by Linda Kourkoulis

I had never dated much while I lived at home, but when I joined the Navy, that all changed. I spent my tour of duty in Corpus Christi, Texas, where there were approximately 5,000 men and 500 women. It wasn’t long before I started receiving phone calls. I was working at the medical department and living in the women’s barracks, where I shared a room with two other young women. The weeks turned into months very quickly. I was working during the day and dating at night. We would go to the movies or to the club for drinking and dancing, sometimes until the early hours of the morning.

During my enlistment, there was only one time during the week when I would let myself feel the hurt inside. That was on Sunday morning. I remember the first time I didn’t attend mass, something I had never done while living at home. I had gone to bed Saturday night, fully expecting not to wake-up, but to die and go to hell. As I sat on my bed the next morning, I wondered what else I had been told that wasn’t true. I spent Sundays alone, walking, writing letters to my family and friends, calling home to hear the voices of those I loved and that loved me. Sundays were hard, but I reasoned that it was okay, because Monday was right around the corner and I could forget about the emptiness inside.

My roommate Dora, and I would have conversations about God and religion. She had been brought up in the Catholic religion as well. I had never owned a Bible before, so when Dora gave me one I quickly picked it up and began reading Gensis. The words seemed so distant and dry. I really didn’t want another book about God to read, since I already had my Catholic missile. I would go to the little white chapel on base sometimes, but it didn’t have the answers I needed. I was looking for something to fill the void I had, but I didn’t know where to look.

I spent 3 years and 3 months in Texas and in September of ‘72 I came home. I was a different woman than I was when I left. I had become very familiar with partying, smoking, drinking and sex. There was nothing left of me but emptiness and I felt ugly. The drinking and partying continued while I was staying at home, going to school and working. I had stopped looking for anything to fill the void in my life.
In 1975 my brother, David, arrived back from Florida a very different man. He was filled with joy and was always talking about Jesus. Jesus did this and Jesus did that! He always seemed so excited about what Jesus did. I really didn’t want to hear anything he had to say and quickly learned to just avoid him. In September of ‘75 David, my sister JoAnn and her daughter left for Florida. During that time she began writing to me about Jesus. I couldn’t understand what was happening and really didn’t want to know. I became engaged to Labi and began planning our wedding on July 17, 1976.

The week of our wedding, I pulled my back. I rested as much as I could bear that week, and the wedding was wonderful. During the honeymoon, however, I ended up back in the hospital. We arrived to our new apartment a week later and I quickly went to a doctor for my back. He sent me to a neurosurgeon and I was told I needed to stay in bed for a month to allow the swelling to come down. JoAnn had returned home, and she visited me almost every day always telling me more about Jesus! Slowly, I began looking forward to her coming. She would tell me how much Jesus loved me and how He came and died for me. I heard about His forgiveness and how my sins were washed away. On Friday, August 27th, at 6:00 in the evening, just a month after I was married, I gave my life to Jesus. I remember being so overwhelmed with a Oneness I had never known before. As I cried out the words, “I’m sorry, I am so very sorry” I felt a cleansing I knew was not of this world. I felt His arms around me and, though I was the only person in the room, I knew I was not alone. I began reading and listening to everything I could about Jesus. I was in awe. I had finally found the only thing that could fill that void!

The Father answered her prayer...
The first time I saw Labi, I was in a lounge with some friends. I noticed him, and asked the woman I was with who he was, and she said that he had just arrived from Greece. Then, I heard this voice, as clear as I’ve ever heard anything, say “This man will be your husband.” I just sat there dumbfounded. Later that evening, he came over and asked me to dance. That was in May of ‘73.

Though Labi didn’t know very much English, we got along very well. Our 3 year courtship consisted of work, school, and being together whenever possible. We became engaged in ‘76 while in Greece, where I met his family, and were later married on July 17 that same year.

I got saved a month later, and knew that all I had to do was save my husband and we would have the perfect marriage. However, Labi didn’t want anything to do with my new found “religion” and while he didn’t mind if I went to church, he quickly made it known he wasn’t interested.

