- Category: SGS in the News
- Created on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 15:51
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 21:50
- Written by Peter and Robin Riemersma
- Hits: 3181
"Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven...Amen".
Being rather new to computers, a few years ago I was taught the basics and began searching the information highway - previously unchartered waters. I approached the World Wide Web with nervous excitement. Having been warned of the dangers of the internet, (which I still watch and pray about every day), I investigated various search engines.
Click! Through cyberspace navigating I came across various ads for "Christian" dating or "meet and greet" websites. I paid a fee and began to browse many profiles with a particular "Christian" service. Over time I discovered a number of familiar faces. Sadly many of them were sisters and brothers in the Lord who had the same foundation as I had - and yet some (not all) were willing to compromise in their search for a mate by corresponding with unbelievers. Many as well had subscribed to other sites searching for that elusive spouse. I came to realize that these websites, though "Christian" in name, were not necessarily so in content and purpose. Not that it is "wrong" to correspond with unbelievers, but the Bible clearly states that we should not be "unequally yoked" (2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1). As a result I had a lot of online correspondence with those I knew on the site warning them to be discerning (test the spirits) and not trust every site or person who claimed to be "Christian".
During my time on the site I met a dear sister in the Lord. Over time our correspondence and encouragement continued until one day she informed me that the Lord had led her to someone else, another brother in the Lord that she had begun to court. Later I received a wedding invitation from her. This was to be a Reformed wedding, a relationship built on the promises of God's infallible word. We still remain friends and she credits me for being used by the Lord to introduce her to the riches of the Reformed faith. And how rich they are!
In the mean time the Lord had begun to stir a brother in the Lord to create not only a truly Christian online singles website, but a Reformed Christian online website called Sovereign Grace Singles (SGS). Gradually, many friends who had been on the other sites switched to this Reformed website as well. I decided to try it out, and I'm very thankful to the person who led me to it.
After a "failed" second online relationship, I became disillusioned with cyberspace and with "Christian" websites. Yet as I've said various times throughout my life, "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven". And, perhaps for the first time, I took this prayer more seriously. Recalling someone's advice to surrender all of my desires to the Lord and his will, my approach changed. I decided to contact another sister on SGS. I didn't know at the time, but the Lord had also placed on her heart the same approach and attitude: wait on the Lord and let "His will be done." The decision was to give "cyberspace relationships" one more try. After sending a message I waited for a response. My expectations were low, meanwhile praying, "Your will be done". Two days later I received a reply.
Our correspondence became more frequent and in the Lord's sovereign grace and providence, we became a married couple, united as one in Christ. "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
Sovereign Grace Singles has served as a bridge for up to 67 couples at last count in the Reformed community, not to mention the many friendships that have been made and solidified. Does this mean that Reformed Christians cannot use other "Christian" or singles websites? If you do, be aware of the dangers. Some are willing to compromise and have either left the Reformed faith, or have been misled by those with whom they have taken up contact.
Some tips for those interested in internet relationships are as follows:
- Never presume anything, and when in doubt, ASK!
- Get to know his/her Pastor, Elders, Deacons.
- If possible see them in their natural environment and community.
- Ask for a character reference or referral.
- Take time to get to know your suitor's family, closest friends, congregation.
- When appropriate ask about how they handle their finances.
- Most of all, ask yourself serious questions. If it is a long distance relationship, am I prepared for long intervals apart? Am I prepared to be faithful, both mentally and physically?
My dear wife Robin would also like to make a few comments about her online experience, and long distance relationship.
I was initially skeptical about the whole online thing - until I saw that SGS was a smaller, more close knit and "safer" community and would be good to try even to just make friends. Then, Peter from Canada (it seemed so far at the time) wrote and I wondered what to do. I prayed about it, and thought to myself (with nudges from the Holy Spirit, I'm sure) is anything impossible for God? Maybe he wants me to go through this type of courting, rather than the type I had always imagined. I thought someone would just be "sent" my way and we could spend time in groups and get to know one another over a long period. Yet the Lord had something different in store!
