November 4, 2016

I do, I do, I do, I do!

Written by  Lucille Zimmerman
Four couples listen as Paw Leau conducts the wedding ceremony. Four couples listen as Paw Leau conducts the wedding ceremony. Photo provided by Mark and Sarah Schoenhals.

This article appears in the November/December 2016 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.

It was a happy day for four couples in our church. Wan and Jalt had been living together before they came to Jesus. But now it is official — they are husband and wife!

Bride price

Our church, the Life Enrichment Church in Det Udom, hosted a wedding for anyone in the church who wanted to get married. Four couples signed up. In Asia, the groom's family is responsible to pay a bride price, and it can be a huge burden for people. Often this price is worth about a year's wages, which puts the family into debt. The higher the status of the bride’s family, the higher the price. Many families’ financial burdens are due to such bride prices.

Families with daughters are usually spared such financial burden. On the other hand, it is their responsibility to take in the new son-in-law — which can mean another mouth to feed if he’s lazy, or a great source of help if he’s a hard worker.

A blessing

Many families' financial burdens are due to bride prices.
Many couples who don't have money simply live together in common-law marriages. That's what the four couples that the church married were doing. As a church here, we want believers to have a high view of marriage without the heavy financial burden. So the four couples who wanted to get married were asked to help with the cost of the meal, the clothing rentals, and some decorations, but the emphasis was put on enjoying a meaningful ceremony and giving honor to God.

Each couple had some premarital counseling from the elders of the church, and Wan shared with me how much of a difference that has made in her relationship with Jalt already. Wan’s father also traveled a distance to be at the wedding. This was his first introduction to the church, and he was very impressed and touched.

It was a beautiful day. The weddings were traditional, but contained Christian praise and worship. For me, the special part was seeing the brides and grooms smile from ear to ear, and hearing each couple’s testimony of how God brought them together.

Lucille Zimmerman has served in Thailand for 10 years in economic development and walking alongside the local church. If you would like to support Lucille, please contact Barry Freed at barryf@ emm.org.

This article appears in the November/December 2016 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.