Unconditional love: Church offers couple's Bible study for Valentine's Day

By Jessica Connor

KINGSTREE—This Valentine's Day, a group of couples in the Florence District is embracing a way to fire up — and fireproof — their love life.

St. Paul United Methodist Church, Kingstree, is offering Fireproof Your Marriage, a couple s Bible study ministry to strengthen love and marriage the way God intended.

The study is held at St. Paul UMC, but is open to interested couples of any faith or denomination in the community or district. There is no charge.

Marriage is the foundation for our families, said Cynthia Williams, who is leading the study with her husband, Alphonza. In this economy when we have so much turmoil and so many are unemployed, and finance is usually the biggest thing that causes divorce, we have to study the principles of the Bible and remember we are not living by the economy. We are living by the principles of Jesus.

The six-week Bible study began Jan. 8 and will continue Sundays though Feb. 12. Couples may enter the group at any time, even the very last day.

A published study engaging groups across the nation, Fireproof Your Marriage is based on the 2008 Christian movie Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron as a firefighter who must save his marriage. Williams said the movie s main point is about never leaving your partner, especially in a fire. She said that theme relates well to real-life marriage.

My husband and I have been through a lot of turmoil and made it to a good point in our marriage and in our lives, Williams said, noting that she hopes other couples will embrace lessons they learned and develop new skills to keeping their marriage fresh, deep and true.

By strengthening the family, we are strengthening the congregations, Williams said. We are in a better place to make disciples when we have that bond, loving each other as God intended.

During the Bible study, couples learn new ways to be nice to each other and appreciate each other. After all, she said, men and women are often very different “ God created us this way “ but sometimes the differences can be frustrating. Learning to appreciate those differences and your partner can be key.

In our differences, we ve got to find where we are alike and work through those things with God, Williams said.

The Williamses are trying to make the study fun for participants: romantic lighting, a red tablecloth, candles for prayer and popcorn (one box per couple). Each session, the couples witness, share, love and grow with one another and with God. Study topics include forgiveness, marriage as a covenant, God-designed differences and unconditional love.

It s working well, participants say.

St. Paul member Genevieve Burgess and her husband, Bruce, feel the Bible study is extremely helpful, and she thinks all couples will benefit from it.

We are never too old to learn and to try new things, Burgess said, calling the study real and alive. Being in a marriage many, many years, you have to do new things to continue to have the love and appreciation for one another that we started out with. ¦ As you get a little older you become a little edgy sometimes, and this has been very enlightening. All of us are growing more aware of our relationships.

After the study is complete, couples can then begin Love Dare, a 40-day challenge.

To join the study, couples will need to purchase the Fireproof Your Marriage couples kit, Fireproof movie and the 40-day Love Dare challenge, which Williams said can all be found at

For more information about the study, call Williams at 843-372-1009, or visit www.fireproofmymarriage. com.

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