Faith-based group in Woodlands helps couples heal from divorce
When Vicki Nasr realized how high the divorce rate was in the U.S., she saw a great need for healing in her own community.
She explained that 50 percent of people end their first marriage and rate goes up to 67 percent for second marriages and 73 percent for third marriages.
“That’s a lot of hurting people,” Nasr said. “For a lot of people, separation and divorce are probably the most painful and stressful experience they’ve ever faced.”
That’s why she and her husband Ghazi Nasr, residents of Magnolia, decided to step up and help. They were both divorced before they met and found comfort in a program in Houston. Now they’ve been married for 25 years.
The Nasrs both wanted to assist others who were struggling through a divorce — and discovered a ministry called DivorceCare. They asked their church Faith Bible, 5505 Research Forest Dr, in The Woodlands, to support their effort to start the program there.
The Nasrs began offering the faith-based program at the church in January 2017 and already have competed nine 13-week programs. More than 250 people have attended — and some return for multiple sessions.
The next session begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 and continues through Dec. 12. The sessions usually last about two hours, and participants must register online. Childcare is provided on site.
Vicki explained that she and her husband are not experts, counselors or therapists.
“Our role is to provide a safe, comfortable place to share and heal,” she said. “We point people to resources. My husband and I are facilitators, and we want to give people hope.”
Each session in DivorceCare begins with a video seminar, which features experts on a range of topics, including depression, loneliness and what to expect during a separation.
Then, participants break into small groups to discuss the video. They also share their own experiences from the past week.
“This is a Bible-based, Christ-centered support group, but it’s also nondenominational,” Nasr said. “Everyone is invited. We’re not trying to bring anyone to church. This is just meant to help people heal.”
DivorceCare also guides individuals through journaling and personal study exercises, focusing on the weekly discussion topics.
Confidentiality is key, Nasr added. Participants come from all walks of life and a range of ages.
The first session, Nasr notices that participants usually sit two or three seats apart. “There’s a hush in the room,” she said.
With time, she has to ask them to be quiet, she said with a laugh.
“A really strong sense of community develops,” Nasr said. “They have dinner together. They have parties and picnics. They help with each other’s kids. They go to court with each other so they don’t have to go alone. It’s a real community.”
Rachel Hilborn, a resident of The Woodlands, joined Faith Bible Church right around the time that DivorceCare launched. Still, she was reluctant to attend.
“I just wasn’t ready,” she said. “Then I realized all of my fears were about being labeled. Instead, this was an opportunity to have other people walk through this hard season with me and connect with them.”
Hilborn explained that the DivorceCare sessions are not what a lot of people expect. “You’re not going there to air your grievances, and it’s not a bash-fest,” she said. “It isn’t negative at all. People come, because they care about giving, healing and helping their kids through this.”
She added that she has made a number of close friends in the group.
A couple of marriages have been saved through the DivorceCare sessions, and other people have moved pass separation and found love again.
“Most importantly, I’ve witnessed people grow into caring, confident and independent individuals,” Nasr said.
DivorceCare now serves churches all over the world, she said. In addition, other programs are available through the same ministry — DivorceCare for Kids, GriefShare, Single and Parenting and Surviving the Holidays
“People can go online, enter their zip codes and find all area churches providing DivorceCare,” Nasr said. “You can go wherever is closest to you. I don’t know of any ministry that’s better than this. You don’t have to come to ours, but just know that there’s something out there.”
Wherever individuals are located, the key is realizing they are not alone, she added.
“It’s an opportunity you’ve been given, against your will most of the time, to restart your life, to fix the things that need fixing and to do all of the things you’ve always dreamed,” Nasr said. “We want to give people hope — and the ability to dream again. There’s life after divorce.”
To learn more and to register, visit www.faithbibleonline.org/divorce-care/