Susan: Raeul and I met in college. We dated and we did everything fast. We got married, and right out of college we had babies. Church was something that we did only on Sunday. And every Sunday, there were four of us that walked in, and sat in a pew, and listened, only to go home and put the Bible back on the nightstand and live our life the way we wanted to for the rest of the week. A lot of our time began being invested with our children.
And so we began to turn outward, and I began going to a gym in the afternoon after school. And one afternoon, I met someone, and led to multiple conversations, which led phone calls, which led to texting. And anything that I could do on the internet to have contact with this person, I did -- until I made the decision to have an affair.
One particular evening, the girls called me back into a room and had up on the computer my secret world – phone calls, messages, names, phone numbers, the whole bit. And I just stood in front of them and I said, I need to be the one to tell your dad. So as the story began to come out, the hurt and the pain that rushed in was unbelievable.
Raeul: When she told me, it shocked me. But she just gave me the Swiss cheese version of what happened. But after doing a little investigating that day and talking to a few people, I knew it was a lot more. We ended up going to counseling and ended up talking to a couple that counseled couples with marriage problems. And then they ended up pointing us to Watermark.
Susan: When we showed up the next Wednesday night, there was a couple that came to the front and began to share a story about their marriage. And the first thing I thought was, oh my gosh, they’re really talking what’s going on under that roof, and nobody does that. And I just remember squirming in the chair.
Then there was a part where I just found myself leaning forward on the edge of the seat. And as she began to share the brokenness in their marriage, and then how she quickly came back in with how God came and God healed and put a marriage back together, I just was hooked.
Raeul: I was coming to re|engage with the one that didn’t have the issue. It was Susan. And so I was really there about getting her fixed and not me.
Susan: So we come back the next week and we go to what’s called open group. I wasn’t ready to divulge any of the truth at that point, but just to have somebody give us a place where it was safe, where we could come and be with other people that were willing to work on their marriage as well was huge. And then once we got into a closed group, being in that circle with about four or five other couples that we spent some time with earlier, and then having a leader couple begin to show us Biblically what a marriage is supposed to look like.
Raeul: re|engage, for the first time, it was just the pivotal point for me in that the Bible just came alive. Whenever a couple would come in or we would come in and we’d have issues, there was always a Biblical principle there for us. There was always something for us that God had that we could hold on to.
Susan: As we really began to do that and just vertically align ourselves with Christ, then horizontally, the marriage began to heal.
Raeul: So we finished re|engage. We are in the best place that we’ve ever been in our marriage. The ministry team asked us to come to re|engage and help out. So we show up on Wednesday night, and then we found out that night that, hey, you guys are going to give your testimony.
We said yes, and it was scary, but we did it. And I remember thinking, this is it. I can’t come back here. And I had a secret – the infidelity didn’t start with Susan in 2008. It started with me in the year 2000. I called a friend up that I actually had journeyed through re|engage with. He said, Raeul, you can have a good marriage, but just know if you never tell Susan, you’ll never enjoy the love or the intimacy that God wants for you, that God wants for your marriage.
That night, I said I had to tell her. So it was late at night, and I told her. And I actually thought that it might go pretty well, but it didn’t go real well at all – ended up leaving the house last night. About 1:30 in the morning, I got a call from a different guy in our community group. And he said, Raeul, you need to come home. So I drove home.
Before re|engage, when Susan had told me what had happened with her and had confessed to me, we didn’t have anybody, really. But here was three couples in our house that loved us both and that were there at 1:30 in the morning. So Susan always says who shows up at 1:30 in the morning, it’s God’s people.
Susan: Oftentimes when we think about what re|engage really is, we think about the three components. And it’s God’s Word, God’s people, and God’s spirit. And so that night, we got to see that come to fruition, just to have people just coming in, and loving us, and just pointing us to His truth – and then to follow up with us the next day and the days that followed saying, hey, we’re willing to shepherd along beside you.
After Raeul’s piece come out and we realized, man, we have laid everything on the line. It’s true, the truth does set you free. And it just allowed God to begin to move and work in our lives in a way that we never thought possible.
Raeul: re|engage brought to us the urgent need for us to follow Christ. It has put our marriage in a place to where we understand when it talks about oneness in Genesis, what that means. And we’re not out for each other, we’re out for us together.