God's faithfulness over 40 years is worth celebrating. We depend on His continued favor to continue to reach families one home at a time.
God's faithfulness over 40 years is worth celebrating. We depend on His continued favor to continue to reach families one home at a time.
Bob: If you’ve ever wanted to share the good news about Jesus with friends or co-workers, a great place to start is by talking about family. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: Family is an international language. It is a great way to get into somebody’s home and somebody’s heart to help them be effective—as a man, as a woman, as a husband, as a wife, as a dad, as a mother, as a grandparent. Family is a great way to present the teachings of Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Him.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Over the last 40 years, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to people about their marriages / about their families. Along the way, we’ve seen tens of thousands of those folks surrender their lives to Jesus. We’ll hear more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You’re going to need a seatbelt to listen today because we’re going to be moving pretty fast. We’re going to look back at some of the highlights of how we’ve seen God at work in the ministry of FamilyLife over the last 20 years.
We’ve been looking, all this week, at the past 40 years. Our staff, this week, has been meeting to celebrate 40 years of ministry. We just wanted to take some time, here on FamilyLife Today,and join that celebration. Dennis, we’ve looked at the origins / how things got started; we’ve looked at the Weekend to Remember®; the writing ministry that began; the radio ministry; outreach to other countries.
When FamilyLife Today went on the air in November of 1992, it was the beginning / it was a catalytic moment for the ministry.
Dennis: It really was. It moved everything forward at a faster clip and a broader clip.
It did everything we hoped it would do and more. One of the things we found out about FamilyLife Today is our listeners wanted what we talked about. We laughed about this earlier—but one of the things we created—we didn’t have when we offered it / we literally were taping days in advance of when the broadcast was aired.
Bob: You had done a message on honoring your parents. We thought, “We really should make available a guide to how to write a tribute to your parents.” So we had on the air and say, “We’ve got this guide,”—we just didn’t have it yet / we hadn’t written it yet. [Laughter] People were calling and they were saying, “I want that guide.” We said, “Well, it’s going to take about four weeks to get it to you.” They said, “Well, if I paid for FedEx, could I get it here this week?” We said, “No.”
Dennis: Because it was close to Christmas and people wanted to write tributes to their parents.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: I can’t remember—was Barbara on that broadcast where we talked about tributes?
Bob: She was not on that broadcast. Barbara, you were on Day One of FamilyLife Today—
Bob: —and a couple of times that first week we were on; but you still had six kids at home.
Barbara: I did! [Laughter]
Bob: That was taking pretty much all of your time at that point.
Barbara: Yes; we were full-time with kids in ’92. So my time to be on the radio was a lot slimmer—
Bob: It was later.
Barbara: —a lot slimmer!
Dennis: Then, one of the next things we offered was a basket full of eggs. A grandmother by the name of Barbara Craft, who’s a very good friend, came into our studio with a basketful of—what?—a couple dozen eggs?
Bob: She had about 25 colored plastic eggs, and she’d done this all on her own. I think she’d heard about the idea from somebody else; but each of her 25 eggs had a different symbol inside that represented something about the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. She told about how she used this in her neighborhood and shared the story of Easter with neighborhood kids using this tool.
Dennis: And she would actually take a basket next door to a neighbor and give them the basket, along with a list of what all the objects inside the eggs represented around the story of Easter.
Bob: So we talked about it. We said: “You know, if we’re going to share this story with our listeners, they’re going to want that list. They’re going to want to make their own egg basket.” And then they said: “Well, maybe, they would want a pre-made set. What if we made a few sets of these? We’ll just see if folks would want to buy a set of eggs and not have to create their own.”
Dennis: Then we talked about how a carton of eggs has twelve—
Bob: We were a little surprised about the response when we shared Barbara’s story on the radio.
Dennis: It’s one of the great stories in FamilyLife’s history. Our kids—Barbara and I, along with—what?—a dozen parents and their kids—got together at our children’s junior high. We had big boxes of different colored eggs. One was four feet high and it had, I think, 3,000 yellow eggs in it—another one was pink, another one was blue, and white, and so forth.
We spent all day laboring over those eggs—putting a rock in one, nails in another, and on and on, into cartons of eggs. At the end of the day, we gathered around all 3,000 dozen of those eggs and we prayed over them: “Oh, Lord God, would You please make sure these don’t end up in our warehouse for the next 25 years?”
