FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Family–The Universal Language

with Dennis and Barbara Rainey | December 1, 2006
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Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, having just recently returned from South Africa, talk about the racial climate there and the other changes they noticed since their last trip in 1978.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, having just recently returned from South Africa, talk about the racial climate there and the other changes they noticed since their last trip in 1978.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about the racial climate in South Africa.

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Family–The Universal Language

With Dennis and Barbara Rainey
December 01, 2006
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Bob: There is something about stepping out of your culture and into another culture that can have a way of adjusting your sense of priorities.  Here's Barbara Rainey.

Barbara: When you're in the States day after day, you don't notice the difference between what we have and what people in other countries have.  So I came home with this renewed motivation to want to clean out and simplify and purge and get rid of because it's so easy in the States to acquire, and when you visit internationally, you realize how unnecessary that is.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 1st.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  And with Christmas just a few weeks away, this is a good time to readjust our thinking about what's really important.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  I am still trying to figure this out – if it's wintertime here, then it's summer in South Africa.  So when you were there back in September, it was becoming autumn here, but it was getting warmer there?

Dennis: I'm telling you, and I want to also tell you – this is fascinating – if you get your direction from the sun, in other words if you think of the sun coming up in the …

Bob: … in the east and setting in the west.

Dennis: And it still sets in the west on the southern …

Bob: You were starting to worry me here.

Dennis: Yeah, no, but it comes up in the north.

Bob: Really?

Dennis: The northeast and goes down in the northwest, and it's constantly …

Barbara: Well, and it's hard to get used to the fact that a cold front comes from the south and not the north.  Because when we were there, we had a cold front blow through, and it just is so backwards to think that the cold air is coming from the south.

Dennis: From Antarctica.

Barbara: Yeah, exactly.

Dennis: And one other thing – this is sounding like this is FamilyLife Meteorology Today, but share with our listeners what you and I had the privilege of seeing in the southern sky …

Barbara: Yeah, it was really fun.

Dennis: In the African bush.

Barbara: One of the last nights we were there, we had someone take us outside, and it was just pitch black.  We were finally away from the city enough that we could see the Southern Cross, and that was really kind of fun to see, because the stars in the Southern Hemisphere are different than the ones you see in the Northern Hemisphere and, actually, Jacob is the one, Jacob Mutz, our daughter's husband, who reminded us that we needed to see some different constellations, and so we did.  We asked someone to show it to us, and there it was.

Dennis: Bob, do you know the significance of the Southern Cross?  What navigators used it to do – do you know how it works?

Bob: I'm afraid I don't.

Dennis: I am amazed.

Barbara: I am, too.  We didn't know it, either.

Dennis: We had never heard it, but there are –

Barbara: It's a fun story.

Dennis: There are two stars up above it, and the cross is actually lying on its side.

Barbara: Almost horizontal, uh-huh.

Dennis: And what you do is, you take the cross, and you lie four of them side by side, an then you line up the other two stars, and you run a line from the top of those other two stars down to the fourth cross, and that is true …

Barbara: Celestial south.

Dennis: That's true south.

Bob: Wow.

Barbara: The constellation was low to the horizon, too.  It wasn't straight up above, it was way south on the horizon, and he was explaining how they used to know where true south was by that.  It was fascinating.

Bob: Well, thanks for joining us on another edition of Earth and Sky, we're Block and Byrd.


 Sorry, but I had to throw that in here.

Dennis: You might want to share with our listeners why we're talking about South Africa.

Bob: You had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for almost three weeks back in August and September.  This was a ministry trip that had been in the works for a number of years, actually, and I think, again, our listeners ought to know that FamilyLife has an active, thriving ministry in South Africa.

Dennis: We do.  In fact, South Africa is one of – well, almost a dozen nations around the world that we call "FamilyLife Movement Nations."  We have those in Ukraine, Switzerland, Australia, Romania, Poland, New Zealand, Italy, Fiji – would you like to go there, Bob?

Bob: I'd love to go there, yeah, I need to check it out.

Dennis: Yeah, they're celebrating their 10th year – Croatia, Taiwan, Spain, Philippines, Canada, and South Africa.  And, in fact, in the past five years, we have trained more than 1,680 nationals to start FamilyLife in their country.  These are all people who come from their own nations to carry FamilyLife back to those nations and start Weekend to Remember conferences, Homebuilders, and translate those materials, our radio broadcast.

