Eric Ludy was 21 years old when he met his future bride. She was just shy of her 16th birthday.
With the blessing of her family, he courted her for three years. A former Whitworth College student, Ludy discussed the possibility of marriage with his girlfriend’s father almost two years before he actually proposed.
The couple and their families believed the relationship was pre-ordained by God.
They married in December 1994. Since then they have turned their personal story of romance into a worldwide ministry to teens and young adults.
They have presented seminars in South America and Australia. The Ludys will be at Whitworth tonight and Saturday to present their seminar, “Romance God’s Way,” to more than 1,000 teenagers and their parents.
“When I was a teenager, we had this Christian brand of dating, which was essentially what everyone else was doing but with higher morals. We were always looking for this line in the sand,” Eric Ludy said.
“We’re challenging young people to change that thinking. They shouldn’t be asking how far is too far, but how far can I go to please God?”
Rather than laying down a list of dating dos and don’ts, the Ludys tell teenagers they should be constantly praying and thinking about their future spouse.
Specific rules - like no kissing, no hand holding, no unchaperoned time together - will become apparent through prayer and will be different for each couple, Eric Ludy said.
“We’re interested in purity of heart and mind,” he said. “We tell kids to pretend that their future spouse can see everything they are doing today. Would that future spouse feel honored and cherished and loved? If they would feel hurt and jealous, that’s a sign that we are not thinking about the highest good.”
They believe that God intends for most people, but not all, to be married. They also preach that God has already paired couples up. Through prayer, everyone can figure out who God has selected to be their spouse.
In the meantime, there is a minefield known as the modern world to be negotiated.
Before meeting, Eric and Leslie Ludy were devout Christians attempting to navigate the world of popular culture.
Eric Ludy was a pre-med student and a soccer player at Whitworth. Leslie Runkles was struggling to blend her Christian values with life in high school.
Both decided that to be close to God, they had to drop out of school. Leslie home-schooled herself. Eric took some time off and eventually went to a missionary school in Texas.
When they met at a church function, Eric said he heard God tell him that she was his future wife. Although they spent much time together during the three years before their marriage, their first kiss came during the wedding.
After their honeymoon, several churches in their hometown of Longmont, Colo., invited the couple to talk to youth groups about their relationship.
They received so many requests, they decided to write a book about their experience. When they published “His Perfect Faithfulness,” it only fueled the requests for speaking engagements.
They had planned on becoming missionaries. Instead they founded a company, RGeneration.
“The R is for righteous,” Eric Ludy said.
They published a second book, “Romance God’s Way,” and took their seminar on the road.
In Spokane, David Wolf, youth director at Christian Life Church on Little Spokane Drive, heard about the book from one of the teens in his church.
He looked at the cover and saw his old Whitworth College roommate.
“I called him to ask him if he could come talk to our church,” Wolf said. “And I found out that he usually does bigger forums than that.”
Wolf rounded up support from dozens of other Spokane churches and secured backing from Whitworth. Word of the seminar has spread, and Wolf said he expects the 1,200-seat auditorium to be full.
The Ludys tailor their message to youth who have a Christian background. Eventually, they hope to expand their seminar to non-Christian teens.
“Our goal is to get this into every young person’s mind and heart around the globe,” Eric Ludy said. “That’s how important the message is.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: RELATIONSHIP SEMINAR Eric and Leslie Ludy will present their seminar, “Romance God’s Way,” at Whitworth College’s Cowles Auditorium this weekend. The youth session starts at 7 p.m. tonight and continues at 6 p.m. Saturday. The session for parents begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Each session is three hours long. Admission is free and open to the public.
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