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Affair Nearly Destroys Marriage and Ministry

“It’s not always bad things that destroy a marriage,” says Starla. “Sometimes it’s good things in the wrong priority. And our priorities were all confused-all mixed up. “

Kendall and Starla met and married while they were both attending Southwestern Assemblies of God University. despite their attraction, conflicts began to arise almost immediately.

Kendall remembers, “After the honeymoon phase passed, we recognized we were complete opposites in nearly every single way. I tried to change her; she tried to change me, and all it did was create more conflict.”

“The fact that we were immature but we thought we knew everything made it really difficult in our marriage because we were both very stubborn,” Starla adds. “And we were just destroying each other and destroying our marriage.”

The couple started their family while still in college. after graduation, they dove right into ministry and founded a church together. the congregation grew quickly—but so did the stress on their marriage. “As the ministry grew and the numbers grew, it was successful,” Starla says. “And so, my husband, during all that time, I could see the change happening. I could see how success was starting to control him.”

“We can get so focused on doing a good thing, and somehow or another that justifies any of the problems that you may be having,” Kendall says. “And I thought ‘How could this be a bad thing, you know? We’re building a church, we’re reaching people, we’re helping families get back together. But we weren’t doing it together. And that’s a recipe for a disaster in a marriage.”

As the years passed, the couple grew more and more distant. “I would mention to my husband, ‘Can we just get somebody else involved? Can we see a counselor? Is that possible at all?’ Starla says. “And every time it was no. We were pastoring a church, and we’re supposed to know how to get through these, you know, problems.”

“I became a very arrogant, prideful, selfish, stupid person, and started thinking that I was the one that was making this happen, rather than recognizing I was just simply a tool in God’s hand,” Kendall says. “And I fell head first into that trap.”

Then, Kendall began counseling a woman at their church. “I could tell that something was wrong. I just had that discernment, that feeling, that check in my spirit that something’s not right,” ßtarla says.

Kendall says, “As I started separating more and more from my wife, just emotionally, it became easier to find praise and affirmation from someone else. I kept thinking, you know, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong yet.’ And so, it’s always easier to take just one more step.”

Eventually, the relationship turned into an affair.

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, it’ll keep you longer than you want to stay and it’ll cost you more than you want to pay,” Kendall says. “I found that out to be true more than I realized.”

After the two were spotted together, Kendall knew he had to confess. “That’s when I called my wife and I told her what I had done. I admitted that I’d been unfaithful. I failed my family, I failed my wife.”

“I was furious. But I was also at peace because finally, I wasn’t crazy and my discernment was correct,” Starla recalls.

“At that moment, I was so overcome with a spirit of suicide that I really, honestly thought that the best thing for my wife, the best thing for my kids, is for me just to kill myself and for them not to have to deal with facing the shame of my sin,” Kendall says.

“I even had trouble, you know, just praying because I felt like God had turned His back on me,” Starla says. “Because I prayed for so many years for this not to happen and it did.”

The affair caused the them to lose their church and their ministry. They stayed together, but the pain remained. And although Kendall repented and got counseling, Starla’s heart was hard.

“I realized how badly I had hurt her. I realized how badly I’d hurt our children,” Kendall says. “And I made a commitment to her that I was going to do whatever it took to try to win her heart back. “

“My husband was doing everything right,” Starla says. “He was a completely different man. He was good. He was kind. He was loving. He put me first. But my anger was growing. Everything that I had grown to hate in my husband, the arrogance, the pride, the anger, it was all inside of me now.”

One day Starla was reading the Bible story where Jesus is with the Pharisees when a woman is caught in adultery. “I heard that story my entire life,” she says. “When he said to them, ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone.’ You know, ‘Go ahead, if you want to do it. Any of you can do it if you don’t have sin in your life, go ahead.’ But this time when I was reading that story, everything was different. I was that religious ruler, that Pharisee, that jerk, that just wanted to stone my husband. And I just felt this powerful feeling come over me. And I just cried out for God to change me and to help me forgive my husband and to drop the rocks. It was really the pivotal point in my life and in our marriage because I was able to forgive my husband.”

It took several more years, but God saved their marriage. “It was the hardest thing that we’ve ever done. But when I was able to forgive and our marriage was restored, it became more beautiful than I ever thought a marriage could even be. Because we were loving God’s way, not our way.”

They also returned to ministry and founded the freedom church in Carrolton, Texas.

“Our marriage is better now than it’s ever been, primarily because our priorities are right,” Kendall says. “God is number one; our marriage is second; our kids are next. The church comes after that. And God’s blessing this work more than he did the other, and I’m just sitting back blown away at what God is doing through us.”

The couple has co-authored the book, “Better Marriage” to help other couples avoid the pitfalls they stumbled into. Kendall says, “We’re very open about our failures. We recognize that our scars disqualify us from some people. But they uniquely qualify us for others. And those are the people that I believe God has assigned for us to minister to.”

“I know that we would have never experienced the marriage, the love, the happiness, the joy, that we have today if we hadn't gone through this purifying time,” says Starla.

“We’re testimonies of the fact in Genesis 50:20, that what the enemy meant for harm, God can turn it around for good, Kendall adds. “And we just surrendered our will to His, and He was able to take it and make something beautiful out of it.”

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