Major Highlight 20-Year Anniversary
© Paul Yoh
One of the major highlights of the last year was the celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary, hallelujah! We received this cool email response when we shared about it in one or our newsletters.
From our friend Randy:
Congratulations on the continued successful ministry and especially on your 20th wedding anniversary. The last is no small feat, and in fact, in this day and age, is a miracle! 20 years of on the road ministry! Raising a beautiful son! Staying together... Pushing through the lean and the stressful times with persistent love! I am impressed and I happily celebrate this tremendous achievement. Jesus wanted to teach by example. You guys teach love by example. I have always seen God's divine love flowing through you both. You guys are a walking testament to a truly Christian life, one that is filled with adventures in faith and love.
Happy anniversary and keep in His light and on His path!
It is Hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since we said our vows to one another years back in front of friends and family in Newport Beach; boy, time really does fly by.
It is glorious to see how God's grace, love, power, and mercy has continually worked through His Holy Spirit in our lives to continue to accomplish His will that was announced from the very beginning of time: "A man shall leave his mother and father and the two shall become one flesh." God by His grace is continually working all the time fulfilling that goal in deeper and deeper ways—it is incredible to be more in love and feeling deeper as one with God and each other twenty years on into it all; God truly is amazing.
We give all glory to God to have this testimony in this day of broken marriages. Both of our parents got divorced while each of us was growing up, which greatly stacked the odds against us having a marriage that survives. We are humbled and thankful for His incredible grace which always turns everything for good in such amazing and unexpected ways, and without which we’d likely find ourselves on the killing floor just like so many others who are trying to clean up the wreckage of a broken marriage. Nevertheless, His mercy and amazing grace has continually overflowed by the sheer power of the Holy Spirit to make us more into one all the time.
Divine Appointment: Seat-saving With Lasting Consequences
We get asked regularly how we met, which is a bit of a wild and crazy story, so it is always fun to retell it:
Mercedes and I met at a conference in Kansas City, some 22 years ago, a place neither of us had ever been to before.
We had both been attending Anaheim Vineyard at that time, but had never met each other there. A brief passing in the hall did have us catch each other’s eye one time though.
Mercedes’ family had come up and moved to the US all the way from Argentina, specifically for the revival that was happening at the Vineyard Anaheim in those days. I also had been filled with the Holy Spirit and received much healing myself in the early days of that same revival.
The Anaheim Vineyard was doing a conference together with Kansas City Fellowship (what later became IHOP), and each of us, come to find out later, felt God was leading us out to this conference in Kansas City for something special.
In fact, as I was waiting for confirmation from the Lord, those holding the airline tickets were getting a bit annoyed at my “insistence to wait upon God” as they called it, but confirmation came from the Lord and proved to be of great importance.
A Big Meeting
A big meeting was set for the last night of the conference. I had saved a seat near the front row in the 8,000-seat auditorium, which was packed out.
Having gone to a lake that day with some friends during the afternoon, I was surprised to come back to find my things from my seat thrown into a pile in the corner, along with other people’s clothing, jackets, and notebooks. The ushers had decided, that at the very last meeting, after a whole week of everyone saving seats, to institute a new practice of “no seat saving” for the final and last meeting, not much time for people to get used to the new policy really.
There turned out to be quite a few disgruntled people saying it was a little late in the day to suddenly change everything, after allowing seats to be saved the whole week. You could definitely hear some grumbling as people were rummaging through the huge piles of clothing and notebooks, trying to find their stuff.
I finally found my stuff in the pile, and then decided I might as well go to the back of auditorium since I now didn’t have a seat.
As I was walking by the front of the auditorium on my way to find a new place to sit, a small group of guys I had never met began calling out to me. I didn’t know them, but went over and asked, “What’s up.”
“We save extra seats and are praying who to give them to, and we all just felt you are supposed to sit here,” they told me. “Wow!” I said, “You have actually saved seats and are praying who to give them to?” “Must be doing it undercover lest you get persecuted by the ushers!” “You know,” I responded “I was going to be sitting here in the front originally, and then lost my seat to the ushers’ little game of musical chairs. I think I’m supposed to be sitting up here after all.”
I was back near the front row again, but the seats had just been rearranged a little bit by the Lord.
I took the offered seat and soon noticed a young lady from the Vineyard I had seen once before in the hall there, sitting close to me. “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” I said. Well, as lame as that line was, it was true. We had the Vineyard Anaheim as a reference point so we struck up a conversation quite easily. After talking a while, we also began to find that we both felt called by the Lord towards similar things.
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ mother who was standing next to her, told Mercedes after hearing us converse for a while: “I think I just met my future son-in-law.” Mercedes was naturally quite shocked at these unexpected words. Fortunately, I didn’t overhear this statement as I would probably have thought this was some strange Kansas City marriage-arranging cult and would have hauled out of there.
Her mom had actually had a vision of us being wrapped in cords of love right when we met—a vision that obviously proved itself to be true in due time.
However, the cords of love came a little later as we spent the first year just being friends and hanging out after church and occasionally doing stuff together like having a time of worship with a guitar on the beach or a game of tennis.
We later began to officially date when we were both quite aware from the leading of the Lord where it was all heading—to the marriage altar. Once we knew that, we were just waiting on God’s timing to tie that old knot.
