The Yad Hashmona congregation hosted a two-day conference, led by a pair of Messianic counselors, on singleness and relationships last weekend for its unmarried congregants.
“We felt that there was a need to hear balanced principles that would help young people build relationships founded on the Rock,” said Sheli Myers of Yad Hashmona, who hosted the conference.
Thirty two young people between the ages of 17 to 35 attended.
“I left this conference strengthened and more cognizant of relationships,” one attendee said after the conference.
“I think this seminar should be a requirement because it really builds up people our age,” said another participant. “This ministry should be available to all the Body of Messiah for anyone who is considering entering a relationship in the future.”
The conference was led by Sasha and Lilian Granovsky who have an MA in counseling from Israel College of the Bible and have trained with Larry and Laurie Russell’s ministry, Shepherd’s Heart. They are offering this workshop to the Body of Messiah in Israel.
“We have a new service to offer – a weekend program that was first presented to the singles of the Yad Hashmona congregation: What I can do and how, even before I’m in a relationship, how to build a relationship in a way that leaves no room for remorse no matter which direction the relationship goes,” Lilian said.
The conference included six lessons, each 45 minutes long, in which Sasha and Lilian Granovsky taught professional material based on scripture. At the end of each lesson there was time for questions and answers. Four topics were presented at the conference:
Topic 1: What is true love? 1 Corinthians 13
“Before we can love our partner, we need our relationship with God to be founded on the Rock,” Sasha taught. “After that – love for ourselves. How can we love others if we don’t know and love ourselves? How can we know who is right for us if we don’t know ourselves?”
Lilian: “Who are we? God’s unique creation.”
Sasha and Lilian presented the young people with 21 questions to get to know themselves better including: How is my relationship with each of my family members? What from my past has affected me destructively/constructively? What unhealthy habits do I have? Why? What situations cause me to be defensive? What are my passions? And more.
Topic 2: Dating and evaluating the relationship
Sasha and Lilian asked each of the young people to think about their relationships and ask themselves, “Is the relationship constructive? Does this relationship bring us closer to the Lord? Is the relationship useful?” As is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
In addition, they discussed whether love at first sight is truly possible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” John 3:16. The meaning of true love was explained to the young people: love as not just an emotion but as an act. God Himself first loved and then He gave. Divine love is loving and giving without expecting reciprocation. Love is a daily choice, commitment and controlling of one’s actions.
“We should not let emotions guide us – we must guide our emotions,” Lilian said.
Other topics discussed included: How do I know whether I’m in a destructive relationship? How do I know whether I have difficulty committing? Why do I repeatedly find myself in unhealthy relationships? Is it okay for a woman to initiate a relationship? How do I cope with insecurity in a relationship? Is it okay to date someone I’m not planning to marry? How do I deal with the pain of separation?
Topic 3: How can we guard ourselves physically?
Sasha and Lilian spoke about restraint and self-control as a critical principle before marriage. They spoke frankly about the dangers of not observing appropriate physical boundaries.
“Sometimes jumping into a physical relationship is compensation for something we haven’t been able to attain emotionally,” Lilian explained.
Topic 4: Lifestyles
Sasha and Lilian challenged the young people to think about how they imagine their lives in the future and what they expect of marriage. They presented various lifestyle options so that participants would be able to identify with whom they could live and with whom they couldn’t.
Many of the participants said they were encouraged, learned a lot and would want to pursue deeper study of this topic.
“This seminar opened my mind to a lot of things I had not previously thought about regarding relationships,” one participant said.
Several of the attendees also recommended that every young person in the Body of Messiah attend such a workshop so they can get to know themselves better before entering a relationship.
“From a content perspective, this seminar was amazing,” another participant said. “It brought up a lot of questions that are good to know the answers to before you enter a relationship.”