March 2012 –Alan Redpath, a well-known British evangelist and pastor, once said, “A church is no stronger than its homes, for a church is made up of families.” AFA president Tim Wildmon looked beyond the scope of that quote, knowing that not only are churches strengthened by strong families, but culture as a whole is as well.
Subsequently, AFA added Rev. Bert Harper as a full-time director of marriage, family and pastoral ministries. His background and experience have prepared him well for the role.
Harper has been a pastor for 37 years, 28 of which were served in one church. During his tenure as pastor, Harper developed a retreat he called the Fishbowl Retreat for pastors and their wives.
This weekend seminar was designed for married couples in ministry to strengthen spousal relationships and relationships with Christ.
“We had to use the word fishbowl,” Harper said, “because, as every minister is acutely aware, once you surrender to the ministry, you live life in a fishbowl with people examining you from every angle.”
After leading several of these retreats, Harper and his wife Jan began receiving requests from pastors to come to their churches to teach the Bible-based lessons. These pastors knew the value inherent in the teachings and wanted their entire congregations to receive a blessing through it.
Since he came to the AFA staff last fall, Harper and AFA leaders have developed a plan of action called CPR: Christ’s Plan for Relationships. Harper shared with AFA Journal just what this new arm of ministry will offer.
AFA Journal: What is CPR for Marriages?
Bert Harper: We have designed these conferences to have five sessions, and each follows the theme of CPR. The first session is called “Family History: Christ’s Power for Restoration.” It deals with spouses’ pasts because everyone brings baggage into a relationship. We want to unpack that, give an opportunity for forgiveness and healing and move forward.
The second session is “Vital Signs: Christ’s Presence Renewed.” Every individual has a unique personality. How can the two of you, with your distinct personalities go through the process of becoming one, as Scripture commands all married people to be?
The third session focuses on each spouse’s passions and is “The Examination: Christ’s Purpose Renewed.” We use that to strengthen the marriage.
The fourth session, “Tests and Diagnosis: Christ’s Promise Reproduced,” dives into parenting issues. We teach couples how to deal with differences of opinions and overcome them.
The final session is a prescription for the future, “Prescriptions and Prognosis: Christ’s Price for Redemption.” We develop a plan of action for a couple’s marriage with practical and applicable steps they can do the night they get home and what they can do every day from then on.
AFAJ: What can people expect from CPR for Marriages?
BH: People who come to a CPR for Marriages conference can expect a couple of things. They can expect to be encouraged. Marriage is hard. But it is also amazing.
Couples can also expect to walk away with hope and the skills to have the marriage God intended. Scripture says that man and wife are to be one. That is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. We want to help couples begin or continue that process with a new passion.
CPR for Marriages is available for churches across the country. There are two schedule options. The first schedule begins on Friday night with two sessions on Saturday and two final sessions on Sunday. The second schedule begins with three sessions on Sunday and finishes with the last two on Monday.
Prices are flexible. AFA will try to work with any church that wants to hold a conference. For more information, to find a conference near you or to organize a conference in your church, visit
www.repairingthefoundations.net or call 800-326-4543 x302