Harold became a Christian at a Ted and Gloria Roe concert in Zanesville, Ohio, when he was a junior in high school. After that, he was discipled by his pastor until leaving Ohio to attend the Naval Academy, where he was active in Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Bette was saved as a child of ten in a church in Calvert, Maryland. With her Mother’s guidance and involvement in church and youth groups, she grew as a believer. After high school in Annapolis, Maryland, she attended Appalachian Bible College, Bradley, West Virginia. During the summer following her junior year, she met Harold who had stayed at the Naval Academy that summer for special training. Harold and Bette were married shortly after graduation. Harold served five years of active duty in the Navy, and he and Bette were involved in home Bible studies with other couples wherever they were stationed.
Sensing God’s direction into ministry, Harold resigned his Navy commission in 1971. He graduated from Conservative Baptist Seminary in Denver, Colorado in 1974 with a Master’s degree in Christian Education, and Bette received her PHT (“Putting Hubby Through”). They were immediately called to a church in Thousand Oaks, California as Minister of Christian Education. In 1977, they were sent as home missionaries with The Missionary church to start Bible Studies, and eventually a church, in the Rancho Penasquitos area of San Diego, California. With only one year of official support, they soon found they had to become involved in making a living in order to continue their Bible Study ministry. But because of the time and focus spent working instead of cultivating the Bible Studies, the existing studies dwindled and desolved. Soon after this, however, they were privileged to help plant another church in Rancho Penasquitos. It was at this church — New Hope Baptist — that Growing Toward Oneness (GTO) Family Ministries began.
In 1983, they conducted the first GTO Marriage Enrichment Conference for New Hope Baptist Church. With each succeeding year, the conferences developed and grew. Just as the ministry began to spread to other churches, Bette was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer of the lymph system). But God was infinitely kind and faithful, and after nine months of chemotherapy and radiation, He healed and restored Bette to health. Their marriage enrichment ministry continued to grow and expand as other churches heard of the many results God was accomplishing in couples’ lives. In September, 1990, Harold and Bette moved into their own retreat facilities in Idyllwild, California. Although Riverside County Planning Commission approved their holding couples’ conferences in the facilities before they moved in, the Planning Commission changed its mind after the move and required a public use permit to be attained. And then denied the permit April, 1992. The Planning Commission, however, did allow conferences to be held at the facility during the the permit process. And God, in His sovereignty, brought good out of a bad situation. With their permit denied and the retreat center shut down, Harold and Bette began to put their GTO marriage enrichment sessions into writing. Joy Publishing published Achieving God’s Design for Marriage, consisting of a Leader’s Guide and a Couple’s Guide. The books have been out since April 1993, and are being used as marriage enrichment curriculum in churches around the country. Youth With a Mission national leaders from India, Australia, New Zealand and Europe have taken the books back to their countries of service as well.
In September 1993, Harold and Bette moved to Nashville, Tennessee in order to relocate GTO Marriage Ministries to a more central location. Since living in Nashville, they have been active in teaching in many of the Southern Baptist Fall Festivals of Marriage and in conducting Marriage Enrichment conferences and seminars in churches around the United States.
In 1995, their second book, Experiencing Oneness: a Couples’ Study for Growth in Intimacy, was published . This interactive study designed to help individual couples grow in their relationship according to God’s Word, is now available through their ministry, as well as through Christian bookstores. God has promised His Word will not return void. This truth has always been the basis of Harold and Bette’s teaching and writing. God’s principles work! And when couples obey His Word, wonderful results happen in their marriages. According to a Harvard study, with couples who regularly read the Bible together, pray together and attend church together, the divorce rate dramatically drops to 1 in 1,287. This simply proves God’s promise: A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
For scheduling or more information, please contact GTO Marriage Ministries:
2436 Haskell Drive, Antioch, Tennessee 37013