I think it is safe to say that most people prefer stories that end on a happy note. Stories where the good guys win and the bad guys lose—happily-ever-after, storybook endings. Sometimes though, the details leading up to the endings many love are, well, unhappy. The Porterfield's story is one of those that will leave you scratching your head until you realize that no one is beyond God's reach, and that He is the greatest author of storybook endings.
What happens when the story's main characters, Rick (a selfishly driven, politically-minded, corporate ladder-climbing, alcoholic, atheist) and Rebekah (a church-raised, wounded, single mother of two) have their paths cross? The obvious answer is...marriage, of course. Yes, after living together for a while, Rick and Rebekah were united in marriage, and not for the cliché, romantic reasons some yield to, but for more practical reasons like paying less taxes. As unfortunate as this description sounds, it is true, and once Rick and Rebekah were married, things really became ugly.
Things were so rough for the Porterfields at one point, that Rebekah was convinced that Rick had tried to poison her. As circumstances continued to get worse, she eventually began to suspect that Rick was the "Anti-Christ"—literally. Distraught and looking for a way to separate herself from the reality of her life, Rebekah briefly turned to using drugs.
After years of struggling, the two sought counseling. Rick said, "We chose the most highly recommended counselor where we lived, a PhD psychologist. She told us that in her 15 years of counseling, we were the only hopeless couple she had ever seen. She advised us to get a divorce."
Rebekah also met with the counselor once on her own, and the counselor told her that Rick had the personality type of a serial killer. She went on to tell Rebekah that Rick could turn on her at any moment and could be capable of anything. She instructed Rebekah to take the kids and what she could get in the car and leave. Of course this confirmed Rebekah's suspicions, but for some reason, she didn't leave.
Although they had agreed to file for a divorce, the Porterfields were trapped by their financial situation; neither could afford a divorce attorney, nor sustain life on their own. With nothing left and nowhere else to run, Rebekah turned back to God.
Rebekah found peace in her new church surroundings and Rick continued in his unfeeling ways. That is until he needed Rebekah for an office party. Rick needed her to be there for the sake of appearance, to avoid coworkers asking prying questions—it just would not have looked good for Rick, if she wasn't there. Rebekah agreed to attend the party with one catch; Rick would have to agree to attend church with her. Both agreed.
Rick's attendance at church changed his life. What he encountered was pure love—something he had never witnessed before. The love he felt was so tangible that he could no longer deny God's existence. Rick said, "Atheism can't stand up to love. Once you know that God is real, your options become very limited. You only have two; you can accept Him or you can reject Him. Only a fool rejects God when they know He is real." A few days later, Rick was born again and a miracle happened; he no longer had the desire for alcohol. Rick has been sober since. This was the turning point for the Porterfield's marriage.
Much has changed for the Porterfields over the past 23 years. As they walked out their marriage restoration, the Lord rebuilt their foundation from the ground up. "God's word put our marriage back together. Where the best man had to offer (the top counselor in the area) could not help, God's word had answers that worked. The Word was enough to radically change their lives. How radically? Rick and Rebakah have been involved with marriage ministry since 1994, and the two founded Faith Family Church in 2008.
Rick came across Andrew's teaching in 2008 and he credits Andrew with bringing greater balance and insight to the word, and to grace, that he didn't have before. Although Rick was greatly impacted by Andrew's teaching from the outset, it did take Rebekah some time to give Andrew a chance. Initially, Andrew's style and tone reminded her of her religious upbringing, and she wanted nothing to do with him. However, after agreeing to attend Andrew's 2012 Gospel Truth Seminar in Atlanta, Rebekah was hooked by Andrew's message, The Balance of Grace & Faith.
(Spoiler alert) Here's the happily-ever-after ending... Over the years the Porterfield's ministry has grown and opportunities to share the almost-too-good-to-be-true-news have increased. Today the Porterfields use their experience and the word to help people from all walks of life. Some couples fly in on private jets, some come in virtually penniless, and the results are the same—marriages are restored because the word works. And, the Porterfields have recently become part of Andrew's Association of Related Ministries International (ARMI).
Rick shared, "There are still challenges, like Andrew says, 'The devil didn't just roll over and play dead,' but we are doing the word and overcoming. Our marriage continues to be strong, and we continue to see the relationships of others saved. We see people being healed of big and small things (from ingrown toenails to heart disease and stage four cancer). I know God has a lot more for us, and we are eager to walk into it and receive it."
The Porterfields love teaching people what God has taught them as far as marriage is concerned, and they have published a book on the subject as well, Marriage By The Book. "We have seen couples go from getting a divorce to being fully committed to each other and serving in the ministry," said Rick.