Something about Peter was different. I wasn't afraid, although I was very cautious at first. We both enjoyed our correspondence together. With the proper prayer and caution, I don't think distance should prevent a relationship. But it is difficult, at the same time. Being apart between visits was hard, yet it forced us to really get to know one another through talking and not just going to movies together, or getting too physically involved (in fact Peter and I chose not to even kiss until our wedding day). We prayed regularly for one another, and trusted God to work out the immigration details as well. It was a lot to handle, but I wouldn't trade the whole experience, or having Peter as my husband now, for the world. I see how God led us through everything step by step. "Step by step" - I guess that's the key. Try not to feel rushed - and if a gentleman is rushing you, slow down and see if he'll wait or cool it a bit. That's what I did with Peter for a time, too. We both knew it was right when we felt the same after the "test."
So...are YOU considering looking for a mate online? First of all, make sure you have a right relation with God. Spend time praying and in the Word. Be involved in your local church. Do the work the Lord has given you for employment with all your heart. And pray. Wait on him and ask for healthy relationships. One of them - whether online or in the more traditional way - may just turn out to be a lifelong love, blessed by God and truly joyful.
A few books we'd recommend:
- I Isaac, take you Rebecca by Ravi Zacharias
- Passion and Purity: Learning to bring your life under Christ's control by Elisabeth Elliot.
- I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
- When God writes your Love Story by Leslie and Eric Ludy
- Category: SGS in the News
- Created on Monday, 03 August 2009 21:52
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 21:50
- Hits: 28931
Sovereign Grace Singles is featured in the second cover article in the August 2009 issue of Christianity Today, titled Restless, Reformed, and Single, which you can read here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/august/17.28.html. Online editor Sarah Pulliam writes,
By day, firefighter Dean Scott puts out flames in rural western Washington. By night, he tries to kindle them between Reformed singles around the country.
Scores of Christian dating websites (and dating sites that market themselves to Christians) are doing their part to solve the delayed marriage problem by promising to pair like-minded couples. But Scott's SovereignGraceSingles.com hopes to take compatibility tests to a new level, making sure that singles are on the same page theologically.
Singles who build profiles on SovereignGraceSingles answer questions such as, " How have the Doctrines of Grace changed or affected your life?" "Do you have a Quiet Time?" and "Who is your favorite biblical character and why?" Members' usernames include tulips, restingingrace0611, and ReformedSoutherner.
Baylor University professor of theology Roger Olson, author of Arminian Theology, is a bit surprised that the site, which hosts nearly 800 members and has borne 37 reported marriages, is catching on.
"It's an example of a larger dissonance between Calvinist theology and Calvinist practice,"Olson said. "If God has foreordained everything, then why should I feel any urgency to act?"
Scott said he has heard few theological objections to the site since it launched in 2005.
"It doesn't sound very Calvinist, but I think we should use all means possible, including the Internet, to find someone,"said Scott, who met his wife, Karen, on the site he built. I don't think it's antithetical to God's sovereignty at all. It's a means that he's provided to use in the lives of single, Reformed folks."
Paul David Tripp, author of Marriage: Whose Dream?, says Christians of various theological stripes have trouble deciding whether to use an online site to find a mate.
"There will always be questions of the degree to which you should be active and the degree to which you should wait around,"says Tripp, who preaches at Philadelphia's renowned Tenth Presbyterian Church. "There's something problematic about saying, 'I'm going to get married and I'm going to use whatever tool out there.' There's no promise in Scripture that a single man or woman will get married."
At Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, pastor Isaac Hydoski worries that singles are using online dating sites because they are discouraged.
"Many times, it can be an expression of a last-ditch attempt to take the bull by the horns," he said. "It can be done in a way that's submitted to God's will, or it can be done as an expression of self-sufficiency."
But Hydoski sees online dating, if rooted in pure motives, as just another way for singles to find each other, no different from couples who meet at a church singles' group or a gas station.
"It's not any less significant, less romantic, or more disconnected from God's sovereignty in terms of how you met," Hydoski says. "That's a mistake of Christians over-romanticizing decisions like this."
Lisa Anderson, who hosts The Boundless Show, Focus on the Family's podcast for single young adults, tried online dating and found it a mixed bag. Single and 37, Anderson prefers to seek potential partners in a physical community rather than a virtual one.
I had friends who found guys who would lay out the Westminster Confession and make you sign it before they talked to you. That spells freak with a capital F," she said. "But on eHarmony, I get matched with guys who aren't believers. When you can go online and sift through profiles like paint samples, it breeds a consumerist mentality."
Anderson believes Christians should think about God's will in dating as they do in other spheres of life.
