Deeply Rooted

The role of friendship in forty-five years of marriage

Forty-five years. Since the day Duane and Jolene Laugerman met behind the church float at the Veisha Parade at Iowa State in 1972, they have been serving the Lord together. They served with churches in Ames, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids before joining the Walnut Creek church plant to Des Moines.

“Faithwalkers is a family reunion for us,” Jolene said.

Des Moines has been home since—where they've raised their four children and faithfully served the Highland Park location. Through the years they've had many friendships and have learned the importance of community firsthand.

“You miss people,” Duane said. “But you want to continue to make new relationships as well as keep up the old ones. Part of life is our memories. You hang on to those relationships. I have long-lasting relationships, and they really know me.”

Duane likens friendships to a redwood forest. The trees are 300, 400, or 500 feet tall, but their root systems are 14 inches deep. “The sheer mass of the trees holds the other ones up. We need our relationships. They are our roots,” Duane said.

Ever since college, Jolene has strived to start her relationships by trying to live out the one another commands. She asks herself the question, “Who can I serve,” and goes from there. Some of her closest friends became the people she actively served by watching their kids, helping them clean, or going to the grocery store with them.

“With each relationship, there can be a lot of joy and a lot of hurt. But I can't be afraid to make relationships,” Jolene said. “I came from a small family so this church is my family.”

When they were raising their four children, the Laugermans depended on the church when they needed help. And, they still depend on their church family today.

In their current small group, Jolene and Duane are the ‘grandparents’. As their roles have changed over the years, Jolene says there are always ways to serve your Community Group: bringing someone a meal, offering to help them move, or volunteering to babysit.

“We are the saints, and we meet needs in whatever way we can,” Jolene said.

“I look at every person and think, ‘This could be the next apostle Paul,’” Duane said. “That’s my brother. That's my sister. My love for the saints motivates me.”

The Laugermans have learned that friendships within the body of Christ play a vital role in strengthening their marriage. Duane says an interview he heard on the radio about a couple’s secret to their long marriage has proved true in their lives: be committed to people who are committed to marriage.

“We can struggle, but we are committed. Marriage gets better and better,” Duane said. “The nature of the church is that it helps everybody to hang in there.”

“We can struggle, but we are committed. Marriage gets better and better,” Duane said. “The nature of the church is that it helps everybody to hang in there.”


Jolene suggests married couples find something refreshing to do together. That has looked different for Duane and Jolene during different seasons of life. Right now, serving together means helping to facilitate the GriefShare ministry.

GriefShare is a 13-week program to help those who have lost a loved one. People can join at any time and can also go through the program multiple times if they need to.

“You are never so raw and vulnerable as when you lose a spouse or a parent or a child,” Duane said. “By hearing each other, they come back to where they need to be. As facilitators, we are helping them talk to each other.”

The GriefShare program points people to Christ at a time when they are often having lots of questions about God’s goodness and character. The Laugermans have enjoyed serving together and helping people find those answers. Wherever they are serving, Duane and Jolene want to keep building up the body.

“I am praying that the Lord would be my strength. I don’t want to quit,” Jolene said.

Duane has another favorite tree analogy that has helped him persevere and not grow weary in doing good for the Lord and His people, the church.

“Old palm trees can bend all the way to the ground in a storm,” Duane said. “As we are righteous, we become tender and flexible. Hang in there. Thank the Lord. It's worth it.”