Alliance Marriage Retreat Has Lasting Impact

By Len and Diane Warden, serving in Brazil

Broken lives are being restored through Alliance Marriage Encounter (ALMA), a ministry that is well established in Latin America and has spread to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The “48 Hours of Love” runs Friday through Sunday evening and is designed to transform marriages—even of couples who are ready to divorce. Alliance workers Len and Diane Warden have been involved in ALMA for many years. In the following adapted excerpt, they share about the ministry’s impact on one couple’s life.

Tadeu and Marilene attended an ALMA weekend in São Paulo as a last resort. If it did not save their marriage, they planned to separate the following Monday.

At the end of the retreat, we congratulated the couples who had attended. Tadeu and Marilene thanked us for being there and for singing “their” love songs. Tadeu said that ALMA had transformed their marriage—they would not be separating.

The couple wanted to visit our church to show their appreciation. But they said, “We are Catholic and have our saints.” We said good-bye and never expected to see them again.

To our surprise, they arrived at our church the following Sunday. They ran to Len and embraced him. Again, they told us how ALMA had changed their marriage. They said they loved the service but, because they were Catholics, would not be back. We hugged them and thanked them for the visit.

Something Missing

They returned the following two Sundays. On the third visit, Tadeu told us that there was still something missing inside him. He asked Len if he knew what it was. Len responded that he would be happy to tell him and invited the couple to dinner.

After we ate, the couple could hardly wait for Len to explain the reason for the emptiness in Tadeu’s life. Len shared that Tadeu needed Jesus, who desired an intimate, personal relationship with both Tadeu and Marilene. “Jesus is waiting for you to come to him, confess your sins, and invite Him into your life,” Len said.

Tadeu thought about it. “I understand what you are saying,” he said, “but I’m Catholic and I have my saints.” Len said it was up to Tadeu to make this decision, and he could do it anytime he wanted. The couple left, pondering the words they had heard.

The following Sunday they came to church. Tadeu ran up to Len and hugged him. “I did it! I did it!” Tadeu said. “I asked Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me, and I gave up all of my saints!”

The Rest of the Story

Tadeu started telling his family and friends how ALMA had helped his marriage and what God had done in him personally. He brought people to the evening services, and we began Bible studies in his home.

Out of this group a church started. It has its own pastoral team, and Tadeu and Marilene are part of the leadership. The congregation is reaching a segment of São Paulo where we had no church before. Most of the couples have participated in ALMA and have made commitments to Christ.

When Tadeu and Marilene attended ALMA, they had a five-year-old daughter named Carol. Today, she is a high school graduate who recently visited some of our international workers in the Amazon basin. Carol feels that God has called her to full-time service as a translator. She has enrolled in a university to prepare for this ministry.

As we anticipate retirement, our last task is to bring the ALMA ministry to Lagoa Santa. We are preparing a group of couples who have participated in ALMA in São Paulo during the last four years. Our first event will be held in August 2014. Pray for God’s anointing and empowerment for the couples who will host and assist with the retreat. Pray, too, that lives and marriages will be transformed.

What You Can Do


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Learn More

Read about an ALMA retreat in Indonesia.

To find out what God is doing around the world through Alliance international workers, check out Great Commission Sunday 2014.


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