FamilyLife began in 1976, intended simply as a pre-marriage ministry for the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. Campus Crusade Founder , Bill Bright, felt it was important to provide internal support for his ministry teams who were pouring out their own lives all over the world. The success and effectiveness of the FamilyLife ministry soon led to expansion as couples outside the Campus Crusade family witnessed the positive impact on their friends’ relationships, and began to request the same type of ministry for themselves.
FamilyLife conferences were initiated in 1976 and have continued to grow to more than 2million alumni of the conferences in the USA. Now in its 45th year the ministry reaches an expanded audience of married and engaged couples, families and singles in virtually every major US city, as well as in 97 countries on six continents. Judging from the phenomenal response, the FamilyLife conferences are filling a prevalent and crucial need.
Although Campus Crusade for Christ South Africa regularly presented marriage conferences in th early years, the official FamilyLife ministry started here in 1996 after Quintus and Isolde Swanepoel had spent a year working at the headquarters of FamilyLife in Little Rock, Arkansas.
THE FUTURE OF FAMILY LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA
The message of FamilyLife is universally applicable. Strong families and biblically-based models and resources are needed in every culture of the world. Ninety-seven countries are currently known to be utilising FamilyLife resources, materials, and/or strategies.
In 1995 the Council on Families in America made this comment:
“The evidence of failure is overwhelming, the divorce revolution, by which we mean the steady displacement of a marriage culture, by a culture of divorce and unwed parenthood, has created terrible hardships for children. Indeed, it does not seem at all far-fetched to say that we as a society are simply failing to teach the next generation about the meaning, purpose, and responsibilities of marriage. If this trend continues, it will constitute nothing less than an act of cultural suicide.”
In 2011 the following was written in the New York Times under the heading ‘What is a family’? “Statistically, it is no longer a mother, a father and their biological children living together under one roof (and certainly not with Dad going off to work and Mom staying home). Although perception and acceptance often lag behind reality, there is evidence that a new definition of family — while far from universally accepted — is emerging.” The 21st century showcases a variety of family units, some very different from the standard of the 1950s. Today, children are also often raised in single parent homes, by grandparents or by homosexual parents.
The question we have to ask ourselves is: “How far is South Africa behind the US in this regard, if we are indeed behind them?” History has shown that no country can absorb the negative effects of an escalating divorce rate indefinitely and still remain strong, dynamic and prosperous. Someone has said: “A country can survive illiteracy, but not the demise of the family.” It is a well known fact that South Africa has an unacceptably high divorce rate which is steadily on the increase. Sixty percent of children in South Africa grow up without a father. There alsomis an ever increasing number of same sex couples who are adopting children. Virtually all South Africa’s problems can be traced back to poor or non-existent family life.
What is the substance a nation is built of? A nation is made up of communities and cultures. Communities consist of families. Families consist of parents and children. A child is the basic substance of a nation! If we allow the home to go, everything will go. We can therefore say with confidence – a nation is shaped in the home.
If we want to make a meaningful contribution towards the kind of future our children would be inheriting, then we should get involved in significant ways in raising the standard of FamilyLife in South Africa. That is exactly what Family life is aiming at!
In the year 444 BC a man surveyed the fallen walls of his beloved city, Jerusalem, as they lay in ruins (Nehemiah 2:12). In those days strong city walls were an indication of a secure city. With God’s help Nehemiah was able to rebuild the wall in a record time of 52 days. His secret ?….each family started rebuilding the wall in front of their own home!
Since 1976, FamilyLife® has been committed to helping you find biblical help for your marriage and family relationships. God has used FamilyLife to restore hope for millions of couples and transform their lives. It’s never too late to apply God’s truth to your relationships, and we stand ready to help.