Bob: As it turned out, the first day we talked about this on the radio, we had people calling from all over the country. I think we sold out of those 3,000 the very first day. By the end of the week, we had orders for an additional 7,000. We scrambled, buying as many plastic eggs as we could and putting—
Dennis: No pun intended! [Laughter]
Bob: Our eggs got scrambled as we went to work. [Laughter] That’s how Resurrection Eggs® began. Today, more than a million—
Dennis: It’s 1.5 million dozen—
—I think that is only in English. These have been translated into Russian, as you’d expect they would / also into Spanish. We estimate, conservatively—because they’ve been used in Sunday school classes, and Christian schools, and in secular schools to tell the story of Easter—we figure, conservatively, there have been 30,000,000 children hear the story of Easter—and the story of Jesus Christ and the gospel—as a result of that little illustration.
Bob: It was a few years after that that we had been observing what was going on with men’s ministry around the country. As the Promise Keepers movement had just been exploding in stadiums all across the country, you got the idea, Dennis, that we should do an event like Promise Keepers—but do it for couples. We rented some basketball arenas and started holding the I Still Do® one-day marriage events in cities all across the country.
Dennis: We had our first one, I believe, Bob, in San Diego. We had about 6,700 people at this event that celebrated the marriage promise: “I Still Do.” At the end of the event—not only did we celebrate it all day with messages from great speakers and singing / world-class singing—but we had couples stand and recite their vows. As you say, “If we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America on multiple occasions, we should pledge allegiance, multiple times, to the most important person, humanly speaking, we ever make a commitment to—that’s our spouse.”
And I guess we had somewhere, Bob, in excess of 435,000 people attend those I Still Do events. As they left those arenas—and I’ll never forget the one that we sold out in Washington, DC / over 18,000 walked out of there—and they were given a marriage covenant.
Some of those marriage covenants have been signed and are hanging up in homes even today. I have seen them, and they’re a great statement of couples’ promises to one another. It’s something that I hope their kids will fight over when those couples pass on and move to heaven.
Bob: When you think back on other highlights from the last 20 years, I know one of them was when we took content that you had been teaching to sixth graders in a local church for years, and we created a weekend getaway for parents called Passport2Purity®, designed to help moms and dads get their sons and daughters ready for adolescence.
Dennis: Barbara and I had taught a sixth-grade Sunday school class for eleven years—550 kids. We actually had parents changing churches to get their kids in that class. I taught it like it was a college class—I just took those kids into the grittiest issues they were going to face in adolescence and did my best, as a Sunday school teacher, to prepare them for the game day of adolescence.
We put it in this kit, not knowing how it would be used. Now, more than 15 years later, more than a quarter of a million kids have been through Passport2Purity—girls with their mothers / boys with their fathers. Just yesterday, I ran into a young lady, 14 years old, who had been through Passport2Purity with her mom two years ago. I said, “Do you recognize this voice?” She kind of dropped her head and smiled.
What we want to do, still, with Passport2Purity—because this thing is still going to a lot of places, not only here in America, but around the world—is we want to make parents the heroes so that, when kids go through difficult times during adolescence, they’ll have access to their mom or dad because they will have already had some intimate conversations with them.
Bob: Barbara, in one of the sessions in Passport2Purity, you have the opportunity to talk to girls and their moms about the birds and the bees and the changes in a young woman’s body.
It’s pretty straight-forward. It’s not inappropriate at all, but it’s pretty candid.
Barbara: Yes. I think that’s the reason that this has been so successful because we say the things that moms and dads need to say, but that are sometimes hard to say to your kids. Passport2Purity provides that real transparent and real honest conversation that moms and dads need to have about those issues of life. Then, they can take their cue from us. We can be the ones who lead out with the words that are unfamiliar and that are hard to talk about. I think that’s a lot of the reason why it works so well.
Bob: Dennis, you talked about wanting the moms and dads to be the heroes with Passport2Purity. We’ve gone on to develop a number or resources, where the goal was to put a tool in the hand of somebody who has passion and vision for marriages and families, and just set those people up to be involved in doing significant ministry.
Dennis: We have, and we’ve done that globally. FamilyLife is now in 109 countries of the world. I would say, in almost all of those countries, FamilyLife is led by a national—by a couple of that country and from that country. Our broadcast / this broadcast is heard 700 times a day in multiple countries around the world—I think it’s close to three dozen.
Bob: Vida en Familia Hoy.
Dennis: Yes; and the joke is—my worst grade in school was Spanish. [Laughter] Yet, I’m speaking to maybe millions of Spanish-speaking families. It’s really kind of God’s sense of humor in the whole matter.
