Transforming Lives and Declaring the Sovereignty of God
Have you been wondering how to make a marriage work? We have an amazing couple who is not only building the next generation of powerful leaders but is also teaching couples how to keep the spark in their relationship.
Bishop John E. Baker and his wife Elder Ann-Marie Baker are Lead Pastors of New Hope International Outreach Ministries (NHIOM) in Tallahassee, Florida. “NHIOM is a Pentecostal, Bible-believing church with a message of salvation, reconciliation, and hope through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Bishop Baker. “Our mission is to reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to develop mature believers by teaching them the principles of the Word of God, and to release men and women into Christian ministry through the empowerment of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.”
The couple has been in ministry for the past 41 years, and throughout the years have hosted many conferences, leadership seminars, coaching workshops, and community events. Kingdom builders, Bishop and Elder Baker have developed several top-producing leaders and have helped countless people find God’s plan and purpose for their lives. The couple has preached in many states here in the USA, and they have also spread their wings and have taken the gospel and their teaching on families/marriages and leadership development to other countries, including England, Canada, India, Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad, Barbados, and Ghana.
In Tallahassee, the Bakers are known for holding the NHIOM Family Life Conference in the summer of each year. “Families are experiencing many challenges due to changes in family structure and other societal and spiritual pressures,” Elder Baker tells us. “Our life changing conferences seek to equip and empower people to overcome these challenges and to lead healthy and productive Christian lives.”
The Bakers are passionate about seeing people break through the bondages in their lives and invite success into every area. During February of this year, Bishop and Elder Baker hosted a virtual prayer conference, along with 5 other purpose-driven ministry leaders—Pastor Ricky Williams, Sr., Overseer Bernard Salmon, Bishop Designate Overseer Keith Linton, Pastor Rendell Smith, and Elder Paulette McFarlane. Under the theme, “God is in Control: On Time, On Track, Declaring the Sovereignty of God,” the time of intercession was a blessing to the attendees. Following the prayer conference, the Bakers will host NHIOM’s Prayer Summit on July 16, Family Enrichment Seminar on July 30, and Believers’ Conference September 15th thru 19th. Participants will be able to attend in-person and virtually.
THE MINISTRY OF MARRIAGE
Bishop and Elder Baker got married on March 7,1981 in Mandeville, Jamaica. After 41 years of marriage, they are still committed to God, loving each other, and teaching others to do the same. The couple first met during their college days in Jamaica and began courting soon after they realized they were interested in each other. The Bakers made it clear that marriage should be seen as a ministry and not be neglected to pursue other activities.
THE ROLES OF HUSBAND & WIFE
“Do you think what it means to be a good wife or husband has changed over the time you’ve been together?” That was one of our questions to Bishop and Elder Baker.
“Both the husband and wife are evolving,” Elder Baker remarks. “Even so, the foundation principles such as love, honor, and respect remain the same. How you perform such acts may change.”
“I agree,” Bishop Baker declares. “Love, honor, respect, devotion to each other, having each other’s best interest at heart, and making provisions for the family, remain the same. The way and the opportunities we get to carry them out may change over time because as my wife indicated we are evolving.
We believe it is important to have a prayer life and allow God to lead concerning your roles among other things. It is so important to pray for your mate out loud. It lets your spouse know what you are praying about concerning them and it makes a difference when they know what you are praying concerning them.”
PRACTICAL THINGS TO PREPARE FOR IN MARRIAGE
Marriage is a momentous occasion in life, but it is also a life-changing experience. From Bishop and Elder Baker, here are a list of practical things to look out for:
Be prepared for a period of transition and adjustment.
Prepare to help each other grow mentally and physically. The person you are when you just got married is not the person you’ll be in the years to come. You have to help each other grow and mature.
Encourage your spouse.
Pray for wisdom so you’ll know when to step back and allow each other to grow.
Get a Godly mentor for your marriage. Being able to have wise counsel along your journey is important.
BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE
Bishop and Elder Baker have successfully maintained a healthy marriage and are mentoring other couples. They share the keys to keep the fire burning in your marriage:
Always put God first.
Listen to each other and forgive each other.
Listen to those who love you and offer sound advice.
Be open to learn, change, and grow.
Understand that what works for others may not work for you.
Don’t try to pattern everything that was done in your parent’s home. Find the flow for your marriage.
Rely on each other's strengths. For example, one person may be good at finances so allow that person to handle the finances.
Discuss your roles in the marriage.
Set clear boundaries to protect your marriage.
Agree that divorce is not an option.
THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON A MARRIAGE
The individuals’ religious views can have a negative or positive impact on their marriage. “Religious beliefs are important,” Bishop Baker states. “That’s why the Bible talks about being unequally yoked. For how can two walk together unless they agree? Religious views can affect every area of a couple’s life. If you are a Christian, then you have to line up with someone who is going in the same direction.”
CREATING BOUNDARIES IN A MARRIAGE
To maintain a healthy marriage, boundaries are important. Here are the couple’s suggestions:
Respect each other’s space by establishing healthy hobbies to provide a sense of independence yet togetherness.
Create space for your spouse by including them in outside friendships such as the opposite sex.
Ensure your spouse feels secure in you and the marriage.
Listen to the needs of your spouse and honor them.
Prioritize and divide your space, focus, and time.
HANDLING CONFLICT IN MARRIAGE
Conflict in a marriage can make or break the relationship.
“We believe in keeping the slate clean,” Elder Baker states. “It is important for us to resolve conflict quickly, no matter how difficult it is. The longer you allow it to linger, the harder it will be to confront.”
Bishop Baker adds, “As a husband, I set the ‘temperature’ in my home. I am strongly committed to not let my words deflate my wife. We do not create an environment where we have to walk on eggshells. We can express ourselves in a respectful way. I understand that I have to answer to God. I don’t want to live a charade because I want to live the life that I preach. At the same time, I don’t only want to preach what I have mastered. So, I challenge myself to reach my next level as a husband. When counseling other couples, I encourage them to do the same. Keep the slate clean. Ephesians 4:26 says ‘Be angry, and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath.’”
Elder Baker reveals, “I’m a vocal person and usually make my opinions known; however, I have matured over the years. I am more conscious of how my words may affect my husband and family and make a greater effort to choose the right words. I’ve also learned to compromise and forgive, and my husband does the same.”
ADAPTING TO THE NEW NORMAL
Over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have struggled to adapt to the change in a positive way. One of the things Bishop and Elder Baker miss most is the ability to travel. However, they found a way to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, they have created a new normal for their family—every Monday night, the Bakers host “Family Prayer Night” with their children. “It’s a time to check in with our children and pray together. This has been really special to me,” says Bishop Baker.
CONNECT WITH BISHOP JOHN & ELDER ANN-MARIE BAKER