Photo courtesy of Jason and Janelle
A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness and Tender Care
by Jason & Janelle Reinhart
In the Beginning…
Janelle and I met at a Catholic Parish youth event in September ’95. I was helping my sister, Tracy, a Youth minister, with the music for the event. Tracy had also asked Janelle to sing for this event. Janelle was 15 years old and I was 21. The following weekend I was asked to join a contemporary Catholic music band, which Janelle happened to be apart of. Our friendship grew during this time, without getting involved in dating or pursuing a relationship.
A while later, a few friends were going to a Christian Rock concert featuring a dynamic youth speaker and Janelle asked me if I wanted to come along. I was game, since this wasn’t a “real date”, besides Janelle was mature for her age and had a lot of great values. As we approached the concert’s second intermission, the speaker gave us an opportunity to commit or recommit our lives to God. I was deeply touched by the speaker’s message and decided to make that commitment, as I was now slowly growing closer to God after being in the party college scene and playing music in secular band. That night they had small group discussions, for those that had committed their lives to Christ, in an upstairs loft during the intermission. Just as I was gonna get up to join a small group, Janelle turned to me and asked, “Do you want me to go with you?” I nodded. While walking upstairs, our hands brushed against one another’s and she grabbed my hand! OR so I thought! It took another three years to figure out that we each thought that we had grabbed each other’s hands! I was thinking, “Wow is she ever bold!” And she was thinking, “Boy he must really like me and needs my support!”
The Plot Thickens
About six months later the plot began to thicken. Janelle asked me and her uncle to help her write and record three songs for a French singing competition she was entering. This meant spending a lot more time together. During this 2-week adventure I came to know her mother, father and two brothers on a personal level, while seeing how they interacted with each other and what their family values were.
It’s Official; They’re Dating!
Over the next few years our friendship was strengthened and Janelle thought it was great hanging out with an older man! She told her friends all about me and I told my friends, “Are you crazy, we’re not dating, we are only good friends. ME, dating a younger lady, what are you thinking? She’s only 15!” My pride took a real beating, as I was known for having relationships with older women, but never younger. I guess I thought of my reputation before I even thought of consulting God. Well some time later, I finally got over my denial and admitted I was interested enough in her, to call our time together “dating”. However I took some cautious moves first.
Soon after establishing with Janelle that we were indeed “dating”, I made a special point of trying to meet with her parents, because I knew Janelle and her parents were very close and she would never pursue a relationship against their will. Plus I didn’t want to override her parents’ authority in any way. So I took her mom out for lunch. Unfortunately, her dad was unable to meet with us. As I have a business background and don’t care to beat around the bush, our conversation simply started with “Mrs. Letourneau, I care for your daughter very much and think she could be potential wife for me. What do you and your husband expect of a man for her?”
I think I shocked Janelle’s mother at first, being Janelle was still only 16, but she took me seriously and began to state a few prerequisites, such as: making sure Janelle’s husband would be a strong man of God, would take good care her financially, emotionally and spiritually, was family orientated…etc. All the good things godly parents pray for, to be found in their precious little daughter’s spouse. We shared for over two hours and it really built an element of trust between her parents and I. Janelle never did know what that conversation was all about… until our wedding day when her mom finally let the “Secret” out!
Now just to give you little history, before I go on about our “promise”. For Janelle’s 15th birthday she asked for a chastity ring from her parents. Years before she had taken a vow of chastity, but wanted an outward sign of this commitment. Her parents were more than willing to oblige and so the ring became her most treasured birthday gift.
Now months after, one afternoon, after a week or two of “dating”, we were preparing to minister with our band at one of our events. Janelle and I were just talking and she mentioned she’d read in her Brio Magazine (A publication of Focus on the Family) that there was an article on a couple who had waited until their wedding day to share their first kiss! I had been thinking about doing this for two reasons 1) Oh boy, she was too young to kiss, 2) purity is a lot easier when you don’t play with fire. Then I blurted out, “Why don’t we do that?” Janelle was caught by surprise, but soon readily agreed. Furthermore, I was very cautious about saying, “I Love You.” Too many people say those words without really understanding the implications and effect that line can have on someone and the relationship. To me the words meant a lot and were to be used with only the ones whom I truly did love. In fact the first time I told Janelle I loved her was during our marriage vows.
