Arnas and Gabriele, how would you introduce yourselves?
We are Arnas and Gabriele Valentukoniai. We are a newlywed couple from Lithuania, passionate about knowing and serving God. We love traveling, reading, ministering, and many other crazy things. We have been writing a blog about our journey and experiences. You can find it here: thelivingjourney.com.
Many people are surprised when they hear how young you got married. How did that happen? What advantages of marrying young do you see?
Yes, it is not often that you meet people who get married before or around the age of 19 or in senior year of high school. There were several reasons why we decided to get married so young. First of all, we are both Christians, and when we started dating, we set two goals for our relationship: to grow towards God and to get married (not to just date for fun). Second, both of us already lived on our own. Third, we had already been dating for two years so we knew each other well enough to see that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Therefore, right after I, Arnas, turned 18, I proposed to Gabriele. Throughout the process however, it was God who provided us with all the opportunities, help, and financial support that we needed. We only had to accept it.
How did your life look before coming to the BI?
We came to the BI after being married for only 7 months. I, Arnas, was finishing my senior year in high school, while Gabriele was working as a teacher. We also were serving in the local church, and right before coming to Hungary, we went on a one-month-long ministry to help a Christian family in Austria.
It is not common to study in Bible school - especially in Europe. Why did you decide to come to study God’s Word here at Word of Life Hungary?
Yes, a lot of our friends and relatives from Lithuania keep asking us the same question. So, long story short, we did not want to enroll at a university straight away because we did not really know what God wanted for our lives. We were constantly looking for opportunities, and we heard about the Word of Life Bible Institute in Hungary from a few Lithuanians in our area. We came here last year for a short four-day visit, during which we realized, that living and serving God is actually what we want to do for the following year. Studying here right now, we clearly see that we want to continue in this path for the rest of our lives! Coming to the BI is one of the greatest gifts from God to our young family.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
We get to learn something new every day: it could be a mind-blowing theological or Biblical truth, or simply strengthening our daily prayer life - one of the biggest lessons that we got to learn here is not connected to academics. It is the people – seeing other married missionary couples living out their love and passion for Christ. They are great examples to follow, and it has been an enormous blessing to our family being surrounded by these people.
How would you like to serve God in the future?
We have been praying and thinking about this a lot recently. Right now, it looks like God is guiding us to be full-time missionaries in Lithuania. We still do not know the details yet, but every day we spend in the Bible Institute feels like we are getting closer and closer to understanding our calling.
If you are interested to learn more about us and why we do what we do, or maybe just want to talk with us, please do not hesitate to contact us! :)
Arnas and Gabriele Valentukoniai,
I was one year old when my parents divorced, and we moved away from my father. My father was a believer and sometimes when we met, he talked to me about God and the Bible. From the time I was young, my heart was always open towards God. I liked to hear stories about Him and enjoyed praying. At home, I did not know any believers and I did not have Christian friends. For years, I prayed every day and sometimes I read the Bible, but there was no one in my life who was able to disciple me. I soon headed in a bad direction with my unbelieving friends. I did a lot of bad things, things that I regretted. I was very far from God. I knew what I needed to do but was unable to do it. I did not understand how I could get into heaven after my death. When I was 18, someone invited me to the Word of Life winter camp, and I experienced there what I did not have the opportunity to experience before. I got to know a lot of Christian young people, who were full of joy, hope, and purpose. They showed me love. I understood that Jesus died for my sins, paying the price that I deserved, and rose again. This is the gift of God and I believed it.
About the authors
The blog is created by many different people at WOL Bible Institute Hungary: Bible teachers, students, alumni, staff and guest teachers.