"You have to apply for a home. You have to look for a career," she said. "The Bible says, 'He who finds a wife, finds a good thing,'not, 'He who sits around and plays Xbox goes to a singles' group where God shines a spotlight on the right woman.' We should be availing ourselves of our community and the power of family and friends."
ChristianCafe.com, another online dating site, has seen 1.5 million members since its launch in 1999. ChristianCafe.com president Sam Moorcroft says, "The pagans are out having a good time meeting someone, while the rest of us are sitting in our closets thinking it's unbiblical. Let's not let the world have all the good dating sites."
Sarah Pulliam is online editor for Christianity Today.
Copyright © 2009 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
- Category: SGS in the News
- Created on Saturday, 01 August 2009 12:03
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 21:50
- Written by John Van Dyke
- Hits: 26602
Full title: An Internet Connection for Reformed Singles: The intersection of technology and relationships for singles
[Reprinted with permission from the May 2006 issue of Christian Renewal]
A TV show aired during the '70s called The Dating Game. It attempted to match an eligible young man or woman with a person of the opposite sex. Contestants would ask questions of three people hidden behind a curtain whose answers would lead to a decision by the asker to choose which of the three would likely make for the most appealing date. How many of those dating couples went on to a relationship that led to marriage is unknown. But the dating game continues for each new generation searching for spouses - life partners.
Contrary to today's secular milieu, dating, of course, is not a game. Some eschew "dating" completely, arguing that "courtship" is the biblical model for two people interested in a permanent relationship. In this era of the internet, finding a potential spouse has taken yet another interesting twist. On-line meeting rooms for singles looking for a relationship have flourished. It's the ultimate in barrier removal for those who have not been led to a successful relationship via conventional means.
The problem of match-making is not confined to the secular world, of course. Finding a mate can be just as easy or as difficult within the context of the church. In the movie, The Hiding Place about the life of Corrie Ten Boom during World War II, Corrie's father says at one point during a discussion with his unmarried daughters, "There is a lid for every pot." What he meant was that there is a potential partner for each one of us. Yet it is also true, according to the Bible, that not everyone is given the gift of marriage. There is also something called the gift of singleness, and that, too, can be a blessing of the Lord. But for those who do not necessarily choose to be so blessed, the development of a recent web site may provide the means to the desired end.
SovereignGraceSingles is the name of a site that provides a platform and a meeting ground for Reformed singles to discover each other, but on neutral ground and in a safe environment. The brainchild of a Presbyterian (PCA) Christian by the name of Dean Scott, the web site was launched in 2005 and has been the spark behind at least four marriages thus far and numerous new friendships. Scott, 48, lives in Tacoma, Washington. He explained to Christian Renewal that the idea came to him while on a fishing trip.
I was flyfishing on the Yakima River in Washington State, the members of my Flyfishing Club. They are nice guys but not Christians. The language, smoking, alcohol to excess and the general nature of conversations caused my mind to wander and imagine how much more it would be to go flyfishing with other Reformed Believers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ who could look at the incredible beauty of a Brown Trout and say, 'I know the Creator of this Work of Divine Art!.... My Lord, Jesus Christ!'
This spawned an idea.
I wondered how I could find such sweet fellowship and with other Reformed singles specifically. The Internet immediately came to mind and I said to myself, 'Why don't you do it?' Create a website where single persons of like mind can get together for fellowship, service or perhaps even romance!
Scott describes how the site began. "Sovereign Grace Singles was 'launched' on January 19th, 2005. The first 300 members were 'Free for Life' and that goal was met in four months and 19 days." Since then the growth has been slow and steady. "I would much rather have quality than quantity," he says and he believes that that is what his site is attracting. "The quality of the Members of SGS is really heartwarming. I am greatly encouraged in my own Christian walk when I read their Profiles."
Scott describes on-the-site functions for users.
When one goes to the website, they can peruse 'Profiles' without being a Member. If they should desire to join and create a Profile, they are taken to a Doctrinal Statement which defines 'Evangelical', 'Reformed' and 'Church.' They are told NOT to join unless they can agree with the Doctrinal Statement and, by joining, they are stating that they agree with it. There are a few questions about their gender, age, location, marital status, denomination, and a few questions of a more personal nature.
It is in the Essay Questions section where they have much more opportunity to tell others about themselves. These vary from questions about their 'Quiet Time' to 'Hobbies' or their 'sense of humor' to what they do for a living.