During the first 3 years of our marriage our first two children, Sarah and Peter, were born. We moved and opened a restaurant. I had to leave behind a good church with a pastor on fire for Jesus and come to a town where I didn’t know anyone. Labi was consumed working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. We rarely saw each other. For the first time I considered leaving my husband. I wondered what had happened to the marriage of my dreams. So, I started to pray for our marriage and for my husband’s salvation. I believed that if only my husband knew the Lord, everything would be all right.

During our first year in our new town we bought our home, had our third child, Thomas and I was led by the Lord to the church where He would care for me. Labi had told me that the children would be my responsibility, so I raised our children in Jesus. The walls seemed to get higher between Labi and I. Although we loved each other, there just wasn’t any time that we spent together. Then, in the summer of 1982, the Lord promised me that He would make my family whole. Surely, when he got saved everything would be fine. I continued to pray this way for eight years.
Labi enjoyed his time with his friends, gambling sometimes until the early morning hours. I would wait up for him and as soon as he would come in, we would argue. One night, as I waited up for him, I was praying for him and becoming angrier by the minute. Then the Lord showed me that it was MY heart that needed to change before my husband came home. He told me that I wanted Labi to be born again so that it would be easier on me, rather than for my husband’s sake. The Lord continued to reveal to me my sin and self-centeredness in my marriage and I began to cry. I asked Him to forgive me and to show me how to love my husband as the Father has loved me. He said to me, “When your husband comes through the door, get up, go to him, hug him and whisper in his ear ‘I love you’”. My husband arrived home just a few minutes later. As the door opened, I saw the look on Labi’s face. He seemed geared up for another argument. I obeyed my Lord. My husband just stood in awe. He didn’t know what to say.

I kept hearing the Lord’s promise to me over the years. He was determined to make my family whole and it would begin with ME. I continued to pray for my husband and often times I would cry for him. He needed Jesus and he couldn’t see why. He needed the blinders removed from his eyes and I prayed for him every day.
There were times when I thought leaving was the answer. But I would remember hearing His voice the first night I saw Labi, and I knew Jesus was the One who brought us together. If I left my husband, I would be turning my back on Jesus.
In December of 1996, after celebrating 20 years of marriage the July before, Labi was in the middle of serving Christmas parties at the restaurant. On the evening of the 20th, he was getting ready to go back to work to serve 300 people, and he wasn’t looking forward to the long night once again. As he walked to the door I asked him if I could pray for him. He said, “yes”. As I laid my hand on his shoulder and began to pray, I could feel the tenseness lessen.

I was in the living room when I heard the key in the door at 11:15 p.m. My husband was home early. When I asked him what had happened, he told me he fed everyone by 8:30, and when they went to dance, the band was so terrible, that everyone was gone by 10:00 and the band had left at 11. He was relieved the night was over, and thanked me for praying for him.

On December 29th our church was gathering at an elder’s house for worship and fellowship. I invited Labi to go and he said yes. It was an awesome evening. So many people were being prayed for and there were words of prophecy for people. As I stood there in line, I look up and saw my husband in the doorway. I was in line next for prayer and prophecy. As the elder put his hand on my head he began to pray, and then suddenly stopped. I opened my eyes to see my husband standing next to me. He put his arm around my waist and the elder continued to pray, but this time he had one hand on my head and the other on Labi’s head. Labi was standing next to me and tears were streaming down his face. The elder finished praying for us and as I looked up I saw tears in his eyes also. He knew what had just happened. Soon after, I saw Labi in another room sitting in a recliner. I just stared at him. When I asked him if he was all right, he looked at me and I saw peace and joy on his face. My husband had been born again!

Together in the Lord...
The Lord has done all that He said He would do. We have both come to understand salvation is a walk that will take the rest of our lives to complete. He has been so faithful. When I wanted to give up, He was there to encourage me. When I wanted to turn away, He would remind me of the words He spoke to me over the years. He has never let go of me, my husband or our children and continues to holds us in the palm of His hand.