 In fact, one of the cool things that occurred when I was in South Africa is I was on the radio, and it's just one of, I don't know, three or four radio stations in the entire nation, and they said, "Now, how many radio stations are you on in America?"  I said, "Well, our broadcast is heard about 1,000 times a day," and you could see this radio station manager shoulders drop.  She said, "Why is it so difficult here in our country to have Christian radio?"  She said, "We only have three or four radio stations nationwide, and in some cases there are those authorities who are trying to shut down even those outreaches.

 And sometimes, Bob, we have to go to a foreign country to realize what a privilege we have here in America.

Bob: This was a ministry trip for you to go and speak in a variety of settings and to help advance the ministry of FamilyLife in South Africa, which, interestingly enough, is headed by a former divorce attorney, right?

Dennis: That's right.  Bob, if you walked into our offices up here, just around the corner from our studios, you begin to notice that hanging from the ceiling are over 100 flags.  The first flag that you see as you walk into our international area is the rainbow-colored flag of South Africa, because that was the first country FamilyLife ever visited in 1978 and then again in 1981.  Barbara and I went in '78, I went back alone in 1981, and 25 years later Barbara and I went back along with our daughter and her husband, Jake and Rebecca, went with us.

 We had, as you mentioned, almost three weeks of ministry there primarily because of a former divorce attorney, as you mentioned, who decided he wanted to do something to help marriages in his country stay together rather than dissolve them.

 So a number of years ago he left his practice, joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ there in South Africa, and headed up FamilyLife of South Africa.  And his name is Quintus, and his wife's name is Isolde Swanapool, and God has used them in a mighty way to touch that nation and to turn many hearts back toward the Savior and building their home.

Bob: When most of us think of South Africa, we think of gold mines, or we might think of the African bush, but I think Apartheid is one of the things that comes to mind.  Just give us your impression, Barbara, of the racial climate in South Africa today as compared to when you were there back in 1978.

Barbara: Well, Apartheid is definitely over in an official way, but there's still, I think, are remnants of that, and I think the South Africans would say so, too.  Even though laws have been passed and officially things are different, change just takes time with people.

 And so you still have sections of town that are all white, sections of town that are all black, and there is some blending of those two but, for the most part, it's still pretty distinct.

Dennis: In 1978, when we attended – I'll never forget this – it was revolutionary to have blacks and whites, even as Christians, sitting side-by-side in a meeting to train and equip them in how to be a husband, how to be a wife, a mom, a father, and it was the family that brought those two groups together.

 Well, there wasn't any of that feeling in this trip at all.  So they've come a long way, but it's like Barbara said, there's certainly a lot further to go, too, and that country has got its challenges, because both the white, black, colored, and Indian families – all of them – those are all different racial groups in South Africa – they all have their challenges, serious challenges, and, frankly, if they don't rebuild the family, they're going to continue to have massive challenges for generations to come.

Bob: I know when you come back from an extended trip like this, where you've been in another culture for a long period of time, you come back with some reflection, some observations about life in our culture, about what you've observed in that culture.  Barbara, I'm sure there were some ways you came back and said, "There are some things about living in South Africa that would be very appealing as compared to living in the United States."

Barbara: That's really true.  I remember when we went in '78, I wanted to move there.

Dennis: Yeah, we both did.

Barbara: We came home and said, "Gosh, if there was a way we could pick up our family and go live there, we would," because it felt more conservative, it felt safe, it felt protected, it felt like a really good place to raise a family.

 This time I didn't come back feeling that.  Of course, we're not raising a family, we're at a completely different stage of life, but when you go on a trip like that internationally, you do come back with a different perspective than you left with.  And I had a lot of thoughts coming back into the States – thoughts about how, as Americans, we don't handle silence very well, because we walked into the airport, and there were television monitors everywhere, and they were all on, and they were all talking, and I realized that being in South Africa for three weeks, we hadn't watched television other than a little bit of the rugby games, but we weren't inundated constantly by this incessant chatter of televisions being on all the time.

 And after watching it for 30 minutes, I just had to escape and get away.  It was too much, and I realized how numb we are in the States to noise, and we have it so constantly that we don't have the capacity to think because we're so used to having that background noise all the time.

