On a Monday night a few days before Valentine’s Day the English club met as usual. I sat at a table with several students from East Asia trying to make sense of the Valentine’s quiz. Can you match these well known couples? Posh & Becks were reasonably easy, as were Beyoncé & JayZ but Tim Burton & Helena Bonham Carter proved to be less well known. When I explained that Helena BC played Bellatrix in the Harry Potter movies the Japanese girl’s eyes lit in recognition. Then there was a fill in the blanks exercise: All you need is [______] (Beatles) or My love is like a red, red [______] (Robert Burns) to name two of the easy ones, but a couple of Biblical quotations around the theme of God’s love were slipped in too. Even the British hosts found some of the questions challenging – did you know that a love apple is actually an alternative name for a tomato? No I didn’t either.
The quiz was just the warm up act, however. Interviews with a newly married couple and an ‘experienced’ married couple (me and him in other words) were to follow. We asked them four questions: How did you meet? What attracted you to each other? How did you decide you were right for each other? Why marriage, when so many don’t bother? They asked us just two: You’ve been married 30 years, what were the early challenges? What has kept you going?
Our audience was about 20 international students from almost as many nations. They were mostly in their early 20s and single. You could have heard a pin drop as the four of us were able to talk matter-of-factly about the effect living for Jesus makes on the most intimate of relationships. It’s not that we talked directly about Him very much, but some of the differences were noticeable. In the open question time a French girl asked the newlyweds ‘Did you live together before you were married?’ The bride explained that, unlike her housemates, who all slept with their boyfriends, she had waited until the wedding. In a very natural way she explained how she noticed that, judging by all girly talk in her household, she was the one who was most emotionally secure about her relationship with her fiancé. Being a Christian is good news for relationships.
If you work with international students, have you thought of doing something similar for Valentine’s Day?