Since I knew Karista during our days as friends, she has been enjoying much more success than I. And with me struggling with my own set of ego problems, I found myself constantly trying to find ways to outshine her. Even after we got married, we would occasionally argue about over our income, contribution and even her ministry in church as a cell group leader. The real break came 2 years ago.
Then, we had a heated argument over some family matters. Both of us said awful words to each other and even when I wanted to reconcile with Karista, she refused to. She was badly hurt by the words that I had said. It was the worst argument we ever had for the past 5 years of our marriage.
I had no choice but to seek counsel from Susan Dunn. Initially, Karista was resistant to the idea of seeking help for our marriage problems but she eventually relented and met up with Susan.
Through the process, I realized that it was not just Karista who needed to change but I, too had a big part in determining the quality and atmosphere of our marriage. Susan encouraged us and I began to learn how I could support Karista and not let myself become a stumbling block to what God wants to do in her life.
I stepped back from fighting with her over security and self-esteem. I told her that God wants her to lead a great cell group and I want her to carry that mission out. From then on, I decided that I want to be more hands on with our daughter, Estella so she could carry out all her duties as a cell group leader in peace and without a single worry.
Since then, we grew closer in our marriage. One thing I am grateful to God for was the fact that when Karista and I chose to surrender our issues to God and let Him work in our lives, He also began to revive the dream and vision I had held in my heart for years.
When I was in bible school in 2003, I became acquainted with Pastor Yen from Rhema Harvest Church in Tainan, Taiwan. Every since then, whenever the opportunity arose, I would be in that church, preaching to the youths.
However, after I got married, I felt that unless the issues in my personal life were dealt with, I had no peace to minister in that church regardless of how much I wanted to. I told God that unless He gives His approval, I would not seek to feed my ego by returning to Rhema Harvest Church to minister there.
In 2010, I was planning a trip for my family to Taiwan and Pastor Yen heard about it. He invited both Karista and I to share in their youth service about our courtship experience – our failures and success in our relationship. That was just 4 months after Susan met us and started discipling us. We shared in that service about our ups and downs in life and that impacted the youths. We did an altar call for the youths to be prayed for their relationship and all responded and we prayed for every single one of them.
It was an unforgettable experience and since then, God has used Karista and I in many different ways to share our story and how a couple can overcome challenges and walk closer together.
Our marriage met with another setback again this year when we received the news that on our daughter’s 2nd birthday, we also lost the baby that Karista was carrying. She had a miscarriage. It was a big blow to both of us but I knew that in God, I had the capacity and grace to be the husband she needed me to be.
Once again, Susan was there for us and slowly but surely, we walked out of the valley into victory.
Recently, Karista and I had the privilege to be invited back to Taiwan to minister again to the church and because of what we had gone through together the last few years, we allowed God to use not as individuals but as a couple and once again, God showed up in a powerful way during the services when we shared and prayed for the people in Rhema Harvest Church.
I am grateful to God for providing me with wise counsel through Susan and for giving me a wonderful wife who believes and supports me so unwaveringly despite of my weaknesses.
One of the most painful experiences any woman can have is the pain and despair of miscarriage. 12 February 2012 was my daughter’s 2 year old birthday. That day was the day I had my miscarriage and lost our 2nd child. When I first got to know about this second pregnancy, Vincent and I were both very happy. We felt that this time round, it’s a boy and even thought of names for him.
And when the miscarriage happened, we were both devastated. Physically and emotionally, I was very weak. I cried almost the entire week. Knowing that this is the time I needed my husband the most, Vincent applied for two weeks of leave to accompany and support me. Although Vincent was also very depressed over the loss of our child, he knew that what was more important was my well being. Through this mishap, our love for each other grown deeper and I thank God for giving me a man who will always stand together with me.
As Vincent and myself begin to gel together, and our marriage went up to a new level, God brought us closer to our destiny. Together with Vincent, we had the opportunity to speak to at a seminar locally to about 10 couples, sharing with them the keys to building a strong marriage. We were also invited to go on radio station FM100.3, to speak during their Sunday night counseling session on air.
Just this month, both Vincent and I were once again invited to go to go to Rhema Harvest Church again to minister to their adults and youths on the topic on relationship. This time, I felt very different. I began to sense a burden for the sisters in that church. During our courtship, Vincent already had a burden for this church, and has always wanted to serve and minister to the people. However, I kept discouraging him and asked him to focus on building our local church instead. Now, I finally feel the burden that he has been carrying for the past 10 years! And I totally understand what it means by serving together with our spouse.
Pastor Yen asked us to share in 3 sessions and we decided to minister to the members at the end of each session. Most of the time, we shared about our life and our testimonies. During the altar call, we prayed and minister to those who have been hurt verbally and physically. Many responded and were overwhelmed by the presence of God. One of the couples whose wife is an unbeliever and has always resisted coming to church. That day, she attended our session and even came forward for the prayer! Praise God!
Looking forward, just like the vision that God has placed in our hearts when we first got married, we wanted our marriage to be a testimony to others. We wanted to show God’s mercy and grace in our lives and marriage and in turn, lead others to God.
This journey we are on is definitely not an easy one because the devil will want to destroy marriages, especially spirit-filled ones. He knows that if we are united and we can rely on one another then we will become very dangerous against his kingdom of darkness. Yet this is the kind of strong marriage we want to have; one that will ransack hell and populate Heaven.
We thank God that since the beginning of this year both of us are leading a cell group together and God has provided many open doors for us to minister to other couples and young adults in our group. God’s timing works best and when we wait, it all flows in nicely.
We want to take this opportunity to thank Susan Dunn for her love for us – her wisdom that speaks to us and the vision that she has. Though we may be miles apart, but she never fails to connect with us and disciple us. It is because of her, that we begin to see the vision and calling that God has placed in our life. Thank you Susan.
Thank you Jesus!
Vincent & Karista Teo