Reflecting on 26 Years
About the Guest
The classic "caged bird" story with Rebekah
Announcement: Dennis Rainey Transitions as Host of FamilyLife Today® with video announcement
40 Years of Faithfulness 2 CD set
Dennis and Barbara RaineyDennis and Barbara Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Their 43+ years of leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries. Together they have spoken at over 150 Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways and authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples, Staying Close, A Symphony in the Dark, and Barbara’s most recent, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife...more
Dennis and Barbara Rainey reflect on more than 25 years of ministry through FamilyLife Today. Three of the Raineys’ children, Samuel, Rebecca, and Laura, call in to pay tribute to their parents.
Reflecting on 26 Years
Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. The penultimate—I like that word, penultimate—you know what that means; right? [Laughter] Before the ultimate, there is the penultimate; so tomorrow’s the ultimate, today is the penul—penultimate—[Laughter]—I couldn’t say it!
Barbara: If you can say it! That’s why—[Laughter]
Bob: It’s sweet to start off with a call from a listener. In fact, we invited listeners to call in and just share some of how God’s used FamilyLife Today in their lives over the last couple of weeks. We got a lot of great calls, and we’ll post some of those on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com for those who’d like to hear those. But that’s nice to hear; isn’t it?
Dennis: It really is. We’re all about, first of all, introducing people to Jesus Christ and His redemption and knowing Him as Savior, and Lord, and Master. And then, I love it—that here’s a couple that were in trouble, and that He not only redeemed them and saved their marriage, but He turned them into a missional couple, who are making a difference in others. Bob, that’s the Great Commission—that’s what all of us are to be about.
Bob: Well, in fact, we should listen back to this; because back on the very first program, one of questions that I asked you, back on November 9, 1992, was: “What’s your vision for FamilyLife Today? What do you hope, going forward?” I don’t know if you remember what you said.
Dennis: I don’t.
Bob: Well, here’s what you said.
Dennis: Bob, one of the things that we want to do on this program is to bring people in touch with the Bible and with Jesus Christ in practical, relevant ways to the problems they face. We want to give them clear-cut solutions that they can apply and that they can begin to build, not only into their own life and their own marriage, but also into their own children.
It’s going to be increasingly important, Bob, that we give laymen and women courage around the country to, not only make their own marriage work, but give them courage to raise their own children; because I don’t believe the days are becoming easier for our young people to get married. I don’t believe the Christian family is headed for extinction; I believe quite the contrary is true—I believe that it is a bright light on a hill. That’s what we want to do—is help people’s light shine, so that others may see; and they would be compelled to find out what makes this work.
Bob: I’m listening back, and I’m thinking a number of things. First of all, the audio has gotten better over the years; right? [Laughter]
Dennis: I hope my voice has—that was a sickening voice. [Laughter] Barbara leaned over next to me and she said, “You sound terrible—who is that?”
Barbara: No; I didn’t say that—I said, “It doesn’t sound like you.” [Laughter]
Bob: But what the guy said sounded just like you—
Barbara: Yes; it did.
Bob: —and what you’ve said for the last 26 years. You haven’t changed your mind about what FamilyLife® should be all about; have you?
Dennis: It’s all about how God designed marriage, how the Scriptures proclaim that, and how [we] want to help people come into contact with Jesus Christ and then give them the courage to do the same with others.
Bob: As you think about—and again, we should make it clear for our listeners—we’re in a transition season. Today and tomorrow will be the conclusion of your regular time on FamilyLife Today. As you think about where you’re headed and going forward, what plans do you have?
Dennis: Well, Barbara and I actually sat on our porch yesterday afternoon; and we talked about that—and how we want to give a chunk of time to focus on our kids, their spouses, and our grandkids.
Bob: And actually, we have a cheering section that has joined us that would like to affirm that portion of your decision. [Laughter] So, who’s on here with us?
Samuel: Samuel’s here.
Rebekah: —and Rebekah!
Bob: Three of the six kids have found their way to today’s broadcast. For you guys—the two of you to try to calibrate time with kids and grandkids—that could be a full-time job; couldn’t it?
Dennis: It is a full-time job. I mean, just these three right here—
Dennis: —eleven grandkids between them.
Bob: And you have three more that have how many?
Barbara: I don’t know; I’m terrible at math. What is that add up to?
Barbara: Seven and four—
Bob: Samuel, you and Rebekah were guests on FamilyLife Today to talk about the book that you wrote together with your mom and dad called So You’re About to Be a Teenager. You looked back on the experience of growing up and transitioning from pre-adolescence into adolescence and offered some coaching for other kids going in that direction. That had to be an exciting season for you to be helping to write that book and sharing those stories.
