MarriageToday’s Jimmy and Karen Evans know firsthand that even the most seemingly hopeless marriages can be resurrected and restored
Twenty years ago in April 1993, a 39-year-old pastor woke up from a dream at 3 a.m., feeling like he’d heard from God.
“I saw my wife, Karen, and I sitting on a TV set talking to people about marriage,” says Jimmy Evans, founder and CEO of the international ministry MarriageToday. “I just had a strong impression in my heart that God wanted us to do a TV ministry that was very compassionate, excellent and about marriage.”
The next two mornings, he awoke from the same dream. But not unlike other leaders who receive a calling, Evans told God, “I’m not qualified. You need to find someone else.”
Still, he knew he’d heard from God and shared his dreams with Karen and the elders of Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo, Texas, where he has served as senior leader for 30 years to date. As he continued to pray about it, Jimmy says God gave him several promises and began to fulfill them. A little more than a year later, Jimmy and Karen had produced several pilot programs as a result.
The vision God gave Jimmy 20 years ago is now thriving, with the MarriageToday With Jimmy and Karen Evans broadcast reaching more than 110 million U.S. households and 200-plus countries. He recently released his 12th book, Lifelong Love Affair: How to Have a Passionate and Deeply Rewarding Marriage, and each year MarriageToday’s marriage seminar simulcasts are seen by tens of thousands in churches and homes throughout the world.
Jimmy Evans is a church leader passionate about helping marriages amid an ever-growing national divorce epidemic. That’s why we asked him to help us create an issue of Ministry Today that would inspire, challenge and equip leaders to not only champion marriage in their churches, but also on the homefront. As he points out in his cover story (page 16), more than 40 percent of first-time marriages end in divorce. Sadly, that 40 percent includes church leaders.
Our guest editor understands this reality well, having almost been part the statistic. Only three years into their marriage, the once deeply in love high school sweethearts (they met in high school biology class and married at age 19), were on the brink of divorce. After two years of marriage, Jimmy began to be verbally abusive to his wife, and she gradually began to stand up to him. Both were convinced they had married the wrong person. One night, believing the marriage wasn’t salvageable, Jimmy told Karen to leave.
“Karen had confronted me again about golfing too much, and I just said, ‘Get out,’ ” Jimmy remembers.
That night, the Holy Spirit convicted him, Jimmy says. “I told the Holy Spirit, ‘I want You to teach me how to be a husband,’ and that ‘if You’ll help us, we’ll help others.’”
Jimmy is quick to say their marriage was not saved overnight. But that prayer was the beginning of healing—and their ministry. He and Karen recently celebrated 40 years of marriage on May 11, 2013. And both say they’ve never been closer. But the road to where they are today has been far from smooth. The Evans family knows what it’s like to see their marriage—and thousands of others—not only resurrected from the ashes, but also restored in a culture that says marriage is dispensable and in a church environment that often places more emphasis on leaders’ ministry success than the success of their families.
I hope you’ll be encouraged by the similar stories of restoration and redemption in this issue, and that the insights of the many leaders we’ve assembled (Chris Hodges, Rick Bezet, Derwin Gray, Benny Perez, Brady Boyd, etc.) will challenge you to become a marriage builder both in your home and your church.
Ultimately, Evans is calling the local church to revolution and, like true revolutionaries, to lead the charge and act on their convictions! He believes churches are focused on the casualties, investing more resources in divorce recovery than marriage building, and in the process missing the call to strengthen marriages before the fatal blow.
“Every church and every church leader should be in this battle to strengthen couples before it gets bloody,” he says. “The price is far too great.”
I couldn’t agree more.