By Mark Hornback
When you and the love of your life are pronounced husband and wife, you imagine you will be married for life. You assume they will be by your side to the end. However, for Russ and Sherry Sieren things did not turn out as planned in their first marriages. Even though they have been married since the beginning of 2007, it’s the second marriage for both.
I’ve known Sherry since I was a baby. She and her first husband, David, were part of the church my dad, Bill Hornback, pastored. When I grew up, I began serving in the church as worship pastor, and I got to know Sherry even better when I became her boss at the Family Christian Store. She was one of the first people I told when I got engaged!
Sherry was married to the love of her youth, David, for 23 years. Together they had four beautiful daughters, two with special needs. They built their home on the foundational love of Christ. When Sherry looked at David, she saw the man who delivered her from an abusive home life and promised he would always take care of her. So, it hit hard in 2003 when David was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly this man of great strength was fading before her eyes. Early on a Sunday morning in April of 2004, he passed away. For the next three years Sherry worked hard to reset her life without her husband. Her daughters grew up, graduated from high school, and eventually moved out on their own. Sherry had accepted the idea that she would be alone, but God. . . .
Both Russ and Sherry sustained devastating losses, including the loves of their lives. No matter how hard Sherry fought against cancer and Russ fought for his marriage, they were now alone. That is, until Sherry’s mom met Russ at church.”
Russ was also married to the love of his youth. He and his wife had three sons and two daughters. While Sherry and David enjoyed being married to each other, Russ had to fight for his marriage. When the couple faced struggles during their thirty-year marriage, instead of coming together to fight through the pain, they fought against each other. In 1981 Russ’s wife filed for divorce, then by the grace of God they later reconciled and remarried. (Russ’s wife would end up leaving him on four separate occasions.) A short time later their daughter Rachel was born with many health problems that caused her to pass while still an infant. Then in 2000 they received a phone call that there had been a motorcycle accident. They arrived quickly on the scene to find their second oldest son, Clint, lying in a ditch with the cycle a few feet away from him. They knew he was gone. The weight of this pain was too much. Russ’s wife filed for divorce, and this time there was no reconciliation. Russ was fighting the feeling of failure and loss. He KNEW that God wanted their reconciliation story to inspire others, yet here he found himself in the middle of a divorce. For some reason, he and his wife couldn’t sustain the marriage they both knew they wanted. Like Sherry, Russ believed he would be alone, but God. . . .
Both Russ and Sherry sustained devastating losses, including the loves of their lives. No matter how hard Sherry fought against cancer and Russ fought for his marriage, they were now alone. That is, until Sherry’s mom met Russ at church.
At the time Sherry’s daughter was participating in Master’s Commission in Springfield, Missouri. Sherri was preparing to take the long trip from Ottumwa, Iowa, to Springfield (about five and a half hours) to see her, when Sherry’s mom mentioned a nice man at church that could escort her on the trip. While Sherry and Russ did not have romance in mind, the Lord was reviving a part of their lives they thought was gone forever. The many hours on the road allowed them to open up and share all they had gone through – the good times and bad times, raising kids, and adapting to single life.
During that car ride, they both felt it was time to open their hearts to the prospect of falling in love and being married again. Sherry knew David was not coming back; Russ knew his first wife was not coming back, but they both knew God could make their stories beautiful.
It wasn’t too much later that I got a call from Sherry asking if she could stop by my home; she had something to tell me. The doorbell rang, and there on my front porch stood Sherry holding hands with Russ, both with big smiles on their faces. I welcomed them in, and on Sherry’s left hand was a brand new diamond. She said very proudly, “Russell and I are getting married, and we couldn’t wait to tell you!” They were married two weeks before my wife and I were!
Within a few weeks I sat with my soon-to-be wife and watched the two commit themselves to one another. In that moment they were both reminded of their calling to speak the beauty of God’s Word, the fulfillment of His promises, and the powerful message of God’s unrelenting love for them. He can take any situation and work out the best outcome!
As they have been in prayer, they have felt the Lord speaking to them to share their story. In 2019 the Sierens shared their story in church and felt the Lord was asking them to travel and share with as many people as will hear it. They firmly believe the Lord is telling them, “I am a covenant God, marriage is a covenant of God, so honor Me and keep your covenant.” He has laid on their hearts to start the ministry “Married and Married Again,” all about God’s redemption and how He gives us a second chance to fulfill His promises.
About the Author
For the past five years Pastor Mark Hornback has been the lead pastor of First Church of the Open Bible in Ottumwa, Iowa. He has a calling to not just leave an impression of Christ but to inspire Christ-living in all areas of life. Along with leading his church, Mark is also a health coach, teaching people about spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health – instilling in them the transformational power of Christ. Mark and his wife, Jennifer, have three children.