Marriage. Alcoholism. Relationship breakdown. Where is God in the midst of these things? On this episode of The Story, Jimmy Colefax talks to Jeff and Virginia Ball about their journey through many years of hardship. But God would eventually bring much needed healing through a Christian counsellor, who they credit with saving their relationship.
After what Jeff describes as 20 turbulent years together, Virginia was a Christian but Jeff was most definitely not. Their marriage was in tatters, and Virginia asked if he would be prepared to see a Christian counsellor with her. Jeff agreed, and the Lord then used the process of counselling to not only save their marriage, but also to set Jeff on the path to salvation.
Virginia was born in Sydney to a Christian mother, but her father unfortunately wasn’t. It was quite a dysfunctional family. But the one thing that always stayed with her from her days at Sunday school was that Jesus was the son of God.
Jesus Loves Us
Jeff was born and raised in Melbourne, in a non-Christian home. At 16, he left school and joined the air force as an apprentice. After a move to Sydney, he met Virginia at a ballroom dancing class.
After 13 years of a tough marriage, Virginia says she was very unhappy. She had received a brochure in the letter box about a Christmas service at the local church. She rang and spoke with the Pastor, and all she could remember him saying was that Jesus loved her. ‘Those words have stuck with me right up until this day,’ says Virginia. ‘It was through him and that church that I came to the Lord.’
Jeff believes there were a lot of reasons for the difficulties that he and Virginia faced in their marriage. They were both very controlling and dominating. They also both had serious drinking problems that led to one conflict after another. ‘It didn’t bode well for our marriage,’ says Jeff. ‘But interestingly, even though we separated three times, there was obviously an underlying love there that kept us together. I believe that God always makes the best of a bad situation and He certainly did so in this.’
Even though Jeff appreciated the change in Virginia when she became a Christian, he wasn’t remotely interested himself. He admits to being continually aggressive, and it just led to more conflict between them. Until Virginia suggested Christian counselling as a last resort.
The Benefits of Christian Counselling
‘I guess you would classify me as an agnostic back then,’ says Jeff. ‘But I was thinking to myself, when you see the extraordinary nature of the universe, there’s got to be something beyond that. But I certainly didn’t believe anything as far as the Christian faith was concerned.’
During the process of counselling, Jeff was asked to read a book by Francis Schaffer that impacted him greatly. The book spoke of the God of the Bible who was the creator of all things. That was a major step for Jeff. Virginia says that he was then invited to the Alpha program. ‘He saw the witness of the people in that group, and I really think that changed his mind.’
Alpha answered so many of Jeff’s questions. ‘Before I could have a spiritual conversion, I needed to satisfy some of the intellectual things,’ he says. ‘Something that really touched me was that one of the guys who led the extended session of Alpha was actually a gay Christian. I could just see the love of Christ in this man.’
It wasn’t long after that Jeff picked up Virginia’s Bible. ‘I started reading, and I heard God say clearly, if you don’t come to me now, you never will. I’d been procrastinating for a long time, but that absolutely struck the core of my brain because I understood that there was an afterlife. I knew I had a choice to make, and I had to make it then. So I got down on my knees, and asked for God’s forgiveness.’
‘Praise God for that!’
Listen to Jeff and Virginia’s full interview on The Story below: