Growing love and respect for Valentine’s Day

Growing love and respect on Valentine's Day

How is your garden of hearts growing this Valentine's Day?

Since today is Valentine’s Day, it seems fitting to celebrate with Peruvians Wilmer and Elizabeth.

In their country, Valentine’s Day is called Día de San Valentín or Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship). It’s a national holiday, and Peruvians exchange cards, chocolates, teddy bears and other expressions of affection.

Not long ago, Wilmer and Elizabeth’s relationship was in such shambles that Valentine’s Day would have been the last of their priorities.

As a bus fare collector, Wilmer earned less than minimum wage. Instead of covering the basic needs of his family, he wasted his meager earnings on alcohol and gambling. He was rarely at home. He mistreated his wife and son, often using violence to get his way.

Desperate Measures

Desperate, Elizabeth began washing other people’s clothes to earn money for her family’s needs. She felt angry, unloved and abandoned, saying, “I was very sad and desperate by the way my husband treated us. He didn’t show affection for me or my son Ruben. I decided to leave him, but then I couldn’t do it, because I got pregnant. I didn’t know what to do.”

She approached Food for the Hungry (FH) staff for help. They prayed with Elizabeth and Ruben, and Ruben joyfully accepted their invitation to attend the Kid’s club that FH facilitates. During several home visits, FH staff counseled Wilmer about the way God expects him to treat his family. They also helped Elizabeth break the news he was about to be the father of twins. Once he got over the shock, he agreed to attend FH’s Prevention of Family Violence (PFV) meetings.

Learning how to be a Christian husband and father

Teaching from Ephesians 5:23, FH helped Wilmer learn that a Christian father should set an example for his family as he earns a living, directs the household with love and respect for each member, and as he fulfills his role as head of the house. He soon realized that he needed to adjust both his attitude and the way he cared for his family.

Now, rather than go to the local bar after work, Wilmer can’t wait to see his family. “When I get out of work, I run to see my twins, Ruben and my wife,” he said.

Peruvian boys

Children like these benefit from programs that help parents learn how to love and respect each other and their families.

Wilmer and Elizabeth continued their spiritual counseling and biblical studies in their home. With their life so transformed, they decided to host a Bible study in their home to help other couples to improve their family relationships.

“Wilmer decided to help [his wife] on his day-off instead of playing with his friends. He knows that being a responsible father is very important for the unity and well-being of his family,” said Rose, FH staff.

Growing love and respect

With his parents’ relationship thriving, young Ruben is now basking in the family’s new-found harmony – and his twin siblings. He’s doing better in school now that Wilmer is helping him with his homework and having fun with the family again.  Wilmer’s legacy of love and respect is now growing in his children.

“I’m very grateful to God, because He answered our prayers,” said Elizabeth. “God has changed my husband.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, Elizabeth and Wilmer … and to you readers who are inspired by their story on this day of romance and love. Thank you for your financial gifts and prayers that make stories like theirs possible.

About Karen Randau

A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen uses her blog posts to put into action her passion for helping people be all that God intended them to be. She is able to do this through her role in the Food for the Hungry communications department of the Global Service Center in Phoenix in two ways. First, she helps people understand the plight faced by impoverished people in developing nations. Second, she brings light to the successful ways Food for the Hungry is helping people.

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