Another way we’ve put tools in the hands of people is through our ministry to orphans, called Hope for Orphans.
Then, ultimately, we gathered together the leaders of orphan care, foster care, and adoption ministries from all over the world and brought them here to Little Rock for the first-ever meeting of ministries of faith—Christian ministries—that have been addressing the needs of orphans. They had never met together in the history of Christian adoption. There were 39 ministries here at that first meeting a dozen years ago.
We facilitated that—we basically said: “Check your egos and your logos at the door. The needs of more than 150,000,000 orphans globally demand that we, as Christians, deny ourselves and link arms together and share our best practices with one another and call the church to address the needs of orphans.”
So that first meeting occurred. Fast forward a dozen years, and we’ve had gatherings now of more than three dozen countries coming together—2,600 people last year in Nashville, who came together to talk about foster care and adoption.
Hundreds of organizations and churches—doing what we just said we wanted them to do—link arms together and figure out: “How do we address the needs of so many orphans globally and call the Christian community—call laymen and women—to start orphan care ministries, foster care ministries, adoption ministries in their local church?”
Bob: And, today, we’re looking at another underserved group of people in our country, and that’s people who are in blended marriages / stepfamilies. Ron Deal has joined with us, here at FamilyLife—he’s giving leadership to this area. We’re hoping to help provide biblical hope and help to couples, who are saying: “We want this marriage to work. We want our family to be strong, and to thrive, and to reflect God’s glory.” That’s what we’re trying to do through the Blended Family Ministry of FamilyLife.
Dennis: Yes; and to do that—I just want to underscore—we asked the number-one guy in the country, Ron Deal, to come and give leadership to this. I think the best is yet to be in this ministry. I think the church does not know how to address the needs of blended families / stepfamilies. Ron has found a way to have that ministry that really encourages blended families in their unique challenges that they’re facing.
Bob: You two, together [Dennis and Barbara], were at an event—I think it was one of our Weekend to Remember events—in Portland, Maine, a number of years ago when God birthed a vision for a new resource—a way to reach more people than we could ever reach during our Weekend to Remember getaway. Do you remember what I’m talking about?
Barbara: Yes; I do remember being there. We had lunch—I think it was with a group of the volunteers who brought the Weekend to Remember to Portland, Maine. They said, “We’ve got all these couples who want to come, but it’s too far to get to Portland from other places in the state of Maine.”
They said, “We would love for you to give us this material / this conference and the content in a format that would make it easy for us to take it to all these small towns around the whole state of Maine.”
That was the beginning of the idea for The Art of Marriage® to have the conference material / the marriage material in a format that could be used by anybody, in any location, anywhere.
Dennis: And so we went to Cecil B. Lepine. [Laughter]
Barbara: We did.
Dennis: We did—and said, “You’ve never created a full-length motion picture film, and we don’t want you to.” [Laughter]
Barbara: “But we know you can do this!”
Dennis: “We know you can do this. We want you to create a really edgy, fresh, biblically-centered event that can be hosted by lay couples or can be hosted by a couple, who are leading a small group. Do it in a way that’s transferable.” So Bob did this. He went off and created it over a period of six, eight /twelve months—
Dennis: —and he came back. I remember the first time I heard the music and saw the video—I began to weep because I thought: “God is in this! He is going to use this to touch millions!” You know what? I believe He already has touched millions. We do know that we’re now approaching three-fourths of a million people who have now seen this, here in America and around the world. I have to believe it’s much more than that because it’s being shown in all kinds of places and ways that we’ll never know anything about.
Bob: In fact, it has been dubbed into Spanish / it has been closed-captioned in Mandarin.
Dennis: And it’s also being translated into Russian.
Bob: Yes; so there’s just a great opportunity for this tool to be used. The only thing it needs is a husband and wife in a local neighborhood to say: “Okay, we’ll host this. We can get up and say, ‘Let’s watch Session One,’ and press play on the DVD player, and watch The Art of Marriage together.”
Dennis: And in the process of doing this, Bob, we’ve created a new generation of hosted events that has now spilled over into training men and equipping them to know how to step up, as men.
Bob: We took your Stepping Up book—we made a video series out of that. It’s been viewed by guys all across the country and around the world. Again, we’re getting great response back. In fact, the interesting thing about Stepping Up® is that it’s found its way into prisons; and it’s found its way into homeless shelters. It is re-orienting—actually it’s not reorienting—it’s orienting—
Bob: —men who never got a picture of what manhood should be. It’s giving them a picture they’ve never had before.
