Church builders’ vows anchored in rock

The couple on their wedding day.

Pastoral couple James, 83, and Priscilla Valentine, 69, celebrated 50 years of blissful married life on Friday April 27, and they believe they have reached this milestone only because they made God the anchor of their marriage.

The Bridgetown couple has served the Manenberg community since the 1970s, and although they are retired now, they are still honoured as mentors in the church.

Their journey started when Ms Valentine decided to join an informal youth group at an older couple’s house when she was 16 years old. It was through this group that a campaign was organised in Surrey Estate, and Mr Valentine was the guest preacher.

“I joined the group because I saw how a fellow young lady was so filled with peace, and yet I knew she came from very difficult circumstances at home. When I questioned how she can be so peaceful and have all that trouble, she told me she joined the youth group and gave her heart to the Lord.

“When the campaign was being organised, all the young girls in our youth group were excited for the preacher. I just got irritated. The night of the campaign, the preacher came to introduce himself to me and I told him I knew who he was. Then he came to visit me and eventually he asked my parents if we could court,” Ms Valentine said.

Mr Valentine is originally from Oudtshoorn and is the son of a builder. It came as no surprise then, that he was involved in the construction of three church buildings. One of the churches, Church of Christ in God (Silverstream Tabernacle), was built in 1979, and still takes place of pride on the corner of Greatfish and Ruimte roads in Manenberg. The other two churches he helped build are in Kensington and Wellington.

When asked the secret to their happy, long marriage, Mr Valentine said: “Honour the Lord, for then you will be building on a solid rock. You must be faithful to your marriage vows – a third party belongs to issues of motor vehicles, not in a marriage. The Bible also says you must honour your father and mother and your days will be lengthened. I will be 84 in July.”

Ms Valentine said she loves her husband now more than ever.

“He is not perfect, and neither am I,” she said.

Their daughter, Michelle Janecke, said her parents have always been good examples, especially “in their walk with the Lord”.

“They have been pillars in the Bridgetown community, where they’ve lived for their entire marriage. My mother was five years old when her parents moved into the house that my parents now own. They are still honoured as mentors in our church and the church at large in the Western Cape. In church circles, the name Valentine is legendary in South Africa.

“Five years ago, they handed over the baton to my husband, Wayne and I. We are a senior pastoral couple. Many pastors’ children turn out bitter, but because of the good example my parents set, I am also in ministry today. My father has always been a hard-working man and my mother was our primary caregiver. We were not neglected. My husband and I will stay married because my parents stayed married,” Ms Janecke said.