Samuel: It was awesome, because it was the first time in my life that I’ve actually been part of telling the story about my childhood. [Laughter] I didn’t leave it up to Mom and Dad to put whatever spin they needed to put on it. [Laughter] It was a great experience to be in that process of writing a book; but then, also, to be telling some of my stories and some of the places that I was shaped and really hoping to help others to be shaped by some of those things. I remember lots of laughter during the taping and those broadcasts.
Bob: Yes; that’s where we heard the classic “caged bird” story. We’re not going to retell it here; but if our listeners are interested, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and hear Rebekah. [Laughter] Rebekah, do you remember—as you were growing up and your mom and dad were on the radio and they were telling stories about your family—did that ever get embarrassing for you?
Rebekah: No; I don’t think so. They’ve always done such a good job of asking before they tell a story. I mean, I think doing the radio for the About to Be a Teenager book was really fun to do with Samuel; number one, because it was just cool to do with one of my siblings; but then, the other fun thing about it was I felt like I had a lot of good stuff to put in the book; so that was just really fun for me.
Bob: Laura, was there ever a situation where you would tell somebody your name—you’d say, “I’m Laura Rainey,”—and somehow they would go, “Are you related to Dennis and Barbara Rainey?”
Bob: If that happened, was it a net positive or a net negative when that happened? [Laughter]
Laura: Well, it kind of depended. [Laughter]
Dennis: —if it was a guy she was dating! [Laughter]
Laura: It was probably a negative. [Laughter]
Bob: Little chilling effect there?
Laura: Yes; chilling—yes; for sure. And people would say, “What’s it like to be a Rainey?” and I’d say, “What’s it like being a Smith?” [Laughter] I mean, it’s pretty much the same, I think—maybe a little bit more challenging in some ways.
Bob: Samuel, as you think about this transition that’s taking place after 26-plus years of your dad being on the radio every day, what thoughts do you have about that?
Samuel: You know, one of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is the word, grace. You know, I think a lot of our childhood and growing up in the Rainey house was tough, in a lot of ways, because—and by no means did Mom and Dad have all the answers; by no means did they promote having all the answers—but, you know, we kids gave them a run for their money. [Laughter] We gave them lots of material for the radio show and for books. I think the word, grace, just comes up as I reflect about how they always honored us in part of that process.
You know, in this transition, I think that’s shown up too—just the grace and gratitude that they have shown for stepping out with integrity and stepping out to this next season of life with grace. It’s just been amazing to watch. I think it’s the mercy of God in each of their lives; and it’s been evident to see them come up against lots and lots of hurdles that, from a human perspective, are impossible—to watch them do it with such grace and, honestly, just humility towards their role and towards what they feel like God is calling them into the next season.
So glad to be here with you all, virtually, in the studio to say, “Thank you,” and to just offer my appreciation and my deepest thanks for how you all have led, even in this season of really, really difficult transition—to step aside and to do it in a way that sets up the people that are going to be taking the baton to the next generation and the future.
Bob: Rebekah, how about you?
Rebekah: That is just so well-said, Samuel. I would agree with the word, grace. I would say, as I have watched them transition, the word I keep thinking of is “expectation.” I have great expectation for them as they move from this season to the next. I expect that there will be lots of learning and lots of grace shown on that side as well.
I mean, I could not be [emotion in voice] more proud of them for all of the years that they have spent pouring their hearts into ministering to families across this great nation and world and to share the power of Christ and how He can work in our hearts if we but let Him. It is truly admirable. I am honored that they’re my parents.
Laura: I think the word I would say is “faithfulness” as Dad has led FamilyLife but, also, led FamilyLife Today with you, Bob. I think that’s a full-time job as well—so to prep and to receive all these amazing authors and set those people up to win and to highlight who they are, as people—just faithful in that way is amazing. I think that’s just part of who my parents are. They really want people to win, and I think that’s what they’ve done with FamilyLife. They want marriages to win; and they want marriages to succeed for the couples but, also, for the families and the children. So I think faithfulness is a word that I would use to describe this ending of their time on FamilyLife Today. [Emotion in voice] I keep telling my little boy, “I can’t wait for you to listen to Papa on the radio, because he has so many wonderful things to say.”
It’s just amazing—the ways that he has been faithful to what God has called him to do with his life and to take steps of blind faith in a lot of ways too. It’s been so fun to watch that season—this 26 years—and sad, in a lot of ways, to see it end. I know that it’s for the best, and it’s what God is calling them to. We’re excited, as Samuel said, for the next season of what FamilyLife Today is going to look like.
Bob: You guys probably aren’t aware of this—but on November 11 and November 12, 1992—those were Days Three and Four for FamilyLife Today—the message that we aired those two days was a message from your dad about honoring your parents and the power of giving your parents a tribute. I think it’s kind of fitting and full-circle for you to be on the other side of that—here, 26 years later—and Dennis, to hear words of affirmation and words of belief from your kids.
Dennis: Yes; it’s sweet.