 Another thing that I noticed was some of the news features that were on just didn't seem to have a whole lot to say.  You know, being gone three weeks, I thought there would be a whole lot that would have happened in three weeks, and I was anxious to kind of catch up and see what was going on, and listening to it, I thought, "Nothing's really changed much."  And that kind of was a surprise to me, too, that there's a lot of talk about not very much.

 Dennis mentioned the title of that Shakespeare play, "Much Ado About Nothing," and I thought, you know, that really says it.  There's a whole lot of chatter going on about not very much.

 Another thought that I had on coming back was just the – and I've had this every time we've gone on an international trip.  I've come back, and I'm just so aware of all the stuff that we accumulate in the States, and being in another country allows you the opportunity to see that comparison pretty clearly, whereas, when you're in the States day after day, you don't notice the difference between what we have and what people in other countries have.

 And so I came home with this renewed motivation to want to clean out and simplify and purge and get rid of, because it's so easy in the States to acquire, and we've become such a consumer nation, and when you visit internationally, you realize how unnecessary that is.

Dennis: Yeah, I wish we could take each of our listeners down this one road that we traveled down where there were all these 10 shacks, shanties …

Barbara: Not just one road, either – multiple roads.  They were everywhere.

Dennis: Ten feet apart, perhaps their houses were 8 feet by 8 feet, just …

Barbara: One or two rooms, really small.

Dennis: Very small, entire families living in there – poverty, no running water, maybe electricity in some of them and, again, we're not talking about 15 or 20, we're talking about tens of thousands …

Barbara: … thousands, mm-hm, mile after mile after mile of them.

Dennis: And that's where people live, that's where they're raising their children and their family and when fire sweeps through there, it doesn't wipe out one home, it will wipe out hundreds of homes.  And crime is rampant, I mean, there's all types of threats on life, there are actually guys who go from home to home and say, "We'll protect your house for a few pennies each month," and if you don't pay them, they'll rob you or burn your house down and others with it.

 You know, when our children were smaller, and I mentioned we took our daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Jacob, with us on this trip, we always looked for opportunities, Bob, and I know you've done the same thing with your children – to take our children on a missions trip.  We've been to Korea, Singapore, China, Macao, Russia, and now with Rebecca to South Africa.  And I'll tell you, there is something about taking your children out of the affluence of the West and letting them see where some people live in such poverty and such dire circumstances, they are wondering, literally, how they're going to make it through the next day.

 I think sometimes, as American Christians, we get so narrow in our focus, and we have so much, that it's really needed once every couple of years to find a way to go to an area of the world, and it may not be a long ways away – perhaps it may be in an inner city near you, there may be some locations near where you live that will put your children in touch with people who have desperate needs.  But I'm convinced they need to see how other people live and what their needs are for the basic issues of shelter, food, and clothing.

Bob: What did you observe, as you think about the ministry of FamilyLife in South Africa, in other countries around the world, what were the big ideas that came home for you?

Dennis: Well, one thing was I think we need a fresh look by the modern church at Africa.  I think we need a renewed emphasis on sending missionaries from America to the continent of Africa.  There are 55 countries there, and I have to tell you, Bob, Barbara and I met a number of missionaries.  I don't think we met a missionary under the age of 50.

 Now, that doesn't mean they're not there.  I think there are a number of businessmen and women who are younger who are going to these countries on the continent of Africa, but we have an aging missionary population on this continent, and I think the Christian community needs to have a renewed emphasis of recruiting young missionaries.

 In fact, flying home, I e-mailed a friend who is the president of a major Christian college here in America, and I said, "You know, I wish I could take about 20 percent of your student body to South Africa for five years."  Now, that's not realistic, but certainly we need to be challenging our young people to be praying and thinking about how the Great Commission relates to us going and being a part of what God is doing around the world.

 A second thing that I reflected on is how the real issue is around training the next generation.  We have to train the younger generation of children, of families, of parents, to raise godly children so that they're going to carry on in these countries.  One of the privileges that I had while I was there was I spoke to a group of Christian leaders who, each one, were the national directors of a different country in Eastern Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Somalia, Madagascar, the country of South Africa, and every one of them was a black face, which was cool.  These are national leaders leading the church and the Christian community in their countries.

 But I spoke to them about how the family is the Great Commission training center, and how their ministries need to be training families and equipping families to pass on the Gospel to their children.  Otherwise, if the family doesn't evangelize the children, then that means we have to send missionaries to each of those countries to lead those children as they grow up to faith in Christ.

