When Dr. Dobson recorded his first 15-minute radio broadcast some thirty years ago, he had a hunch there might be an audience in the U.S. for insight into marriage and parenting issues. Never in his wildest dreams did he envision a day when his advice would be broadcast around the world. Today, Focus on the Family is heard from Alabama to Albania, California to the Congo, and New Jersey to Papua New Guinea. In fact, some version of a Focus program is heard in 149 countries in 26 languages!
One week ago, our staff at Focus on the Family gathered together for a time of corporate prayer. Like many Christian ministries, we’ve experienced a dip in financial support from our friends and partners due to these tough economic times. We happen to be about $5 million behind the budget right now. However, we did not gather to weep and wring our hands in fear, perplexed by our circumstances. Why would we? Whether in good times or when times get tough, our only hope is found in the Lord.
I’ve read that disagreements over money–how it’s earned, spent, saved, and invested–is the top cause of stress in marriage. Whether or not financial issues are at the top of your list, these tough economic times are enough to make anyone’s head spin. Between trying to invest wisely with the volatility of the stock market, the fear of a pay cut or job loss, and questions over how to reduce debt, it’s no wonder we’re receiving so many calls from families seeking wise counsel.
Jean and I were married August 24, 1986. We started with a bang—with lots of travel, the thrill of being newlyweds, and the dreams of spending a lifetime together. While I cannot pinpoint with any accuracy the date when we reached rock bottom, the dark clouds moved in sometime during our second year of marriage. I remember that night all too well. I had stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth as we readied ourselves for bed.
I’ve been working at Focus on the Family since March of 1989. At the time I joined the staff, there were some 600+ employees. In order to meet the needs, challenges, and opportunities facing families around the world, we’ve grown to more than 1,200 dedicated team members. As Dr. Dobson has said numerous times, he never dreamed thirty years ago that his weekly 15-minute radio broadcast entitled, Let’s Get Acquainted would have flourished in such extraordinary ways today.
If you’re familiar with my story as told in FINDING HOME, you know my dad did a lot of things wrong. Dad had an ongoing struggle with alcohol, gambling and horse betting. His poor choices damaged my parents’ marriage to the point where he and Mom divorced when I was five. After the divorce, he didn’t provide any child support so Mom had to work three jobs just to keep the lights on and food on the table.
The last time I went to a NASCAR race, I was something like 14 years old. That’s back when NASCAR legend Richard “The King” Petty was burning up the tracks. Ten days ago, I was invited by Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) to witness the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race XXIV at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.. I had no idea I’d get to watch the 100 laps of heart-stopping action from the best seat in the house–on the infield!
Has this happened to you?
It’s date night and you decide to see a movie. You’re standing in the ticket line tempted to see the movie everyone is talking about. You notice the larger-than-life posters swinging from the ceiling in the lobby heralding its release. Sure look interesting. But you remain uncertain. Far too often you’ve been disappointed by a friend’s recommendation. There’s been too much violence . . . more profanity than a gangsta rap record .
You probably already know that Tony Dungy was the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl championship. What you may not know is that he’s been a big fan of the Focus on the Family broadcast. While coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1981 to 1989, Tony listened to our broadcast every day during his drive time to work. Recently, Tony was in the studio sharing with Dr. Dobson the impact that those days listening in the car had on him and his wife as they raised their children.
I was heading up the International Division at Focus on the Family when we were contacted by Mr. Wee Min Lee, a listener in Malaysia. That wasn’t particularly unusual since the Focus broadcast is heard around the world. This particular businessman, however, had a deep passion to strengthen families in his country and wanted to know what he could do to make our resources more readily available. He was alarmed over the deterioration of the family unit – especially between the practice of polygamous marriages, poor parenting skills, and an alarming increase in juvenile crime in his nation.