December 29, 2017

Renewed vows and washed feet

Written by  Emily Jones
Peruvian Mennonite pastoral couples wash each other’s feet in a gesture of Biblical servanthood during a first-time marriage retreat for Peruvian Mennonite pastoral couples in Urubamba, Peru. The October 6–8 retreat was led by former EMM workers Steve and Beth Gibbs. Photos provided by Beth Gibbs. Peruvian Mennonite pastoral couples wash each other’s feet in a gesture of Biblical servanthood during a first-time marriage retreat for Peruvian Mennonite pastoral couples in Urubamba, Peru. The October 6–8 retreat was led by former EMM workers Steve and Beth Gibbs. Photos provided by Beth Gibbs.

Many husbands and wives who serve as pastoral couples understand the physical, emotional, and spiritual burnout that can result from the continuous work of full-time ministry. Steve and Beth Gibbs, who served for thirteen years in Peru as EMM workers in church development, certainly remember the demands of working with the developing church.

That’s why Steve and Beth returned to Peru this October to offer a marriage retreat for fifteen Peruvian couples in ministry. For some couples living in far-flung mountain villages, it took two days to travel to the retreat in the town of Urubamba. This retreat would be the first time some of them had ever stayed in a hotel.

The retreat was intended to refresh the couples and give them space to focus on their Christ-centered commitment as partners in life and ministry. EMM workers Mike and Nancy Hostetter, and also Duane and Joanna Harrison, were there to help.

The retreat opened with dinner and a showing of the recent film War Room, about the significance of prayer as experienced through a marriage in crisis. The movie addressed issues of communication, forgiveness, and love in marriage that were helpful points of reference throughout the retreat.

A day of teaching and sharing followed, in which couples reflected on the importance of communication, understanding, and collaboration in their marriages. There was a time of sharing prayer needs and spending time in group prayer for each couple.

The last day of the retreat held three ceremonial events that served as illustrations of godly commitment. For the attendees, these were some of the most significant and anticipated moments of the retreat.

First the couples stood in a row, holding hands down the middle, and renewed their vows to each other. Then they took turns washing each other’s feet, as Jesus did for His disciples. Finally, the couples confirmed their Christ-centered partnerships by taking communion together.

Steve and Beth were honored to host this time of rest and reflection for these hardworking pastoral couples. They expressed their hope that the couples will be encouraged to understand each other better and work together more closely as they serve the Lord.