Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 17, 2000
Group strengthens families' faith
Couples for Christ centres on prayer, Bible teachings, fellowship
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Couples for Christ has become a family affair.
With its handful of ministries, the program has become something for everyone in the family.
"We find that it becomes more effective if everyone in the family gets involved," said Lito Soco, the Edmonton chapter head.
Started in 1981 by eight couples in the Philippines, Couples for Christ was an opportunity for couples to get together for prayer, Bible teachings and fellowship. The movement grew as each couple started inviting friends to the meetings.
It has since spanned into other ministries such as Kids for Christ, Youth for Christ, Singles for Christ, Handmaids for Christ and Servants of the Lord.
"It's good to have your kids in it," said Soco whose three children are part of the Kids for Christ and Youth for Christ group. "It's good that they're there. At least we know where they are, who they're with and what they're doing."
Soco and his wife Sylvia have been part of the group since 1987. He can't talk enough about the group now, but that wasn't the case at the beginning.
"I was forced into it," he said smiling.
A friend invited him to join, but Soco made every excuse to avoid attending the initial meeting. He finally committed to a meeting, but decided to forgo it at the last minute.
"I tried to hide out from them," Soco said. "But when I got home, there they were waiting for me, to take me to the meeting. So I had to go with them."
Soco felt a little out of place. The group was quite charismatic in its praise of the Lord, with members raising their arms to the heavens, proclaiming the Lord's name, singing and clapping.
"It was very different. My initial reaction was I was turned off by it."
But he soon found himself attracted to the movement and became accustomed to the excitement that fills the crowd during worship.
"I think some people find this uncomfortable," Soco said. "I don't know why. It's a joyful way of praising our Lord. Everyone is happy and singing."
Soco helped establish the movement in Edmonton in 1995. Since then it has grown to 45 couples. In total there are more than 200 members in all the family ministries. There are four groups in the city which each meet once a week. All the couples in each group meet once a month.
The program is active in five parishes, St. Andrew, St, Charles, Annunciation, Good Shepherd and Soco's parish, St. Theresa.
The meetings are a combination social gathering and teaching opportunity. There are also retreats, talks by special guests and readings of the Word of God.
"It's not enough to meet for prayers, you have to grow as well and you can't grow without teachings."
The sharing of experiences among the couples during the meetings is enlightening said Soco, because it's from his own peers.
"It's not something from a priest or a scholar, but from people like me. We share the same problems. We really understand each other."
The group has not been bursting at the seams with new members and part of that is the commitment people have to make in joining Couples for Christ.
New members start with a 12-week Christian Life program which introduces them to the basic understanding of God's call to Christian couples. After the session, they are asked to join the group. Some accept the invitation, some decline.
Often, it's the weekly gatherings which turn people off. Most who don't join say, "I don't have the time."
"That's basically the objection to it - the time," Soco said. "But if God gives you an extra two hours a day, what would you do with it? You might watch more TV or do something else. You probably would not give it back to the Lord.
"This is time we give to the Lord. It's a commitment, it's for our Lord."