Uganda Marriage and Family Renewal 2015 Conference
For the last five years, the Christians in Commerce (CIC) Uganda men’s and women’s chapter has been doing an annual week-long marriage and family renewal conference for couples every January.
When they started in 2010, there were only 25 couples. This past January, 135 couples attended the fifth annual conference. Praise God! This year's theme was taken from Ephesians 5:21 "Submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ."
The chapters used their contact people in different locations to publicize the event. They also used their most effective tool, the radio. This time all the couples registered well ahead of time, although there were a few who did not turn up. About half of the couples who came have not been involved with CIC, but were devoted listeners of the Uganda chapters' evangelical radio talk shows.
They divided the organizing team in to three committees: one was charged with the venue, another with food and purchases and the other with health and transport. They did this conference in a boarding secondary school because of the availability of power and water. They bought a lorry full of firewood, rented cooking pans and hired cooks, and every participant had food on time.
The participants were divided into four classes depending on the number of times they had attended the conference in the past. They set a ten-couple team of facilitators who gave the talks. Most of the instruction materials they use in these conferences were obtained from the Christians in Commerce Offices. They put this material into the local context.
The participants were very evidently moved and transformed by the all activities at the conference. These activities included talks, general group discussions, male group discussions, female group discussions, praise and worship, couple time, and reviews of past activities.
At this conference, four couples who had lived together for a very long time legitimized their marriages and were married. They held a wedding feast on Saturday evening where a priest came and wedded the couples. What a colorful celebration it was!
On the last day, Sunday afternoon, many couples testified how they had been transformed by the conference. One man said, ‘I have been a very poor listener to my wife. I did not believe she had something constructive to tell me. Now I have learned to listen to her and I will always sit down when she wants to talk to me.’ This man’s wife said amidst tears that for the first in their twelve-year marriage, her husband had asked her for forgiveness and promised not to hurt her again.
Another man apologized to the whole class for leaving all the hard labor in the home to his wife: ‘My wife fetches water from the pond, looks for firewood from the bush, digs in the farms, does all the cooking etc. single-handed because my culture exempts men from such work. I am going out of this conference with a new culture-the Jesus culture. I will do most of the work at home’, he said.
One lady said that she had learned that a renewed family is characterized by couple prayer, dialogue, and forgiveness. She said she and her husband had resolved to put these three things into practice.
Another man shared, ‘I have made many mistakes and harmed my family under the influence of alcohol, and I had a belief that alcohol made me manlier. From the teaching "Alcohol and Marital Cohesion", I have realized I am destroying myself and my family. I must stop drinking now one man said’.
There was another lady who said that, for all the time she had been married, she strove for private ownership of property in the home. She said she had her own chicken, goats and gardens. She said from the teaching: "Preserving a Couple's Unity" she had decided to release all the things and co-own them with her husband because private ownership had been creating a lot of tension in their marriage.
Still another woman confessed that she had sacrificed her marriage at the altar of church mission:‘I have been more concerned about church work than my marriage and family. I have now changed my attitude; my marriage should come first, for that is what builds the church,’ she said.