By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BALTIMORE, Md.—John and Maria Kovacs followed God’s directions to move to and minister in Baltimore. Neither knew they were also coming to find their future spouses. Maria arrived in Baltimore in January 2008, serving as a USC2 evangelism associate for Embrace Baltimore. John had just graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art at that time and was a USC2 missionary serving with Grace Life Church’s core group that started The Light Church in Baltimore where he and Maria now serve full-time. She works ministering as needed in the areas of administration, event planning and volunteer recruitment. John manages the art gallery and serves in an associate minister capacity. He is pursuing a Master of Divinity from Rockbridge Seminary. The pair met at the Embrace office when John and Roger Kim, founder of Grace Church, came for meetings.
“Shortly after I met Maria I remember thinking there’s something special about her,” John said.
They “friended” each other on Facebook and regularly talked online getting to know each other and about their shared passion for ministry and seeing lives changed.
“There was a pretty strong connection from the beginning,” Maria said. “I heard the pastor in my home church preach a few years ago on relationships. He said to run for Jesus and look to see who is running beside you. I loved that counsel and wanted it to be the foundation for any future relationship. Both of us were in a season of singleness in ministry. Neither of us was on a hunt for a significant other. It was a blessing to encounter each other at that time—to both be in that place spiritually and individually.”
Maria and John saw more of each other when she began attending The Light Church. At the time, The Light was primarily comprised of young college students and recent graduates.
“I missed that college environment. It filled that void of people my age and the gatherings I had been familiar with. It was a really good fit for me at that time,” Maria explained.
A few months after meeting, the soon-to-be couple began talking about entering into a relationship. John and Maria both saw God working in bringing them together. Maria had recently read Josh Harris’ book, “Boy Meets Girl,” and she wanted to base her relationships on the godly principles in Harris’ book. When she and John began discussing relationship, John began by saying he recently read a book by Josh Harris….” Both believe that was God ordained. They wanted the same type of relationship. Maria consulted with her mother for advice and her mom advised Maria to hold back for awhile and get adjusted to her new home, job and lifestyle. John and Maria took that advice and looking back, they have no regrets.
“It was a special kind of first year,” John said. “Getting to see someone in community can be messy. It brings out all sorts of interesting scenarios. It allowed each of us to see a fuller picture of each other. Things started slower than I anticipated or planned, but looking back I see in hindsight how God had a better plan for our relationship. Good things are worth waiting for,” John said.
When the two began dating, they agreed to abide by the physical guidelines in Harris’ book. Maria admits they are pretty extreme for some people. They decided not to kiss until they were engaged. Maria said they didn’t address it again and they held out longer and had their first kiss on their wedding night.
“It was an exciting gift to have,” Maria said.
“Even to be able to talk about that spoke volumes to our people. They said, ‘Wow! Is that possible?’ Maria said that keeping the physical relationship at bay helped them to focus on God and honor Him in their relationship.
“Our dating was fun and low pressure. There were no regrets,” she said.
They married on January 2, 2010, and celebrated their first anniversary last month.
The couple is happy to have been an example to those in the church and God is using them to minister to dating couples and newlyweds.
John said many people today believe God is behind the times and doesn’t know the needs of our hearts and our longings. “They don’t realize when we put ourselves in that place of focusing on Him and His plans instead of ours; we experience the abundant life God has for us.”