 The family is the basic training center, I believe, for leading children to Christ, whether it's America or Mozambique.  I mean, we need a moral and spiritual awakening in each of those countries as well as our own.  In fact, that really leads me to another observation.

 Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, I mean, both Barbara and I, by the time we had seen these poverty-stricken areas, by the time we had met with people individually, I mean, one section of South Africa, 48 percent of the men admitted abusing their wives physically.  That's a huge percentage.  The crime in Capetown, South Africa, more than 60 police officers had been murdered this year – lots of needs in that country.

 We mentioned earlier, HIV-AIDS, more than 5 million people already infected with the disease, and the numbers are increasing every day.  Every country needs a healing of the heart, and I honestly don't know what the hope of the world is if it's not found in the person of Christ and in the Scriptures.

 The last thing that I really observed is that family truly is an international language, and that what God has entrusted FamilyLife with as an organization is really a privilege of sharing what God's given us here in America by paying for translations and taking this message around the world.

 I was interviewed on a television program by four black African men, and after they interviewed me, I began to quiz them about their own families, and one young man was 38 years old, and I kid you not, Bob, he couldn't have been more than 4 feet, 6 inches tall.  He was a short little guy.  And I actually – I said, "You can't be 38."  He said, "Here's my driver's license.  Other people don't believe me, either, but here's my driver's license," and, sure enough, he was 38.

 But he was getting married for the first time, and he had to pay a dowry for his wife of $1,000.  And I said, "You know, I'm going to give you something to help you have a godly marriage," and so I reached into a few books I'd brought along with me, and I gave him "Preparing for Marriage."  I said, "Now, I'll give this to you, and I'll give one to you for your fiancée if you promise me you'll complete it."  And he looked at that material like it was gold.  He said, "Oh, I would love to have that material.  I would love to have that."

 So I signed a brief note to him and his fiancée, and he was very gracious and thanked me, and it just hit me again, we've been given a great opportunity to connect not only here in America around the needs of families but also in country after country, more than 100 of them around the world.  And that's part of why I wanted to share with our listeners a little bit about our trip to South Africa because, as listeners participate with us through praying or through giving financially, they are helping us expand this ministry not only here in America but to more than 100 countries around the world.

Bob: Well, and, as you know, over the next couple of weeks, between here and the end of the year, this is a time when we'll often hear from listeners who will contact us maybe once a year just to let us know that they believe in the ministry of FamilyLife Today; that they want to see it continue, and they'll make a year-end contribution to this ministry. 

 One of the things we want you to keep in mind is that as you support this ministry, you're doing a number of things.  You're helping to keep this program on in the city where you live.  You are also helping us to create new resources, new tools, that families can use to help strengthen their families and to share the Gospel with friends and neighbors.  I'm thinking the things like "What God Wants for Christmas," the resource we talked about earlier this week that's an evangelistic tool that you can use in your own family or you can use in your neighborhood.  A lot of folks are using it to have Christmas parties, where they can make the Gospel central in those settings.

 You're helping us maintain our website,, you're supporting every aspect of FamilyLife and ultimately our aim is to effectively develop godly families who will change the world one home at a time through the power of the Gospel.  So we're hoping that many of our listeners would consider making some kind of a year-end contribution to this ministry, and if you're interested in making a donation to FamilyLife Today, go online at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.  We've got folks who are standing by right now who can take your call or you can, again, donate online at, and I want to let you know about a special opportunity.

 Friends of our ministry who have come to us this month and who have agreed to match every donation that we receive at FamilyLife Today during the month of December on a dollar-for-dollar basis, they want to try to encourage our listeners to join with us and help cover the costs associated with this ministry, and so to do that they have agreed that if you send in a donation for $50, they will match it with a $50 of their own all the way up to a total of $500,000.

 This special matching gift opportunity is something that we hope to be able to take full advantage of, but if we're going to do that, we need to hear from you.  You can donate online, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, and we hope you'll consider doing that.  We hope to hear from you before the end of the month, and please pray for us, too, that we will be able to take full advantage of this special matching gift opportunity.

 Well, I hope you have a great weekend.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday.  We're going to talk with Kurt and Olivia Bruner about a growing challenge – young males, pre-adolescents, adolescents, and post adolescents – who are becoming addicted to video games.  They experienced some of this in their family, and we're going to talk to them about it on Monday.  I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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