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Growing Together in God's Love

Audra Smith Haney - 700 Club Producer

CBN.com -Chris and Yvonne Smith started dating early in high school. But, the two teenagers brought heavy baggage into the relationship. Chris was raised by an alcoholic.

“The funny thing is I didn't want to drink because I saw that, but I went to something else,” Chris said. “I started out smoking marijuana basically with some friends and then that progressed into cocaine. I used to sell marijuana for the same reason, to supply my own habit.”

Yvonne’s scars ran even deeper. At 4 years old, she was raped by an extended family member. A couple of years later, she was sexually abused by a neighborhood child.

“It feels like so much of that fun and that innocence was gone,” Yvonne said. “I know that had such a huge affect on my thoughts of myself and my stepping out into promiscuity.”

Six months after Chris and Yvonne started dating, she was pregnant. “I was shocked so to speak,” Chris said. “I didn’t know how to take it and my first instinct was abortion.”

“But as soon as I felt that baby move inside of me, this maternal instinct kicked in and I am still amazed that so young I could love this child so much,” Yvonne said.

After their daughter Kristen was born, the couple decided to marry. Yvonne was a wife and mother before the end of high school and Chris dropped out to pay bills. Shortly after marrying, Yvonne joined Chris in his drug habit.

“It kind of deadened any of those feelings of self-loathing that I had my whole life and it just spiraled,” Yvonne said. “Everything just spiraled downward. Every Friday we would pick up our runner and we’d take him to this area that was horrible, I mean horrible.  And my little girl was in the back seat.”

“We would divvy it up and do what we did,” Chris said. “To tell you the truth, I was probably too stoned to even comprehend the realization of what I was doing and putting her in that situation.

Two years into the marriage, their relationship was falling apart.

“I felt horrible,” Yvonne said. “I didn't want to talk to him I didn't want to trust my heart to him. And I’m like, “how do I get out of this?’ And it felt like it was a never-ending cycle. I felt like there is something so strong missing in me and I don't know what it is.”

One night while watching television, Yvonne found what she was looking for. “I’m woken up in the middle of the night, and it was 2:30 in the morning. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I'm flipping through the channels. This man's face comes up and he was so peaceful,” Yvonne said. “He looked like he had something that I'd never known.”

Yvonne watched the 700 Club three nights in a row. “And he just pointed out and said, ‘somebody out there right now, you need to know how much God loves you. You need to receive Jesus, ask Him to come into your heart and He will right now.’ I said that prayer and in my heart I knew everything was different.”

Yvonne started going to church and stopped using drugs. But, Chris wasn’t open to her new faith. “I didn't want any part of her change. We had some heated discussions about it and actually the word divorce and separation came up in those discussions. I was still blinded I guess as to how much freedom she had.”

“I just had an amazing peace,” Yvonne said. “I knew my Father loved me and I didn't need a drug, nothing could compare to the love that my Father had for me.”

Yvonne prayed for Chris for 6 years. “He was still very much in his lifestyle,” Yvonne said. “And at that word of faith church I would come in, it was always packed and I'd always save a seat next to me. I knew, I knew, I knew that my husband was going to be there someday.”

On Mother’s Day 1998, Yvonne wrote Chris a letter.

“She told me how she loved me, and how Jesus loved me and that she wasn't going to turn her back on me and God wasn't,” Chris said, “and I needed to read this prayer of salvation that she wrote in there and I did do that. Just knowing that if I was the only one, He would do those things for me. He would give up His life for just me. It’s like an eternity of love and peace and happiness in your spirit and soul.”

“I saw it all over his face,” Yvonne said. “He looked different. His countenance had changed. His face had changed. Tears just began to stream down and I said, ‘that 6 years was over and it was so worth it. It was so worth it.’”

The couple says Jesus Christ completely restored their marriage and through prayer healed their addictions. They recently renewed their vows on their 25th wedding anniversary and they have started their own ministry called “Vine Life.”

“It’s a love story,” Chris said. “Once we gave ourselves to Jesus, we just totally grew together in one love, in His love.”

“Don’t give up, don’t give up...ever....it is worth it,” Yvonne said. “It is more rewarding than anything, to have a marriage that is so good for you but it is so good for your children to see. If He will do it for me, He will do it for anyone.”

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