Bible School and the Following Year Bring about Questions
In the fall of 1996, I began studies at the John Paul II Catholic Bible School in Radway and started really seeking the Lord’s will in our relationship.
The following year, I became involved full-time with Life-Vision Communications. We were in the midst of building our recording studio and I was heading up the construction. During this time I had the privilege of living with my only sister, her husband and children. They provided me with a wonderful example of a godly Catholic marriage and family. I observed them all I could because I knew I might just someday be in their shoes, with a wife and family of my own. I learned a lot about kids and even changed a few diapers! Already, God was preparing me for family life.
Meanwhile, our relationship was positively growing and Janelle and I had now been dating for 2 years. It was a time of great spiritual growth in my life and the beginning of my journey into disciplined prayer. I was now spending an hour or more in personal prayer to seek God’s will and direction in every area of my life. God started talking to my heart and asking me WHY I was dating Janelle. This brought up many questions and caused me to examine my reasons for dating her. Knowing we could not get married any time soon because she was still in school, made me realize I would have to exercise patience and learn to let her go, so she could live her adolescent years. It was now time to let go and seek the Lord as a single person, to discern the vocations of priesthood, single consecrated/ missionary life, as well as marriage. Telling Janelle that it was time to “cool it” was hard. The night before we talked, I couldn’t even look her in the eye. That’s when she knew something was about to change.
Time to Take A Breather
Deciding to let go of one another, definitely felt like we were losing a piece of ourselves, because we had shared so many emotions, fun times and dreams together. We had invested TIME into each other. However, this new dawn became a time of new questions; “Was I meant to date Janelle? Will I marry her someday? Will I marry someone else? Will I become a priest? Should Janelle and I keep in contact?….”
For the next four months we decided not to spend anytime together, not date or seek other relationships due to the possible rebound issue. To confirm everything that had occurred over the past couple months, I happened to read through the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, which I had received from my sister. I had felt as if I had written the book in my mind during the past couple of months of letting go and seeking the Lord! It convicted me, but also confirmed that I needed to change my view of dating and the way I should seek relationships in the future. Months after, Janelle read it and felt the same way I had felt, convicted enough to seek truth and change. It became apparent that though Janelle and I had a pure, God-seeking relationship, we could still vastly improve. God was calling us to a greater purification, thus greater heights of true love.
After four months of waiting, Janelle knowing I had no plans on dating her anytime soon, she took this time to see if another relationship was in store for her. Janelle dated another man for short time, but soon discovered that there were unhealthy motives coming into play, which caused her emotional anxiety, thus confirming this other man was not for her. The relationship was nevertheless vital to her growth as an individual and to the confirmation of our relationship.
The Feelings Are Back Again
Janelle’s High School Graduation was quickly approaching and since we weren’t dating anymore, we didn’t know if I should escort her as we had previous planned prior to our four months break-up. Nevertheless, we were still ministering together with our band and we had remained good friends. After discussing it, we decided that enough time had passed and it would be okay to go as friends. Well, were we in for an emotional roller coaster ride! The Graduation came and went, but it seemed as though the feelings were now here to stay. Just to make sure, though, we parted once again stating that it would be best if were not together for a while longer.
Break-up #2 Brings about the De-Tox of Modern Dating
While Janelle and I were apart the second time, I was now focusing my energies on sharing the good news of “No Dating until Your Ready, Leads to Freedom”. I watched my friends end meaningless relationships and others discern not to start other relationships. Even though some friends strongly argued and disagreed at first, most of them have now walked the new road to freedom.
