george_hancockstefanWhen I was courting my wife, we would joke about her dreaming of marrying a foreigner from distant lands.  My wife grew up in a well-settled American community where most of the people could talk about their grandparents living there in the 19th century.  I was the first person her church hired who did not have a New Jersey accent. Our relationship was not love at first sight.  We became co-workers, friends, we dated, we broke up, I moved away and then we became engaged and got married.

One day I visited a friend whose granddaughter is the age of my grandson. On my way home I thought, “This could be a perfect match!” No sooner did I think of this then I started to laugh and I was glad that I was by myself in the car.  It was a ridiculous idea.  I would never tell my grandson who he should marry as I did not tell my married daughter who to marry.

Yet, I am aware that there are cultures in which matchmaking is common – royal matchmakings, Jewish matchmakings, Indian matchmakings.  I read stories that report that arranged weddings have the same percentage of lasting a long time as those in the Western world where we choose our spouses.

I know that some pastors have made matches within their churches. The pastor of my church in Detroit was very good at it. He worked his magic by bringing people from Eastern Europe to marry people in the United States. He always had pictures to show of relatives and friends still in Europe. There are some people in Detroit who he has paired that are happily married even today. There were some people who he matched but upon landing in the USA, they have changed their minds and found other people.

When it comes to matchmaking, I stay away from it because I think that I will be as effective as my unannounced visits.  The minister who served here two pastors before me was called God’s angel by some people because he appeared when you needed help.  So I tried to imitate him and had three disastrous, unannounced visitations.  The people in the church know that I will not appear unannounced because I am not in the angelic visitation brigade and I also do not do matchmakings because I am not gifted with that magic of bringing people together.

Although I am not a matchmaker, I am fascinated by how people come together.  I have done premarital counseling for people who told me that they knew that they will get married to one another since elementary school.  I also have known couples who came together because they were dating someone else on a double date.  I know a couple where the wife was engaged to someone else until this man came and told her that she will marry him instead.  She protested and sent him away, but six months later they were married.  Some people feel that there is only one person in the whole world with whom they will be blissfully happy, and there are others who believe that they could be happy with one of many people and that God will bless their covenanted marriage.

The only thing that I know as a pastor is that God in the Old Testament and in the New Testament spoke explicitly against being yoked together with people that not honor Him.  God will bless marriages with natives and foreigners, God will bless marriages across racial distinctives – God will bless all the marriages that set out to honor Him.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...