A Ring, A Beard, and A Wedding Dress
The Lord gave numerous confirmations that he was calling us to marry. Unusual miracles and divine occurrences continued to lead the way in sometimes amusing fashion:
When I went to meet Mercedes’ dad for the first time, I was in the middle of a Nazarite vow. After hanging around Lonnie Frisbee at that time, I got the Nazarite bug and took on this vow for a time—I didn’t know it was going to be a challenge of trusting God and overcoming the fear of man.
I had been going on for almost six months and I had a gigantic beard down to almost my chest as well as long hair down my back and I was looking like an old Moses doll that the cat had dug up and dragged in—not really how you want to be looking when you meet your prospective father-in-law. It was a time of testing as I was more than tempted to shave it all off before meeting her dad, but I felt led to hold steady and continue forward with what I was doing.
In fact, Mercedes mother had said: “I hope you’re going to shave off that ridiculous beard before you meet Mercedes’ dad.” She had actually called Mercedes’ dad to warn him that I looked like a gosh-darn hippie and to be prepared when he meets me that I resembled a hillbilly.
Her dad’s a pretty clean-cut, straight-laced guy, so it was quite surprising when the first words he said upon meeting me were: “Mercedes’ mother said you have a big ugly beard and look like some crazed hippie but I don’t see what the problem is. I used to have a beard and I happen to like beards.” That was more than shocking; what looked like something that would be a problem turned out to work for good, with a little twist on what everybody thought would be a negative actually turning out to be positive. In fact, the little warning from Mercedes’ mother actually caused him to be more positive to me just to spite her, since they had a bit of an acrimonious history since divorcing.
This was followed up by her dad saying, “I heard you got a ring already. Let me have a look at that thing.” He responded with a disdainful “hmmff” followed by: “Why don’t you take that little thing back and keep the money and give her this instead.” He gave me a beautiful diamond ring, which blew the little ring I’d bought away. Having some extra cash on hand, especially when you’re embarking on a life lived by faith sure helps out. I was glad to take his ring for Mercedes and take the little one I bought back to the store and get some extra cash.
Those were a few cool miracles already, especially with these things not being the normal course of action for her dad’s behavior, but the miraculous continued.
We were looking into buying a wedding dress for the ceremony when Mercedes’ step-mom said she just happened to have a designer wedding dress on hand at the moment (not something she usually had on hand) and said if it fit Mercedes she could use if for the wedding—it fit like a glove and turned into a divinely supplied dress at just the right time for the wedding.
Once again, God intervened and we ended up having not only the wedding dress supplied, but the location as well, saving us even more dinero.
Prophecy – And a Couple of Howling Dogs
When the big day came, the wedding ceremony was being conducted by prophetic minister Larry Randolph who began to prophesy over us right in the middle of the ceremony, which was pretty bold in that atmosphere with all the different kinds of people there from unbelievers to full Pentecostals.
It got even more wild however, as right at the very moment when he was giving us these powerful prophecies some dogs in the next yard over began to howl, bark, and screech, at the top of their lungs—it seemed the dogs were giving confirmation to his prophetic words over us—if God can use a donkey he can use dogs too!! The Spirit of God suddenly fell in power over the whole place and everybody there began to laugh hysterically all while the glory poured down—hallelujah! Not a bad way to start things out!!
Onto the Process of the Two Becoming One
Any non-Hollywood celebrity type who has been married more than 72 days will tell you the ceremony isn’t the only thing, you know, that is just the beginning of the journey. God’s process just goes deeper into shaping Christ’s image into us as his children, but also fulfilling God’s original plan of making the two become one flesh.
The Protestant reformer Martin Luther said that there is no better school for character than marriage—the monastery was a walk in the park when compared to it.
Luther pointed out that hanging around all day in the monastery was just an endless parade of rituals that didn’t do much to take things all that deep in life with God, neither did it challenge or stretch your soul. The marriage relationship, on the other hand, confronts and holds your selfish human tendencies accountable.
Luther emphasized that marriage stretches us in ways that teach us to know and experience the love and grace of God in a continually deeper way.
UHS and UHK
Both of us were attending traditional Christian institutions of higher learning when we got married. I was at Fuller Seminary and Mercedes at Biola University.
However, there are more important schools he enrolled us in: The University of the Holy Spirit –UHS. This is where you learn to take up the cross and follow the Spirit’s leading as He has you step out into things that may even feel crazy at times, but then you see God’s hand as miracles happen!!!
The Lord has also taken us through the School of Character which can be called the University of Hard Knocks— UHK. This is where a few knocks hit you upside the head and you learn in those hard times that God is still working for your best even when you’re struggling. You learn to yield to the Lord’s work to bring forth fruits of the Spirit as well as gifts into your life.
Gifts were never meant to exist to the exclusion of fruits nor fruits only to the exclusion of gifts—both are needed and necessary for true maturity in Christ. Praise God for how Paul speaks about the unlimited patience that the Lord has for us and the sheer grace of God, which works in and through us to heal and transform. Marriage takes that process all that much deeper.
The trials of life can at times hit us in ways that highlight our human weakness, but also work to cause us to lean into the Lord, who through the Holy Spirit pours out that unlimited patience of the Almighty, which brings us into an even deeper well of His grace and love through it all.
We praise God that we see the Spirit of God working all the time to fulfill that plan that was announced from the very beginning of time: “ A man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24)
Check out our videos on:
"Holy Ghost Wedding Message": http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=7LK7ZPNX
"Towards a Healthy Marriage": http://youtu.be/REF_V4cuTws