Barbara: Very sweet.
Dennis: Very sweet.
Dennis: Well—[Laughter]—how do you respond to that except, “Thank you”?
Dennis: What a privilege. I just know that Jesus Christ can take a broken vessel and, hopefully, the light can shine through the cracks in the vessel to make an impact in the world. Who we have been laboring for in recent years and who we will labor for in the coming years are your children and your children’s children, because the generations to come need to know. They need to know about Jesus Christ and what the Bible talks about—what success in life looks like.
Barbara: And that’s really what we’ve been about. We didn’t talk about the generations as much in 1992 when we started the broadcast, but we were living it; we were thinking about it, day in and day out: “How do we pass on our faith to our kids? How do we help them see that the only way to live that makes sense is in complete surrender to Jesus Christ?”
It’s a great joy beyond words to know that our children—you three who are here—but your other three siblings, who are not here, all are following Christ. You’re all trying to figure out what that looks like / what God wants for you. That is the great hope that we have—is that following Him, He will lead; He will guide; He will change our broken, sinful natures; and He will redeem all that we mess up. Your dad and I have great hope for all of you and for all of your kids, because you’ve made the right decision about Jesus. It starts there, and everything comes from there.
Bob: Guys, thanks for reaching out. Thanks for being a part of today’s program.
Rebekah: Oh, of course. Thanks for having us!
Samuel: Love you, Mom and Dad.
Barbara: Love you too!
Rebekah: Love you; love you!
Bob: See you later.
[End of Family Phone Conversations]
Bob: You know, I know there are listeners, who are wondering as they listen to this coming transition: “Why step away? Why not just keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last 26 ½ years?”
Dennis: Well, Barbara and I talked about this for years. In fact, I think somewhere—maybe 20 years ago—we talked about succession and how we saw us finishing the race, here, at FamilyLife and FamilyLife Today. My first step was to form a Board of Directors that would be empowered to help with the succession issue and to pick the right leader, going forward. That was over a decade ago that we did that. I told the Board when we formed—I said, “By the time I finish my 70th year on the planet, I want to obey what God has for me to do at that point and run the race well; but I think we need to pass this on to a younger man/a younger couple, who can give leadership to FamilyLife and FamilyLife Today, going forward.
Bob: You were thinking strategically for the mission that this transition needed to happen while you were still vibrant and had something to offer rather than waiting until you were older; right?
Dennis: I just didn’t want to have to wait around here and have somebody pry my fingers off the microphone; [Laughter] because I was slobbering, and wasn’t make sense, and have them say, “You know, it would have been much better if you’d gone off ten years ago.” I would much rather finish—hopefully, as we are finishing here—doing some of our very best radio and FamilyLife making some of its greatest inroads in building marriages and families, not only here in America, but around the world.
Bob: Barbara, as you think about transition, which has been in the process—a year ago Dennis transitioned from being President of FamilyLife / now the radio transition—are you looking forward to having a little extra time?—or are you feeling a sense of loss?—or is there some of both of that?
Barbara: There have been some days of loss in the last year; because we have been FamilyLife, in many ways, over the last 40 years. Actually, that sort of surprised us more than we expected it would. But accompanied with those days of feeling loss have been days of expectancy—days when we are beginning to realize that there are days coming that will be freer / that will be new and different than the ones we’ve had in the past. I think Dennis and I are both looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to seeing what God will do.
In fact, I just was reading some old notes that I took about a year ago in a journal. Someone once said to us, “I think God is going to do amazing things for you in the future.” When I re-read that this morning, I thought: “You know, Lord, there is much to anticipate and much to look forward to; because You are alive, and You are at work, and we’re going to team up with You just as we always have in the past. We’re going to continue to do that.” So we should be expectant, and we are.
Bob: We had a friend of yours, a FamilyLife Today listener from Florida, who called in to offer some thoughts about how God’s used FamilyLife Today in her life. You know her—her name’s Kristy.
Barbara: I do know her. Yes; Kristy’s sweet.
Bob: Here’s her phone call.
Kristy: Hi! This is Kristy Hirko, down in sunny St. Augustine, Florida. I just wanted to let you know that we love the writing from Barbara Rainey and the daily radio show from Dennis Rainey. It’s so life-giving to Andy and I. Andy’s a pastor; and without FamilyLife, I think we would have quit ministry altogether. We’ve been to Weekend to Remember® three times; we have done Passport2Purity® with our daughters; we are interwoven into everything that FamilyLife does. I feel like Andy and I are constantly outsourcing FamilyLife radio show material to our congregation. Here’s just one example.
Earlier in December, Andy officiated a funeral [for] a man who took his own life. He left behind a gorgeous wife and two little boys. When I found out about the funeral, I immediately recalled a radio show, where Dennis talked about suicide. Andy and I sat down and the tools that we unpacked better helped us to minister to the family in crisis.
