Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Spring Break! Part the Second: The Importance of Being Premaritally Counselled


Pastor and Mrs. Yahiro

The importance of premarital counselling supercedes the importance of using correct grammar and real words in blog entry titles. That mysterious institution (some consider it a sacrament) in which “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” is a daunting project to embark on and next to the Grace of God, total bilateral commitment, concurring life goals, unconditional love and maybe a few other things I have not remembered to mention here, the practical preparation of heart and mind is the most important thing in making it work. In choosing the people to facilitate this preparation of heart and mind, Yuko and I had a couple of things in mind. First, we were looking for someone who shares a similar biblical interpretation of marriage. This we were both agreed on from the start because it would be very difficult to reap any meaningful insight from someone with a completely different understanding of what marriage really is. We also wanted to have someone of a ripe age, nearing the final phases of a successful marriage. We wanted to be able to draw on a lifetime of wisdom and experience. A final point which we only arrived at after some lengthy discussion was to look for someone who either knew us equally well or equally poorly. Since we didn’t feel that there was anyone in Sapporo who could be said to know us equally well, we opted to look for someone who didn’t know us at all. In the end we approached the pastor of the church at which our wedding will take place. Pastor Yahiro will not be performing the service since that office falls to my father, but he has provided invaluable assistance in making arrangements for using his church.


Yuko and Me Doing Our Homework: We Had Three Four-hour Sessions in All


For the second session we were invited to dinner at Pastor and Mrs. Yahiro’s house. They are a brilliant couple. Pastor Yahiro never made it to high school and ended up working for a construction company when he was fifteen. One day he was so ashamed to discover some former classmates watching his menial labour from a nearby overpass that he determined to become a sailor. He successfully brought this to pass, and met his future wife one day when his ship was docked in Nagoya. Soon he was engaged and going to college for his sea captains’ course. Then he became a believer in Jesus Christ, and everything changed. He cancelled the scheduled Shinto marriage ceremony, and his fiancĂ©e gave him an ultimatum: choose her or choose Christianity. He told her he chose both, and asked her to reconsider. In time she did, and by the time of their wedding she also was a believer in Jesus Christ. After getting married, Pastor Yahiro returned to sea and Mrs. Yahiro continued working for a bank. For a time they lived lavishly on a rather large double income. Then another change came. They both felt a calling to attend seminary and prepare for a life of pastoring churches. They went from opulence to virtual poverty in a very short time. Those years during which they raised six children by faith in God (with hardly any money at all) form the basis of the authoritative experience from which the Yahiro’s are able counsel young Christian couples who are just setting out on the journey of marriage. One of the areas I especially wanted to cover in our counselling sessions was family finances, and the Yahiro’s were the perfect couple to give us practical guidance in this area. In fact, after dinner during our second session, Mrs. Yahiro gave us a two hour lesson on the subject, drawing on her own rich experience and showing us her own budget planners to illustrate what she was talking about. God Bless the Yahiro’s