My new theory was this: “Don’t read the menu if you don’t want to order.” Why have a girlfriend if you are not seriously thinking of marriage? To see if I had learned anything from the past 8-9 months of preaching What’s the proper way to date?, I was given a great opportunity to put my new dating motto into action. A lady friend and myself displayed some interest in each other and decided it would be okay to strengthen our friendship, but not to date. Since it was a long distance relationship, being apart gave us a chance to prayerfully reflect on our time together.
Janelle’s Off to ICPE…..What Am I to Do?
While I was discerning this other relationship, it was Janelle’s turn to go to Bible School. On Aug 18 ’98 (my birthday) Janelle was off to ICPE (International Catholic Programme of Evangelization) in New Zealand to seek the Lord’s will for her life. We again decided not to be contact for two months.
Shortly after Janelle left, I was off to discern my other relationship. On one of those “Discernment Trips”, the Lord strongly spoke to my heart while I was driving and said, “Don’t try to Woo this lady, don’t take her out for supper, don’t go on walks by yourselves, don’t go to the movies, don’t write her any love songs on the guitar, don’t take her for rides alone in your convertible and don’t spend time alone with her or you will mess up the plans I have for you.” Our time spent together among friends was great, we challenged each other to grow in different areas of our lives and soon God answered our prayers and we clearly knew that for us to date would be wrong. Wow, now looking in retrospect, God really knew what He was doing when He told me to keep it cool with her! I can see how hard it would have been to discern this relationship if I had been driven by self-seeking motives. It was much easier to call it off, when we had not completely invested ourselves emotionally and formed a bond. It’s like juice crystals and water, it’s very hard to separate them once they have shared themselves and become one.
God Is Faithful…In Everything!
Meanwhile, Janelle was in New Zealand and after our two months promise of not communicating, I wrote her an e-mail. It was the beginning of an intense time of questioning and sharing via the e-mail. It allowed us to establish a vision for marriage and ministry, even if at that time we weren’t sure God wanted us to be together.
At ICPE, Janelle was receiving some beautiful revelations of God’s love and His deliverance. Some deep healing and profound discoveries of herself forced her to grow in the Lord in leaps and bounds! I loved discovering all the beautiful things the Lord was doing in and through her. He was molding my future wife right before my eyes! He was even taking care of the “details”. For example, I had always hoped that my wife would be able to operate tools and be able to fix a few things. I just had to laugh when Janelle wrote me saying at Bible School she was on the Maintenance team with six other guys using tools, mixing cement, painting, fixing windows, building stairs…etc. God was training her and I didn’t even have to ask Him to! It was these little details in accumulation that began stirring my heart and I began asking God if maybe we should move to the next step: “Courting”. By this time, Janelle and I had called each other a few times, but these phone calls were on average four to five hours long! God must have arranged things with the phone company because they put out a promotion that you could call Canada from NZ, talk as long as you want, for no more than $15.00! What a blessing!
The Supernatural Intervenes
After one particularly emotional and excruciating week, Janelle phoned me at 6 a.m. one Sunday morning and talked till 10:00 a.m. She shared with me an incredible experience that confirmed that indeed we should now “Court”.
A group from ICPE went to a city-wide prayer gathering the previous Thursday. That day Janelle had been particularly struggling with the idea of getting married. She had spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament, but still was not at peace with her decision. She had shared her concerns with her spiritual director and that person seemed to find our relationship God-honoring and our motives in order, so Janelle just wasn’t sure what her problem was. The prayer meeting went over well and at the end Janelle went up for prayer. A man, whom had prayed with her before, prayed with her again and said in a gentle voice, “The Lord knows you’re struggling. Tonight He wants to clearly show you the path He has for you. I want you to imagine Jesus standing before you. Now I don’t want to know what you’re struggling with, but you probably have a few path options, right? I want you to wrap each “Option” up and present it to Jesus as a gift. Whichever package He gives you back, is the Path He has chosen for you.”
