God, so they have an enduring hope, a living hope. Over the years, this is a primary factor in the restoration and redemption in their personal lives.
The double wedding was a lot of fun and a great blessing to these young women and their husbands. It has not been all smooth sailing for them since they left our Agape program at Rainbow, so we rejoice that, once again, we are blessed to be a part of further restoration and hope in their lives.
Many people in the Philippines, and other developing nations, don't get legally married because of poverty. Sounds strange to a western mind-set, but it's true. I once did a multi-couple wedding many years ago (I think there were twelve couples). It was sponsored by a benefactor with strong ties to the city government. It's a whole story in itself, but the joy and fulfillment of the wedding and legal marriage was evident.
Over the past couple years we (at Rainbow Village) have helped three of our former Agape girls get legally married. It is quite a process in the Philippines. There are legal papers and seminars required. Just getting all the legal papers in order is a major accomplishment. It's a project that takes time, but so worth the time and effort.
It was a great day of celebration and the whole staff participated. They decorated, cooked, cleaned, took photos, and set things up. Then, of course, they served and cleaned up afterwards. The joy and fulfillment for these couples is satisfying to us all.
These young women who had no hope of a good future when they came to Rainbow, are blessed once again. Being an abused single woman, especially single mothers, without education and embedded into a cycle of poverty is discouraging. Marriage does not mean everyone lives "happily ever after." But it does provide these young women with a better sense of hope for the future. We're glad to be a part of that with them.