Marriages, especially in today’s world, are subject to many challenges.
Our society seems to offer more hindrances to true love and lasting fidelity than it does support. Add the role of parent to the equation – of not one, but three African American young men – and you might expect an especially challenging situation.
Married for 34 years, Elder Edward Bradley and his wife Cozette are long-time West Angeles members who’ve gracefully raised three wonderful sons. They’ve been involved in several ministries, including Connections To Care, and the Fatherhood class at the West Angeles Counseling Center. Elder Bradley’s book, “Fatherhood: The Role of a Father” (Tate Publishing) explores what it’s like to be a man in today’s society where balancing the roles of provider, protector, and head-of-the-household can be difficult, to say the least. He explores reconciling manhood and fatherhood from a biblical perspective, while challenging men to become all that God has asked them to be.
Elder and Mrs. Bradley recently shared with us some of their wisdom, insights, and a funny story or two about maintaining a strong marriage and raising sons into strong men in a new millennium.
Q: Elder and Mrs. Bradley, thank you for sharing your story with us. How did you meet, and how long have you been married?
We were both born in California. We met on June 1st, 1980, on a Sunday afternoon at West Angeles Church of God in Christ. We were married five months later on November 22, 1980.
Q: Wow-a whirlwind romance! Through Him, anything is still possible. We’ve all heard it said that “Marriage is work.” As a wife myself, I do find that to be true – but not necessarily in the way society describes. Can you please share a challenge that you have overcome as a couple, which you transcended and became stronger because of it?
There are books on marriage, but every couple has a different makeup. Learn to work on your strengths and determine what will enhance the relationship. We really did not have any problems coming together. Yes, we had to work on logistics; moving my wife from another city to Los Angeles. We then worked on our finances. But overall it was pleasantly smooth. We were – and are – very happy; that took care of a lot of problems that may have derailed another couple. We made plans for our marriage; and yes, we made mistakes. But through it all, we trusted in the Lord. For our marriage, going to mid-week bible study (at West Angeles) was key. We learned so much as Pastor Blake (as he was known back then) ministered to the congregation. Both Sunday morning and evening services were excellent, but those services in the middle of the week handled life’s issues that may have tested us between Sundays.
Q: Elder Bradley, you’ve written a book on parenting, and you’ve been successful at raising three African American boys into men. Looking at today’s world and the challenges we face, what tips can you share that may help other parents who are struggling to keep their children on the right path?
In parenting, we must live what we preach. Parents should not live a double life at home; another at church, and another out in public places. Your children lose respect for you. Parents, be a person of your word; be “on one accord.” And do not be afraid to discipline your children. “Yes” is yes and “no” is no! Show them love and affection, and tell them you love them, even if you never heard it from your own parents. Teach them the word of God at home. Come to church together and sit as a family.
Q: Has purpose factored into the work you’ve been chosen to do? If so, how?
I was a Correctional Officer. I worked behind prison walls. Seeing people incarcerated and seeing that side of existence gives you another perspective on life. You determine through prayer and hard work at home not to see your children caught up in any negative lifestyle that the world is offering through outside influences. You educate them and other young people on the vices that would pull them down. We must lift them up continually! That is what helped me make the decision on how to raise our family. Also, being married since 1980, we have seen many couples go astray. But couples need to know that Jesus can keep them happy, elated, and satisfied with their own spouse! We would say that our gifts are for the purpose of encouraging young men and women. We minister to couples and try to implant the Lord into their lives. Our purpose is to fulfill the dreams and goals of our church. Wherever we can assist is where we want to be.
Q: How did you come to be members of West Angeles, and how has West Angeles been instrumental in your Christian growth?
I came to West Angeles in November of 1979 out of obedience to God. After 8 months He added a wife to my life, then years later, 3 sons. Coming through the doors of this ministry was a profound move of the Lord, and hearing the Word coming from Bishop Blake was phenomenal, mesmerizing, challenging and encouraging. He taught us young men how to be men of God; good husbands and fathers. As my wife and I grew as a couple, we started to share what we were taught. We had many who told us we were having children too fast because they came 3 years in a row! I told my wife that if they had a question about that to come see me! We are married and we are doing it right and we can afford them. Many others felt that raising 3 sons would be hard. Some said, “Yeah they’ll probably end up in gang activity”, or that they were “not going anywhere”; always giving us negative feedback. We knew that we had – and still have – faith in God for their protection. We decided to listen and reflect on God’s word and accepted Psalm 91 as our family scripture. So faith comes by hearing, and we heard and read God’s word. We put faith into action. Do not allow anyone to cast a negative shadow over your family! Always remain optimistic and positive and put the word of God over every situation.
Q: Are there any stories or lessons you’d like to share from your experiences as parents which may help others?
One story we want to share about raising children is, years ago, we went with several members of our extended to an out-of-town wedding at a hotel by the sea. We had a good time with family and friends. At the end of the weekend, as everyone gathered in the lobby to check out of the hotel, we suddenly heard the fire alarm ring and everyone panicked! The Fire Department and EMS came, but there was no fire, and no one knew who pulled the alarm. For a few minutes there was confusion and questions, but still no answers. As we left the hotel, we asked the kids where they’d been during all of the excitement. As we continued our trip home, we still could not get an answer, and we believed them…somewhat. But my wife kept asking. As we continued to ask them questions over the next week or so, we finally found out that one of them had done it and the others covered for him. We dealt with the untruthful son and the two “cover-up brothers” – in a nice way of course – and with a warning about deceit and dishonesty. The interesting part is it hurt them more to cover up the story than it did for any punishment we as parents could dish out.
Q: That’s a great lesson in using discernment and persistence as parents. In closing, is there anything you’d like to share about how the ministry at West Angeles has blessed you both?
West Angeles Church is a church which flows through the Holy Spirit, in a vertical relationship with God who moves spiritually through its members. Those members who are bold enough grab hold of that Spirit through prayer and supplication. With that, the Holy Ghost flows out of each of us and we are commanded to compel men, women, boys, girls, families and marriages through the power of Jesus Christ. We have to tap in and connect to the spirit of this ministry to make world-wide change. So be encouraged to stop sitting on the sidelines and use the talents and gifts God has given you. Yield to the Holy Spirit; for, as Bishop Blake says, “We are called to minister and witness to a deeply distressed and troubled world.”
Elder and Mrs. Bradley, thank you for setting a wonderful example, and thank you for blessing us with your story.
The WEST ANGELES COUNSELING CENTER offers classes on marriage, parenting and more. CONTACT 733-8300 ext. 2360, or email [email protected]