by Tessie Guell

Alvin and Gloria Slaughter first met at a prayer meeting when they were teenagers. Both had grown up in the church, but their relationship was far from godly. By the time they were 21 they had two children outside of marriage. "My entire relationship with Alvin caught me by surprise because I was very naive," Gloria reflects. They stayed together--just barely. Once Alvin took Gloria to a work-related function. The next day Alvin's manager, a non-Christian, Alvin had been witnessing to, called him into his office. "You painted this monster!" his manager said. "But she is a really nice girl. You have two children with her, but you say you don't want anything else to do with her. It sounds like you want the cookies, but you don't want to pay for them." Then the manager put in the dagger: "Don't tell me anything about your God again. You are no Christian; you are a liar and a hypocrite." Alvin remembers going to the rest room and crying like a baby. "I never had anyone talk to me like that," he says. "I walked back to my cubicle, called Gloria and asked her to marry me." Two weeks later they married--and things got progressively worse. Their third child was born, and Alvin recalls feeling overwhelmed; he was barely a child himself, he says, trying to raise three kids. At one point the family's utilities were turned off, and they were evicted from their apartment. "I felt like a failure as a man," he admits. Returning home one day, his little girl met him outside. "Daddy!" she said. "Mommy threw all your clothes out!" He ran upstairs and found Gloria in the middle of a nervous breakdown. "I hate you!" she yelled at him. They split up. Alvin went to live with his parents, and Gloria and the kids moved into a small basement apartment with her sister. "I would cry all the time and go to sleep holding my Bible to my chest," Gloria remembers. "I knew that this was not God's plan for me." Meanwhile, Alvin fell apart. He stopped showing up for work and wore the same clothes every day. "I truly hit rock bottom," he says. "I would walk down the streets of Manhattan and yell at God: 'I have given You my whole life, and You have done nothing for me!'" But God was not mad at Alvin--and He was listening to Gloria's prayers. One day Alvin's sister invited him to a concert at a church called Brooklyn tabernacle. "I watched as people praised God, hands raised and tears rolling down their faces, and I was touched," he remembers. Alvin got a job at a shoe store and began communicating more regularly with Gloria and the kids. There he got a telephone call from Ralph Byrd, a pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle. "Do you know a Gloria Slaughter?" he asked. Apparently, Gloria had visited the church without knowing that Alvin was attending and had filled out a first-time visitor card. Not long before, Alvin had also filled out a card--and both cards ended up in the hands of the church to pray. When they met, Alvin explained to the pastor all his reasons for not getting back together with Gloria. "Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross, was placed in a tomb and resurrected?" Byrd asked him. "Yes, I do sir," Alvin answered. "Then how come you can't believe He can restore your love for your wife?" Alvin was speechless. "I knew he was right," he says. "Pastor Byrd talked to me that day about love being a decision. I did not fully understand all that he told me. But I knew that I had made an awful mess of my life, and following his advice was one of my last chances at fixing the mess." The Slaughters got back together and started going through counseling. Things were hard at first. "I did not feel like I loved Gloria," Alvin admits. "I kept asking God to change my heart, and the only answer I would get was to continue obeying Him." "We had built our marriage on a weak foundation, and now we had to build on God's foundation," Gloria explains. "That meant we had to put the past aside and start all over again. It was hard, but we were committed to making it work." Within a year, Alvin and Gloria realized a miracle had occurred--they had fallen in love with each other all over again. Eventually Alvin started sensing that God was calling him into full-time music ministry. His "big break" took place when a pastor who heard Alvin sing at a wedding reception asked him to sing at a pastors' conference. Overnight, Alvin began receiving hundreds of invitations to sing, and Gloria had to quit her job to assist him. Today, Alvin sings around the world and shares his testimony. He has recorded three solo albums on the Integrity label: Champion of Love, Revive Us Again and God Can. Having seen what God has done for her marriage, Gloria is positive about what He can do for other troubled relationships. "Remember, nothing is instant, nothing happens overnight," she says. "People give up too soon. It takes time to build a relationship. In marriage you have to commit, and you can't give up."

Reprinted by permission, Charisma