As new parents of a new baby boy who was adopted at birth, the future is exciting for Derek and Joni Kristoffersen. But it wasn’t always
this way. Both Derek and Joni went through bitter divorces and custody issues before reaching this point in their lives. Their past experiences spurred them to lead a DivorceCare group, in order to help other struggling families.
DivorceCare and DivorceCare For Kids (DC4K) classes meet in a variety of churches and other locations across Colorado and theU.S., as a method of helping men, women and children recover and move forward from the pain of divorce. The groups are volunteer-led, often by members of the community who have gone through similar struggles themselves. “We are not counselors, but we have been through it, and we understand,” Joni says. “We want to give people hope that there is hope.”
Derek and Joni lead men and women of all ages and backgrounds through the 13-week DivorceCare curriculum, in a group that meetsat Faith Bible Chapel International in Arvada. They charge just $25 for the cost of the book, but say they never turn someone away for the inability to pay. Though class dynamics may vary based on location, in general, classes start with a DVD, followed by group discussion. Each week focuses on a different aspect of divorce, including depression, caring for children and finances. Participants answer questions in a workbook during each week.
“In each class, we say, similar to Las Vegas, what happens here stays here,” Derek says. “If some people choose to marry a second time around, you don’t want to bring all this with you.”
DC4K, for children ages 6-12, follows a similar format as the adult class, but with a craft or activity to help facilitate discussion. “Many kids feel that their parents have abandoned them, and the class helps give them words,” says Mike Mott, marriage and family pastor at Faith Bible Chapel. “If a parent and child are both doing the classes, they have a platform to talk to each other. Many families don’t know what to say to each other.”
The course was developed by Steve Grisson, founder and president of Church Initiative, a nonprofit designed to help churches minister to people experiencing life crises. The curriculum has a Christian foundation, but all people in need of support are welcome. “The course is about divorce and recovery, not theology,” says Mott. “We want people to realize that divorce is a season of life, but it’s not who they are.”
How Families Can Help
“The simplest way to help is if you know someone going through a divorce, suggest that they find a class,” says Derek. “Sometimes people don’t really know how much they need it until they come to a class.” Locations of local adult and kids” classes can be found with a simple zip code search on the website.
Adult volunteers can start DivorceCare or DivorceCare For Kids groups in their communities. Click “Start A Group” on the website, order the curriculum and follow the instructions.