Colorado Springs, Colo. – Focus on the Family expanded its outreach in 2014 through a big screen release, collaborative efforts to help people in crisis and a grassroots movement to impact the culture. All together, the year’s activities touched millions of lives.
"We’re working hard to accomplish our calling to help families thrive," said Focus President Jim Daly. "Through God’s grace, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of marriages saved and families strengthened through our ongoing efforts. And our new initiatives have only deepened our ability to make a positive difference in people’s lives. We’re grateful for all God’s done this year – and this makes us eagerly anticipate 2015 all the more."
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 across the United States and Canada, prompting encore showings in many markets. The response on social media was overwhelmingly positive, with viewers eager to engage in conversations on faith and family through the film’s follow-up small group DVD curriculum "The Family Project."
"Irreplaceable" was the first in Focus’ Reclamation Series of documentaries that examine social issues through the lens of faith and family. The ministry is gearing up to release the second film, "The Drop Box," in select cinemas nationwide on March 3, 4 and 5, 2015.
"The Drop Box" tells the story of Pastor Lee Jong-Rak’s work to rescue newborn babies who might otherwise be abandoned on the streets of Seoul, South Korea. So far more than 500 babies – many of whom have disabilities – have been left in the pastor’s "baby box." A portion of the film’s proceeds will go to support Pastor Lee’s ministry.
Other upcoming productions in the Reclamation Series include a documentary on dating in the 21st century and "Fatherless."
Equipping pastors to address mental illness
Films are just one way Focus is providing relevant answers to some of today’s toughest societal issues. The ministry is also partnering with churches to address the sensitive topic of mental health.
A groundbreaking 2014 study co-sponsored by Focus on the Family and carried out by LifeWay Research found that people with mental illness turn first to the church for help.
In response, Focus introduced a collection of resources designed to help equip pastors and church leaders better minister to those with mental illness.
Focus also aired a two-part broadcast, "How Mental Illness Impacts Families," on the topic.
Saving marriages in crisis
Focus on the Family’s National Institute of Marriage specializes in providing couples on the brink of divorce with multiday marriage intensives where they can focus solely on healing their marriage at the Branson Retreat Center. This year, Focus’ NIM completed the construction of five additional cottages for couples.
Research has shown that 84 percent of the couples who participate in NIM’s marriage intensive program are still together two years later.
Empowering the Youngest Christians
The day was a resounding success highlighted by media outlets like The Washington Post and Huffington Post.
Parents, students and church leaders shared how children were excited about having faith conversations with their friends and how one student even came to faith in Jesus Christ. All it took was helping kids realize they had a right to be open about their faith, despite the strong sense of censorship many feel at public schools.
Preparing today’s young adults for marriage
The "part conference, part meet-up" gave 20- and 30-something singles an opportunity to meet others at their life stage and learn from well-known Christian speakers such as Lisa Anderson, Valorie Burton, Emerson Eggerichs, Joy Eggerichs, Brant Hansen and Tullian Tchividjian.
The event drew more than 400 attendees from 43 states and six countries and enjoyed local media coverage.
Overall, in the past year, Focus’ marriage efforts have helped 140,000 singles prepare for marriage and 810,000 couples build stronger marriages. The group has also helped save 130,000 marriages in the last year – that’s about one marriage about every four minutes.
Helping moms and dads from the start
The impact a new baby has on a marriage is often overlooked by resources available to couples. In response, Focus introduced "Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood," a book designed to help couples keep their marriages strong during pregnancy and parenthood.
Jill (Duggar) Dillard and husband Derick of reality show "19 Kids & Counting" helped promote the book through an exclusive interview with Focus.
In April, Jim Daly’s newest book, "The Good Dad," was released. It looks at how dads can become better fathers regardless of their background or the parenting mistakes they've made. Daly was interviewed about his book on Fox News. Together with his wife Jean, Daly also released a devotional book for husbands and wives, "The Best Year of Your Marriage."
Focus is also helping parents by giving them tools to teach faith-based character lessons to their kids through the new Odyssey Adventure Club. The subscription-based offering provides members access to Adventures in Odyssey’s entire library of more than 700 episodes as well as daily devotionals, activities, crafts and articles. More than 5,800 families have already joined.
All in all, Focus’ parenting initiatives have strengthened 660,000 parents and helped 150,000 families work through a parenting crisis this year.
Protecting life and creating families
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. More than 270,000 babies have been saved from abortion since the program began.
Focus also supplied more than $385,000 worth of educational resources to more than 1,000 pregnancy centers to assist in client counseling.
Focus’ most visible orphan care outreach, its Wait No More events, helped more than 300 families initiate the adoption process through four events in 2014.
Help for those in crisis
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.
This fall, Focus joined with the North American Mission Board to offer a pastor care line for ministers in the Southern Baptist Convention. The care line gives Southern Baptist pastors their own place to receive support, whether the need is prayer or crisis counseling.
Reaching families through radio
Many people engage with Focus through its radio programming. The ministry’s flagship daily broadcast has 2.5 million listeners weekly and airs on 1,000 radio outlets daily.
This year’s top broadcasts included "Exposing the Lure of Romance and Erotica" with Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh, which dealt with the "50 Shades of Grey" phenomenon, and "Examining My Past for a Better Future" with Louie Giglio.
On Aug. 22, the broadcast, "Praying for Our Christian Family in Iraq," addressed the persecution of Christians in Iraq by ISIS and how Christians in the United States can be praying for and supporting them. The broadcast raised more than $450,000 from constituents to support the relief efforts of Focus on the Family’s Middle East office.
"The Boundless Show" podcast launched as a weekly 30-minute radio program with more than 230 radio affiliates, including Faith Radio and Bott Radio Network in October.
The Plugged In Movie Review radio feature remains a popular program for parents and is aired on more than 900 stations every week.
A voice in the culture
The culture will never remain silent on "hot-button" issues, such as same-sex marriage, sexuality and gender identity or religious freedom.
That’s why 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.
Focus on the Family’s Commit2Vote2014 campaign encouraged citizens to register to vote in the mid-term election and stand for their values.
Overall, 1.4 million families say Focus inspired them to transform the culture through civic engagement.
In 2014 the ministry’s main Facebook page reached a milestone of 2 million fans thanks in part to its compelling visual and family-help content.
To coordinate media interviews, please email Nina.Coppola@fotf.org or call 719-531-3386.