Janelle thought to herself, “It can’t be that easy, can it?” But she trusted that the Spirit was indeed speaking through this man, as He had so obviously done in prior prayer gatherings. So Janelle wrapped up married life in one package and then single lay missionary life in the other. Her only prayer was, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” To her surprise she sensed that Jesus was giving her the marriage package back! She argued with the Lord in her heart saying, “But Lord that’s what I want, that can’t possibly be Your will for me! Plus, I’m too young!” But she sensed the Lord replying, “My child why does it seem so impossible that what you want and what I want for your future be in union with the other? Don’t you know, I know the desires of your heart?” As she received the package in her vision, one of the men praying over her said, “Janelle I sense the Lord has placed a dove of Peace on your shoulder.” At once she was filled with insurmountable peace.
Now as if that wasn’t enough, she asked the Lord to confirm His will for her in marriage one last time. Almost immediately, one English man began to confidently pray out loud, “L’amour, L’amour, L’amour. Dit Merci pour l’amour.” He was speaking perfect French and he didn’t know a word of it! As Janelle is natively French and fluent she understood right away and tears of Joy and amazement streamed down her cheeks. Jesus had told her ever so gently, “Love. Love. Love. Say thank you for my Love.” She immediately understood that God was asking her to be thankful for His Love that she’d been given through Jason and furthermore in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
God Had It All Planned!
Two weeks passed by and it was confirmed, we would marry in the New Year. But how do we get engaged when she’s in New Zealand and I’m in Canada? Janelle still had four months to go in New Zealand! For two months it was our little “secret” and we enjoyed ourselves in planning it. In December, I went to visit Janelle’s folks to ask for her hand in marriage and then I shared our good news with my parents.
In February ’99, Janelle had to come home early due to her aunt dying of cancer. It was a week of mixed emotions for all of us, the excitement of her coming back, spending time at the cancer clinic with her aunt slowly fading away, shopping for wedding rings, her aunt passing away, our “official” engagement, the funeral….etc.
Our “official” engagement happened February 13th one cold winter evening. I took Janelle ski-dooing. I pulled up to a snow igloo and a soft glow of light was coming from the inside of it. I led Janelle inside and to her surprise she saw I had set up candles all over and a little prayer station with a cross and a precious moments figurine kneeling at it. I asked her if she wanted to pray with me a little while. She readily agreed and didn’t even suspect anything. Then I got on one knee, pulled out a ring box and asked her if she would like to spend the rest of her life with me. Then I said, “Look up.” She looked up to find I had spray painted the top of the snow igloo with “Will You Marry me?” in bright red. I pulled the ring out but it took her awhile to figure out what it was…for indeed it was not like a real engagement ring. Plus, she knew we hadn’t picked a ring out yet, as we’d already been shopping around, so what was it? She soon found out that it was a piece of polished copper pipe I had engraved with “J+J”! However, I was quick to say, “We’ll get you a real one tomorrow; I was just pressed for time!” …What memories!
The Day of Joy Finally Arrives!
We were wed on July 10th, 1999 on a beautifully sunny afternoon in Janelle’s hometown. We remained faithful to our promise and our first kiss was the one we shared on the altar to seal our vows. What a special time for both of us! Also, Janelle wrote and sang me a song as part of her vow. On our wedding night Janelle gave me her chastity ring and upon our return from our honeymoon in Cancun, we soldered it to my wedding band, as a reminder and testimony to God’s faithfulness and tender care.
Jason & Janelle Reinhart
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Catholic music artist Janelle was the theme song singer at World Youth Day ’02 Canada and she recently won “Best New Artist” at the Vibe Awards (Canada’s Christian Music Awards). Check out the RoL review for her award winning album New Day as well as her website www.janelle.ca.
Jason heads Life Vision Communications, which provides media resources, music, programs and services for adults, youth and children around the world. Log on at www.lifevision.ca.
Along with their shared love of music, Jason and Janelle are committed to spreading the faith, particularly God’s truths regarding chastity. They are ardent promoters of chastity and courtship. They were featured on Steve Woods’ tape series Catholic Courtship: A Challenge to Teens & Twenties available through the Family Life Center.
Be sure to also check out Jason and Janelle’s Tips and Prayer Resources for Discerning Marriage.