Tiny Bible church forgoes building to save marriages

If you walked into Redeemer’s Hope on a typical Sunday, you might think this tiny independent Bible church in a rented room is way too small to be doing big things for Jesus.

You’d be wrong.

Their average attendance is about 30 souls – less than half of what it was two years ago, when a divorce shocked and divided this tight-knit congregation and brought those that remained to their knees.

Neil DeSiato -- The Marriage Pastor

Neil DeSiato -- The Marriage Pastor

“People think divorce is a personal decision, a family decision. But the truth is, it affects everyone around you,” said Neil DeSiato, founder and part-time pastor of Redeemer’s Hope in north central San Antonio.

As someone whose own first marriage unraveled 20 years ago, DeSiato saw the event as a wakeup call.

“A church can’t fulfill its mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus if all the families in it are falling apart,” he said. “We need to understand that strong marriages are the very foundation of a strong community.”

Inspired and encouraged by a successful weekend couple’s retreat based on the Christian bestseller “Sacred Marriage,” the church decided to bring the book’s author, Gary Thomas, to San Antonio – to teach couples how to apply Biblical principles to strengthen their marriages.

“Gary’s message is 100 percent Bible-based, and centered around this simple-yet-profoundly radical question: What if God’s purpose for marriage isn’t so much about making us happy as it is about making us holy?”

Deciding to host a Sacred Marriage conference was a no-brainer. Finding a way to pay for it was another matter altogether.

“In a church our size, most of what goes into the offering plate is needed to pay the rent and electric bill,” DeSiato said.

We need to understand that strong marriages are the very foundation of a strong community.

The congregation had started a modest building fund several years ago with the hope of someday breaking ground on their own worship center. After several months of fasting and praying, the members voted to leverage those funds to save marriages.

“A building is just an empty shell,” DeSiato explained. “A church, on the other hand, is a group of people moved by the generosity and compassion of Jesus to reach out and share that ‘good news’ with others. So that’s what we’re doing. If it’s God’s will, He will provide a building for us someday.”

The Sacred Marriage Conference is scheduled for Friday evening, Oct. 14, and Saturday morning, Oct. 15 at Redeemer’s Hope, 12475 Starcrest Drive. Details and registration are available online at http://SacredMarriageSA.com.

“The Gospel message that Jesus taught is a message of hope – that no one is beyond redemption if they’ll just turn and follow Him,” DeSiato said. “That same hope applies to our marriages too.

“I can’t fix my marriage. My spouse can’t fix our marriage. What we can do is fix our eyes on Jesus. And He does have the power to soften our hard hearts, and heal our wounds.”