John grew up Southern Baptist and participated in Sunday school regularly. His family attended church faithfully and was involved in many programs. After high school, John went to college and fell in love with Sharon, the woman of his dreams. But six years into the marriage, John had an affair, and his marriage crumbled. So did John. Spiritually, John walked away from God; physically, he walked away from his family. John quickly fell out of touch with God, the church, and hope.

Diane's family also regularly attended worship services throughout her childhood. Her nondenominational church taught her how to study the Bible and emphasized holy living. Diane tried to live up to that ideal. She married the son of a wealthy family in town but quickly realized that he was an abusive tyrant, driven by selfishness. His vows to love, honor, and cherish meant nothing, and he soon began to torment Diane and their children during alcohol-induced tirades of violence and intimidation. She suffered for many years, but his persistent hardheartedness eventually convinced her that divorce was the only safe course of action. After her divorce, Diane felt a great deal of spiritual shame when she attended church. The looks on people's faces, comments made behind her back, and passionate sermons on divorce all made her feel small and unworthy.

When Diane met John two years later she, too, had drifted from church. Because the pain of their past cautioned them against trust, they took their time courting one another. But once it became clear that they and their children had a future together, they joined in marriage.

Their first priority after the wedding was to get back into church. Living in a new community where no one knew their pasts, they hoped ...

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October 2007

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