On a wall of our offices at Focus on the Family we have a Bible verse prominently posted. It reads:
“All the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.” – 2 Chronicles 29:36
That verse comes to mind every December when our public relations team compiles a news release of the year’s highlights.
It’s amazing to look back and realize what God has accomplished for His glory and for the benefit of families… all “quickly,” in a year.
I want to share some of those highlights with you today. I’ve already shared some of these things with you as-they-happened – but it’s quite encouraging to see them all listed in one place. I think you’ll share in my appreciation.
These things are thanks to our ministry friends who support us through prayers and gifts. We’re wrapping up a special match campaign that will DOUBLE year-end gifts we receive before tomorrow, Dec. 31.
Teaching through storytelling
Focus released its first-ever theatrical release, “Irreplaceable,” in May. The documentary attracted more than 130,000 people in over 700 theaters, prompting encore showings. The response on social media was overwhelmingly positive. We went on to release a follow-up small group DVD curriculum, “The Family Project.” We’re now working on releasing our second film, “The Drop Box,” in select cinemas nationwide on March 3, 4 and 5, 2015.
Equipping pastors to address mental illness
A groundbreaking 2014 study co-sponsored by Focus and carried out by LifeWay Research found that people with mental illness turn first to the church for help. In response, we introduced a collection of resources designed to help equip pastors and church leaders better minister to those with mental illness, including “Serving Those with Mental Illness,” a free pastor’s guide that offers practical guidance for bringing hope to those who are hurting in this area as well as a two-part broadcast, “How Mental Illness Impacts Families.”
Saving marriages in crisis
Focus on the Family’s National Institute of Marriage specializes in providing couples on the brink of divorce with help that can heal their marriage through focused, multiday intensives at the Branson Retreat Center. Research shows 84 percent of the couples who participate in NIM’s marriage intensive program are still together two years later.
This year, we expanded Focus’ NIM through the construction of five additional cottages for couples.
Empowering the Youngest Christians
Focus’ Day of Dialogue free speech and religious freedom initiative launched “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on Oct. 16. The day was a resounding success highlighted by media outlets like The Washington Post and Huffington Post. Through this event, one student came to faith in Jesus Christ.
Preparing today’s young adults for marriage
Focus’ Boundless ministry to single young adults hosted Pursuit 2014 – its first-ever weekend event – on the Focus on the Family campus. The event drew more than 400 attendees from 43 states and six countries and enjoyed local media coverage.
Protecting life and creating families
This year, Focus celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Option Ultrasound program, which helps life-affirming pregnancy medical clinics give women at-risk for abortion a glimpse into the life in their womb. The program awarded 33 grants in 2014: 11 ultrasound machines, 12 sonography trainings, seven ultrasound services enhancement grants and three medical conversion grants to qualified pregnancy medical clinics. Focus also supplied more than $385,000 worth of educational resources to more than 1,000 pregnancy centers to assist in client counseling.
Reaching families through radio
Our daily broadcast reaches 2.5 million listeners weekly. One example of the power of Focus radio program was seen with our Aug. 22 broadcast, “Praying for Our Christian Family in Iraq.” It addressed the persecution of Christians in Iraq by ISIS, and raised more than $450,000 from constituents to support the relief efforts of Focus on the Family’s Middle East office.
A voice in the culture
Focus on the Family’s Thriving Values team equipped Christians with more than a dozen topical and time-sensitive kits, each filled with sound and biblically based analysis to navigate an increasingly hostile culture. More than 70,000 people downloaded at least one of the 13 kits.
In the past year…
- Focus’ marriage efforts have helped 140,000 singles prepare for marriage and 810,000 couples build stronger marriages.
- Focus has helped save 130,000 marriages – that’s about one marriage about every four minutes.
- Focus’ parenting initiatives have strengthened 660,000 parents and helped 150,000 families work through a parenting crisis this year.
- Focus’ licensed professional counselors have provided counseling and advice to more than 34,000 people this year, with marriage and conflict resolution as the top issues.
- 4 million families say Focus inspired them to transform the culture through civic engagement.
- Focus’ main Facebook page reached 2 million fans.
So many wonderful things, and so many families and individuals touched. Thank you for all of you who have supported us through your prayers and gifts.
As grateful as I am for everything God has done this year, I can’t wait to see what He does in 2015!