Moreover, we have watched, from a distance, the succession of David Robbins. I respect the way the transition is being handled. From a distance, it looks like a unified front. Andy and I are praying for the Robbins family as we are in it with them and co-laboring for them. We’re so proud of you guys. We’re so proud of Barbara and Dennis Rainey. I think I am the number-one Florida fan for Ever Thine Home®. God bless you; God bless you; God bless you. Please keep going; please keep doing it. Your work is not in vain. We love you from World Golf Village.
[End of Phone Conversation]
Barbara: That’s so sweet. She is wonderful.
Bob: And that’s the plan; isn’t it?—to keep going, and going, and going?
Dennis: Yes; and walk by faith. I mean, this has been a fresh adventure for Barbara and me. Basically, God didn’t speak audibly to us; but He said, in essence, “Did you know what you were doing in 1976 when you started this outfit?”—answer?
Barbara: “No, Lord; we did not.” [Laughter]
Dennis: No! We were 28 years old—been married 4 or 5 years—and that we were entrusted with giving leadership to this organization is baffling, even now, looking back. It was like God says, “Well, if you could trust Me back then, can you trust Me now?” That’s what we’re doing.
I think we have grabbed a passion, here in recent months, just around calling families to experience God personally: “What’s He done in your life today? What’d He do yesterday?”—and to share that with your kids and to be part of a generational relay, handing off your faith—a vibrant faith/a living faith—where Jesus Christ is not some ancient figure, but He’s the One who created a billion galaxies—He’s alive; He defeated death! He’s more relevant today than He’s ever been in all of history.
Bob: Kristy mentioned the leadership transition to David Robbins. David’s actually here and has a few things he wants to share with you guys about this transition. David, I’ll turn things over to you.
David: Well, it has been the humbling opportunity of a lifetime to be able to step in and to step into a situation that you guys created. You’re the ones who really mapped this out and have been so proactive. You know, most people say any type of founder transition—it usually—the reality is it just depends upon the founder. The maturity and closeness to Jesus that you guys have continually displayed, over and over—Meg and I have experienced that firsthand and are inspired by getting to walk, side by side, with you guys through this transition.
For Meg and me, when it comes to getting a firsthand glimpse of your legacy and the impact you’ve had in people’s lives—it started in our lives, of being ministered to by you through the years—but we’ve had our fair share of being together and traveling together. It started by an eight-city tour, where we got on planes and got to visit with different people. I remember seeing the lines line up; and over this year, seeing the comments come in, and just the impact that you guys have had and continue to have in people’s lives:
the marriages that have been restored;
the men that have been called to step up and have done so;
the women who have truth in their home and are proclaiming it to their kids;
the people who say: “I’ve raised my kids with you. I can’t imagine raising my kids
without the Raineys”;
the people who are making a difference in other people’s lives in their homes—people that would never step foot into church—but because you have called them up to serve the Kingdom and to be ambassadors of Jesus to the homes around them;
and mostly, people that have come to know Jesus—people that have encountered Him.
David: You have journeyed with people for over 40 years and some 26 years on radio and have poured your life into them. Getting to see, firsthand, email replies or to see people look you in the eyes, weeping, talking about the impact you’ve had—it is an amazing legacy that we are so grateful to get to continue.
Dennis: Well, the privilege has been ours. As I’ve said many times with the staff, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could ever ask or think, to Him be the glory indeed.” I know I speak for Barbara—
Barbara: Amen; I agree.
Dennis: —about that.
Bob: Well, and I know I speak for our listeners in saying: “How grateful all of us are for the way you have marked our lives, and our marriages, and our families for decades now. We appreciate you.”
In fact, I’ll let our listeners know—on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com there’s more information about the transition, including a nice video that you’ve put together that outlines where we’re going and talks about your time on radio. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the transition that’s happening, here, at FamilyLife Today. There’s a two-CD set that we’re making available to anyone who’d like it. It covers the 40-plus-year history of this ministry, all the way back to the beginning in 1976, when you guys helped start this ministry.
You can request those two CDs; we’d love to send copies of them to you. Just give us an address and we’ll ship those out to you. You can request them when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to ask for the two-CD set on the history of FamilyLife Today—call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
And then, one of the things I’ve heard you say, over the years, is just how grateful you are for the Legacy Partners and the donors who have partnered with us to extend the reach of FamilyLife to help us effectively develop godly marriages and families that change the world, one home at a time. I hope those friends will stay with us, moving forward. The mission is not changing. Even if the on-air voice is changing, we’re still about the same thing. So thanks for your donations in the past; and going forward, you can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, we appreciate your partnership in this ongoing ministry.
Now, tomorrow, I know you have some final thoughts to share with our listeners. We’ll do that as we wrap things up tomorrow. I hope our listeners can be with us for all of that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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