Robert & Marietta Coleman’s Marriage

Youth for Christ

P.O. Box 1311 129/1b High Level Road, Kirullapone, Colombo 6, Sri Lanka

Office Phone: 94-1-825115/6; Fax: 94-1-823808; e-mail:

Home Phone: 94-1-590009; Fax 94-1-501976; E-mail:


24th April 2001


As a spiritual father Clem Coleman has influenced my life and ministry in many ways. One of the most important of these pertained to marriage. Though my parents are both Christian leaders, theirs is not a happy marriage. I needed another model, and Clem and Marietta gave me that. I believe that this has not only influenced my marriage but also has influenced those I minister among. Just four days before writing this, my wife and I conducted a seminar on happy family life with about 200 adults most of whom are converts from Buddhism and Hinduism.


I spent many happy evenings in the Coleman home when I was a student. And I still try to spend some time with them when I visit USA, just to get my batteries recharged. This was a happy couple that demonstrated that people whose personalities are very different could be very happy together. I used to be so amused by what a lovely combination the bright, talkative Marietta made with the quiet Clem (who would, of course, catch up when he explodes in the pulpit).


On my recent visits, it has been so encouraging to me to hear Clem often say that Marietta gets sweeter as the years go by. Once when I visited Marietta while Clem was away on one of his trips, she mentioned how over the years she has come to depend on Clem more and more.


I think the significance of the Coleman’s happy ministerial marriage is particularly marked at this time when marriage is so much under fire even among ministers.


Mingled with this demonstration of a happy marriage are two things Clem said in class. He told us how important it was for a minister’s wife to be contented. He said that if the wife is unhappy about the sacrifices made because of ministry, this unhappiness would automatically be communicated to the children. The children could infer that God was the cause for the unhappiness in their family as the mother was unhappy about the work the father was doing for God. That could result in the children being negative towards God. I knew by that time that God had called me to work with the poor and that whoever marries me would have to pay a big price. I determined that I would marry someone who would be happy despite paying that price. I thank God that he gave me a wife who has nurtured our children not only to love the Lord but also to love and be active in gospel ministry.


Another statement I vividly remember was how he mentioned the joy of coming home after his travels. He said that just the joy of being with family again was something he looked forward to. God has called me to a travelling ministry too. And I have tried to reflect that joy even though I am usually very tired when I come home.


My wife Nelun and I thank God that Clem and Marietta model happy ministerial marriage.


Ajith Fernando