The Family is an international Christian fellowship dedicated to sharing God's Word and love with others. We in The Family seek to comfort, help and minister to those in need, endeavoring to follow the model of Jesus, who said His ministry was to preach the Gospel to the poor . . . to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (The Gospel According to Saint Luke, chapter 4, verses 18 and 19). There are approximately 12,000 full-time and associate adult volunteer members in The Family working out of over 1,400 communities or "homes," situated in over 100 countries. Our members live with, and when possible are joined in their ministries by, their children. We are drawn from a multitude of nationalities, more than 90 at last count. To help achieve our broad objectives, The Family has produced an array of inspirational publications and audio and video tapes which are distributed by the millions worldwide each year. In addition to personal counseling, music is an important part of our missionary outreach, and our members regularly perform at musical benefits. Most of our communities are also involved in disaster relief or helping the socially disadvantaged in some form or another. Members of The Family take seriously their responsibility to be a living example of the Christian love that they preach. Following the pattern of the earliest Christians, we maintain a cooperative lifestyle, sharing our material possessions, resources and responsibilities with one another. This economical and communal way of life enhances our efforts and plays an important part in the furtherance of our work. We also aim to ensure that the children of our members receive the best Christian upbringing we can give them. Most of our members have chosen home-based education for their children.
The goal of our missionary work is to help others come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and experience the joy, peace and fulfillment that comes from having the Lord and His Word in their daily lives. Although we are happy to accept new members-whether full-time or part-time-our main goal is to spread the Gospel. Family communities organize Bible classes and seminars as well as teach the Bible on an individual basis. One of our goals is to train others in Christian leadership skills so that will also spread the Gospel. 2 Timothy 2:2 states "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (NKJ) The Family has recently launched a new missionary program called "Activated!" which has at its core a comprehensive program of monthly magazines, available by subscription. This is supplemented by meetings, classes, seminars and an array of other publications and audio/video/multimedia products with the aim of helping new believers establish themselves in the basis of their faith.
The goal of The Family is to serve God by rendering loving service to our fellow man. We do this by not only offering spiritual help but also material aid. The Bible tells us in James 2:15-17, If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (NKJ) Our humanitarian projects include disaster relief, help for the homeless, for refugees, visitation and aid to the sick, the elderly and the handicapped, programs in prisons and correctional institutions, special programs for children and medical projects. Many individuals and organizations have extended public commendation for our efforts.
In only 31 years, Family members have been in 170 of the world's approximately 200 nations and principalities, where we have personally spoken with over 200 million people about the Gospel, or an average of over 20,000 a day. Of those, over 23.3 million have prayed with us to accept God's salvation through Jesus into their lives. We have also produced and distributed 853 million pieces of Christian literature, 110 million inspirational posters, 8 million tapes and CDs of Christian music and inspirational talks and dramas, and 1.4 million videos of our various award winning character-building TV series for children.
Activities such as those described below are initiated and carried out by individual Family communities, although sometimes communities will work together on major projects such as disaster relief. Sometimes a community will set up a charitable foundation to raise support for their particular project.
Humanitarian Projects Disaster relief Volunteers for The Family aid victims of disasters by collecting, shipping and personally distributing relief supplies on the scene. The Family Activity Reports, which are published monthly, describe a few of the current and ongoing projects The Family is engaged in.
Homeless, refugees and war victims Our members work with the organizers of homeless shelters, food kitchens and refugee camps to provide food, clothing and other basic necessities, as well as meaningful entertainment and comforting songs. In many cases, Family members serve as links between civic-minded businesses and individuals and the needy situations: They recognize the need, ask for donations of goods, services or money from those who have the means to help, and then personally deliver the donated items. In addition to providing material assistance, Family volunteers offer comfort and counsel, hope and faith, and a listening ear.
Helping the sick, the elderly and the physically challenged Members conduct regular visitation programs at many hospitals and institutions worldwide. Our visits at hospitals for children suffering from cancer and other debilitating or terminal illnesses have been particularly welcomed. We give performances for the children, their parents and hospital staff, majoring on faith-building stories, which help the children as they struggle to come to terms with their sicknesses. Family members also visit senior citizens in nursing homes, retirement centers and at home, bringing solace, entertainment, and practical help. Some communities supply local nursing homes with food and other material support or help with routine chores and repairs.
Programs in prisons and juvenile detention centers Family communities conduct programs in prisons for both men and women, and institutes for juvenile offenders. Simple musical or theatrical performances are features of the visits. More than entertainment, these shows are designed to help motivate the prisoners to change their lives for the better. Family members also offer individual counseling geared at restoring a sense of personal worth to the inmates, helping them to come to terms with their past, and imparting to them a personal knowledge of God's love and forgiveness. In addition, Christian literature, Bible studies, prayer and follow-up correspondence are made available for those interested in finding spiritual solutions to their problems. The underlying message is that a happy, useful life is still within each inmate's reach.