Dennis: Yes. I remember this video we shot of the very first prison group that we took through Stepping Up. This young man stood up—25 years old—and he said, “Some of you are not going to understand what I’m about to say.” He said, “I’m glad I’m here / I’m glad I’m in prison because it was in prison that I finally found out what a real man is and what a real man does.”
You could see by the look on his face it had been an “A-ha!” event in his life—to go through this 10-week series and to grapple with, “What is a man as God designed him?”
Bob: And then, in recent years, after you said, “Good bye,” to your last child at home, all of a sudden, we had a new creative force at work, here at FamilyLife.
Dennis: Yes. She’d always been at work, but she’d been at work primarily with our family. Barbara finally got a chance to put some feet to her dreams and what she’d been longing to do for a number of years.
Barbara: And it really has been a privilege that God has given me to create what is now called Ever Thine Home®, which is a whole line of products and resources for women to use during holidays at home—to make Christmas about Jesus / to make Easter a more important event in a family’s life—
—and to help moms and dads teach their kids, biblically, around the different holidays of the year and throughout the year as well.
Dennis: She has taken her theology and her training in the Bible and her artistic and creative abilities, and she’s linked them together to give moms and dads practical ways they can pass on the reality of the great Christian holidays of the faith—and do it in a way that’s beautiful / that is transferable. I’m just really proud of her for what she’s done there.
You know, in spite of all the things that we have accomplished, I honestly believe—for FamilyLife, the best is yet to be. It’s kind of a: “For such a time of this.” I think FamilyLife has been raised up by God. I think the platform of ministries that we have—the conferences, the radio, the digital presence, Ever Thine Home, the video resources, the small group resources, the Blended Family—
—I think the suite of ministries, and outreaches, and resources, and tools that we’ve talked about today—I think they —are going to be used by our children’s children, into the future.
Bob: They’ll be updated and refreshed—we’ve done that throughout the years—but I think the themes stay the same, year in and year out.
Dennis: Yes; and we’re going to continue to expand on our strengths, like the Weekend to Remember—update that—and create something that is a fresher/newer experience for the next generation.
Bob: We’re continuing to explore digital frontiers and opportunities that are available online via apps—just new ways of reaching people and communicating God’s plan for marriage and family.
Barbara: And we’re also exploring ideas for ways that we can better encourage, and help, and minster to women / and wives and single women, for that matter, too. We want to make a big impact on the lives of women, who are the majority of our listeners.
Dennis: That’s the heart of Barbara, and also several other women, and the leadership of FamilyLife—
—to do a better job of ministering to well over 50 percent of our audience.
Whatever we have, we want to take it and share it with the world because family is an international language. It’s a way to get in a culture, and a way to get into somebody’s home / somebody’s heart to help them be effective—as a man, as a woman, as a husband, as a wife, as a dad, as a mother, as a grandparent.
Family is a great way to present the teachings of Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Him. As I look back over FamilyLife, I think of Ephesians, Chapter 3, verse 20: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
You know, you stop and think about the first 40 years of this ministry, and all that has happened over those four decades; and what excites me, Dennis, is to think about the next four decades—
Bob: —because what’s ahead for us—I mean, I’m just thinking about how technology has changed / about the pathways that have opened up—
Bob: —things like the app that we’ve just developed that’s available for your phone or for your tablet, whether it’s iOS or Android—you can download it from the app store. It gives you access to the radio program each day and to a back-catalog of programs. I think about our website, and what’s available there. The opportunity for us to reach even more people around the globe in the years to come—that’s exciting!
Bob: We need to take a minute here, as we’re wrapping things up for this week, and just say, “Thank you,” to the people who have made all that we do, here at FamilyLife, possible through your financial support of this ministry.
You have been the partners who have come alongside us and said: “This ministry is important. What you’re doing matters.” You have been the wind beneath our wings, and we’re grateful for your financial support through the years. We’re grateful for those of you who, this week, have been getting in touch with us and saying, “Happy 40th anniversary,” and making an anniversary donation in support of the ministry. We thank you for your continued support of FamilyLife Today.
I’ll just mention—if you’d like to make an online donation, it’s easy to do. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call to make a donation at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend.
And I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to talk about that time in life when you transition into the empty nest. II know some of you are thinking, “That just seems like it is forever before we’ll ever get there.” Well, trust me!—the days are long, but the years are short. You want to be ready for when that transition comes. We’ll hear from Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates on Monday. I hope you can be here for 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 Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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