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.
At the time I knew very little about Wee Min’s homeland. I quickly learned that Malaysia is a country with a land mass about half the size of Texas and home to the world’s tallest twin towers. Some 27 million people live in what is a nation separated by the South China sea. I discovered that while Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, about 9% of the country are Christian believers. If, however, a Christian (or other non-Muslim) were to marry a Muslim, the law of the land requires them to renounce their faith and convert to become a Muslim.
Following the Focus tradition of only going into a country when we are invited by nationals who, like us, support the idea of strong families, we began the process of launching Focus Malaysia. That was ten years ago.
Since that initial launch, I’ve come to more fully appreciate this simple fact: all families wrestle with the same basic issues of marriage and parenting regardless of their culture or continent. Put another way, raising a child during his “terrible twos,” teaching a teen to make wise entertainment choices, or making time for romance is a challenge all parents face, regardless of their address.
Last weekend I returned from an amazing trip to celebrate what God has done through the vision of Wee Min in Malaysia over the last decade. True, I had to fly thirty hours to be there – but it was worth every minute. Not only did I have the privilege of sharing about the importance of families at the banquet, I had the opportunity to see first hand some of the creative ways they are reaching out to husbands, wives, mom’s and dad’s in their country.
Take, for example, the airing of our Focus on the Family Commentary.
Thanks to Focus Malaysia’s Director Benny Kong (pictured with me) and the out-of-the-box thinking of his team, every grocery store in Malaysia broadcasts Dr. Dobson’s commentary as shoppers browse the aisles. Focus Malaysia also arranged to have our broadcast piped into every Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, too. One woman wrote their office and said, “I would shop only once a week at the local store. But now I go three or four times a week just to hear Dr. Dobson talk about family issues. It helped me learn how to be a better parent.”
It’s funny what can be accomplished with a little imagination. Well done, Focus Malaysia!