The questions are very useful to help Members reveal things about themselves which others might like to know. Actually, I found the process personally enjoyable myself. The work involved in completing the Essay Questions really helps the individual learn about themselves and for what they are looking. "Lastly, Members are given the opportunity to upload pictures of themselves."
The internet's global reach allows singles to cast the net widely well beyond familiar borders. Participants come primarily from North America, but there are also many names with international locations such as the Dominican Republic, England, South Africa and Germany, to name a few. Such a far reach, of course, comes with a willingness to change one's life drastically should there be a connection between two distant members. Of the four internet connections that have led to marriage thus far, one was between a man from Germany who married a woman living in Florida who was from India. Scott was invited to and did attend their wedding, and also, a few days later, attended a seconding wedding from a couple who had their start via SGS and were married near Vancouver, Washington.
Getting singles together, Dean Scott explains, is not just about marriage. "Matching' also happens when those of kindred spirit get together for fellowship and service. Many of these events happen spontaneously and are organized by the members themselves," Scott said. "Some, such as the Winter Retreat we had in British Columbia in January and the 'Clamming Outing' at Ocean Shores, Washington, USA, are planned and organized. There was an Alaska Cruise last September which departed from Vancouver, BC, Canada and one planned to the Caribbean which departs from Tampa, FL, USA next November and is on Holland America Cruise Lines."
Service projects are another component of SGS. "Those who have time and a passion to serve are given the opportunity to do so," Dean Scott explains. "One such opportunity will be in May, 2006 when SGS members will gather in Slidell, Louisiana, to assist a Reformed Church there continue cleanup from Hurricane Katrina. The fellowship will be wonderful."
On any internet endeavour, the matter of security is always a concern. And more particularly when it comes to relationships and matters of the heart. Personal information can be abused by those with wrongful intentions. Dean Scott is well aware of the risks and walls have been established to protect the members.
It is cost prohibitive to screen backgrounds of every member. On SGS, when a woman joins I send her a 'Letter to the Ladies of SGS" to direct them to abide by Matthew 18 if they are having any problems of a salacious nature and then, if that does not remedy the situation, to let me know about it and I will handle it post-haste. I do NOT tolerate such behavior for a nano-second.
Also, there is a sense of community at SGS and women get to know other women too, as well as men get to know other men. Understandably, if someone is having a problem, it will eventually be known to others. There is mutual accountability.
Asked about the economics of the service, Scott said he is presently operating with a deficit. Members (after the first 300 who were free) pay a fee of $89.95 for one year. There are also six, three or one month memberships for a declining fee. Various forms of advertising and perhaps the most effective "word of mouth" continue to result in growth.
For Dean Scott the main goal is to see Reformed Christians walking together in mutual agreement, based on the words of Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" This is the theme verse of SGS. "The implications of Reformed doctrine pervade all of life. This is especially true in romantic relationships," he says.
Forming relationships was the reason Dean Scott, a firefighter/paramedic, began the internet service. And recently, in the providence of God, he also made an internet connection with a Reformed woman that may yet lead to marriage.
Asked by Christian Renewal how this site has had an impact on him personally, Karen, a member of SGS offered to answer this one for him.
Dean and I became friends first while meeting with other singles from SGS for various social activities. In time our friendship grew to the point that we both realized we wanted to make a serious commitment to one another through courtship. So, I guess you can see how this has made an impact on Dean's life! Dean has a HUGE heart, a sense of adventure and tons of enthusiasm, and it is reflected in the flavor of the website.
If marriage should result, does this mean "mission accomplished?" "Karen and I have already spoken about this," Scott explained. "We'd like to continue (SGS) together. We'd join the 'Met on SGS' category. We have no intentions whatsoever to change that ever. It is a joy to do it together."
The SGS web site is also a resource to single Christians offering other material and services to this often neglected group in our churches. "There is an online bookstore, chat, blogs, forums, sermons, reformed links, and events," Scott says.
As for customer satisfaction, so far the response has been enthusiastically positive. One member who recently ended his relationship with SGS sent the following note:
Canceling with THANKSGIVING- Dean, I wanted to thank you for such a great site... I trust the Lord will continue to bless SGS in mighty ways. I just returned from a trip to Florida to meet face to face a lovely lady I met on SGS and have been talking with for two months almost every night for hours on end. God in his wonderful providence used SGS to introduce us and then allowed His Holy Spirit to minister to both of us through the other. Thank you again for your wonderful site and please remove my subscription with my deepest gratitude. Warmest regards, Charles.