Giving children a brighter future
Over the past two decades, The Family has produced three series of videos for children (Kiddie Viddie, Treasure Attic and Fantastic Friends), as well as videos for preteens and teenagers. These videos feature Family children and teenagers performing original songs, which teach practical and character-building lessons in a fun, fast-moving way that kids around the world relate to and enjoy. The Family's videos have received widespread acclaim from parents and educators alike, and some are now available in 24 languages. Concerned individuals, businesses and civic associations, by way of Family sponsorship programs, have donated many sets of these videos to schools, orphanages, hospitals and other institutions for disadvantaged or handicapped children. Members of The Family pay regular visits to orphanages, children's homes and hospitals. In cases where institutions receive insufficient support, The Family helps arrange sponsorship and donations of food, clothing, shoes, school supplies and toys. They also brighten the children's days with musical shows and activities. In many cases, The Family also holds classes for the children's caretakers, which included practical, motivational, and teaching tips.
* Activities are documented in the monthly Family Activity Report newsletters as well as on the International Family Website at www.thefamily.org/thefamily. The Web Site also has information on our publications.
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VISITING THE FAMILY ON-LINE
http://www.thefamily.org/thefamily - International Family Website
CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY
In recognition of the importance of our members' care of their children, much of our governing Charter is dedicated to outlining the rights of children and parents, as well as the responsibilities of the parents and the Family communities in which they reside, to provide a loving, safe, and adequate environment for children.
Gifts of God
Children in our communities are cherished as priceless gifts from God, given to their parents to love, care for, and to raise in a Godly manner. Primary responsibility for the welfare of children rests with their parents, but because of our faith and co-operative lifestyle, the raising of Family children is also a community affair, as parents share the child-rearing duties together with others in the Home.
Many parents in The Family choose to educate their children at home. Through home schooling, the children receive caring, concerned teaching and supervision, which correspond with our Christian values. Parents may decide instead to send their children to private or public schools. Each child has the right to receive an adequate education, and it is the responsibility of the parents and the Home to ensure they receive it, whether by home schooling, outside tutelage, or public schools. Children are given a well-rounded education with a sound training in essential academic skills. This includes reading, writing, mathematics, history, general social studies, international and local current events, general science, and numerous other subjects as well. Due to the nature of our missionary work, Family children are exposed to a number of different cultures, languages and customs, resulting in highly-developed social skills and a broad view of the world at large.
The physical health and needs of our children are of major importance. Good health and a proper, balanced diet are very important factors in a child's developmental and educational progress, and our children learn good health and hygiene habits from early childhood. Parents assure that their children get sufficient rest, daily vigorous exercise, and a well-balanced diet, with limitations on sweets and junk food. Medical decisions regarding children are the responsibility of the parents. The Family's Charter requires that medical attention be made available to members that need it.
We have taken stringent measures to ensure that the children in our communities are protected from any sort of abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or otherwise. We are confident that the guidelines set down for our communities in this regard afford our children a highly protected and safe environment. Our members are obligated to report if they suspect or observe any action that could be harmful to a child. The Charter clearly states that: "Each parent is responsible to protect their children from all forms of abuse-sexual, physical, spiritual, mental, emotional or psychological." As such, the parents are responsible to protect their children and provide them with a suitable environment, as well as taking appropriate action if the rights of the children are infringed upon in any way. * "On the basis of psychological testing, clinical interviews, and behavioral observation, these [Family] children appeared to be emotionally well adjusted, cognitively advanced, and quite adaptive in interpersonal functioning. ... The homes provide a very supportive and caring environment for the children. Contrary to critics' claims, these children are treated quite well. ... A loving and nurturing atmosphere is pervasive. ... In addition to being well-socialized and emotionally healthy, children's performance on cognitive and educational tasks is remarkable. ... The evidence of a healthy environment for children was overwhelming." - Comments from Lawrence Lilliston, Professor of Psychology and Gary Shepherd, Professor of Sociology, concluding a study of 32 Family children.
Freedom of choice
We love our children dearly and pray that they, too, will feel called by the Lord to serve Him as we do. We give the children the best care, moral training and personal example we can while they are young. However, it is up to them as they get older to choose whether they wish to devote their lives to serving God in The Family, or whether they prefer to pursue secular careers. As a whole, most young people who have left The Family have had little difficulty integrating into formal schooling, and most have done well scholastically. Should they decide to leave the Family, their parents are expected to assist them in every possible way, such as finding suitable accommodations for them and helping them to find employment or enroll for higher education, etc. We believe that as parents we should do what we can to make their transition to another lifestyle as smooth as possible, extending to them our unconditional love and support.