The primary goal of the Family International is to share the life-giving message from God's Word of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ. We seek to help others come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and to experience the joy, peace, and fulfillment that comes from including the Lord and His Word in their daily lives.
We also aim to provide assistance to the needy, both spiritually and materially. Many of our communities are involved in relief work or helping the socially disadvantaged in some form.
Our communities organize and teach Bible classes, retreats and seminars. One of our goals is to train others in Christian leadership skills so that they can also help spread the Gospel. Second Timothy 2:2 (NKJ) 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."
To help achieve these broad objectives, we produce an array of video productions, multimedia and music CDs/DVDs, and devotional, inspirational, and educational publications, which are distributed to millions worldwide each year, in all major world languages. In addition to personal counseling, music is an important part of our missionary outreach, and our members regularly perform at benefits and other occasions.
We publish a monthly magazine called Activated which focuses on helping new believers establish themselves in the basis of their faith. For readers who desire more, Activated is supplemented by follow-up meetings, classes, seminars, and an array of other publications and audio/video/multimedia products.
For those who would like further training, we have the 12 Foundation Stones course, which is generally taught by our members as a series of weekly classes. It's also available as a correspondence course. This training course, lasting three to six months, covers a wide spectrum of foundation topics of Christian faith, including subjects such as prayer, reading God's Word, the Bible, prophecy, relations with others, etc.
God is love and He loved humanity so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to show His love. Jesus loved, healed, and brought hope to many, and then was persecuted and crucified, but three days later He rose from the dead, conquering death! Jesus willingly died on the cross for humanity, so that by receiving Him as our Savior we could be forgiven for our sins and be guaranteed a place in Heaven. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16, NKJ).
We look forward to the day, which we believe is in the not-too–distant future, when Jesus Christ will return to Earth at His Second Coming. He will rule the Earth with righteousness, love, mercy, goodness, and kindness. He will stop all wars, banish hatred and lack of love, and create a wonderful, glorious Kingdom of Love here on Earth!
Immediately prior to this‚ however, according to Scripture, the world will be plunged into an unprecedented time of turmoil and religious persecution‚ referred to in the Bible as the "Great Tribulation" (Matthew 24:21). Part of our message is how to be prepared for these coming events.
Our basic beliefs are the same as those held by hundreds of millions of Christians the world over, including salvation by grace and acceptance of Jesus as one's personal Savior. However, in addition, some of our doctrines are unconventional. We respect other Christian denominations as different parts of the Body of Christ, each with their own particular emphases, doctrines, and vocations. (For a fuller explanation of our beliefs, please see "The Family International's Statement of Faith.")
Our beliefs and lifestyle are based on the "Law of Love" that Jesus taught: "to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves," which He said fulfills "all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). Our belief in this principle, and our application of it to our everyday behavior and activities, is a defining feature of our lives.
We also believe that God still speaks today and will give help, guidance and encouragement to those who ask Him. He loves us so much that He not only wants to communicate with us through His written Word, but also directly. He created a means of two-way communication, a channel so that we can talk to Him in prayer and in reply receive personal guidance from Him.
WHAT THE FAMILY HAS ACHIEVED
In 35 years, Family members have lived and/or worked in 170 of the world's approximately 200 nations and principalities. We personally preach the Gospel to an average of over 20,000 people a day. Of those, to date over 28.6 million have prayed with us to accept God's salvation through Jesus. We have also produced and distributed over 922 million pieces of Christian literature, including 122 million inspirational posters, 10.8 million tapes and CDs of Christian music and inspirational talks and dramas, and 1.9 million of our various award-winning character-building videos for children.
HELP FOR THE NEEDY
The goal of the Family International is to serve God by rendering loving service to our fellow man. We do this by offering spiritual help as well as material aid where and when we can. The Bible tells us in James 2:15-17 (NKJ), "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."
The Family International Worldwide Activity Report‚ published monthly, features articles on current and ongoing projects that members of our movement are engaged in. Family communities often collaborate together on projects, sometimes adopting a local name to identify their ministry. Other times they work together with other organizations, both Christian and non–Christian, in order to maximize their efforts.
Our volunteers aid victims of disasters by collecting, shipping, and personally distributing relief supplies on the scene where possible. Because our communities are located all over the world, we're often in a unique position to be able to respond quickly to local disasters. In addition to distributing physical aid, we especially focus on counseling and the spiritual encouragement of those affected by such disasters, something not usually provided by other relief organizations. We have found that this is often the greatest need in order to help people rebuild their lives or cope with the loss of loved ones.
Our members also work with the organizers of numerous homeless shelters‚ food kitchens, and refugee camps to provide food, clothing, medical care and other basic necessities, as well as meaningful entertainment--particularly for children--and comforting musical inspiration. In many cases, members of our movement serve as links between civic-minded businesses or individuals and needy situations. Family volunteers identify the need, solicit the donations of goods, services, or financial aid from those who have the means to help, and then deliver the donated items to ensure their proper usage. In addition to providing material assistance, our volunteers offer comfort and counsel, hope and faith, and a listening ear.
Our members conduct regular visitation programs at hospitals, orphanages, children's homes, and institutions worldwide. We put on musical and theatrical performances for sick or disadvantaged children, encouraging them as they struggle to come to terms with their sicknesses or plight. Visits at hospitals for children suffering from cancer and other debilitating or terminal illnesses have been particularly welcomed. In cases where institutions receive insufficient support, Family communities often help to arrange sponsorship and donations of food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, and toys.
An important part of our ministry is to counsel and encourage the staff of these institutions, who are often overtaxed and greatly in need of emotional support. In many areas‚ classes or seminars are held for the caregivers, which include practical, motivational, and teaching tips. Our members also visit senior citizens in nursing homes, retirement centers, and at home, bringing solace, entertainment, practical help, and material support as our resources allow.
Many Family communities conduct programs in prisons and institutes for juvenile offenders. Simple musical or meaningful theatrical performances are features of these visits and have been very effective in motivating individuals there to turn their lives around for the better. Family volunteers also engage in individual counseling that has time and again restored a sense of personal worth to the inmates, helped them come to terms with their past, resulted in a decision to contribute positively to society, and imparted to them a personal knowledge of God's love and forgiveness.
OUR PRIMARY MISSION: RESTORING THE SOUL
Our efforts range beyond providing food and clothing to those whose stomachs growl and whose clothes are thin, to providing spiritual food and clothing to those whose souls growl and whose hearts grow thin. Jesus gave us an important key to happiness when He explained that people don't live by food alone, "but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Spiritual words of life are as essential as physical food for our total health, and we consider the care of the soul our most important mission. Even those who have their physical needs well taken care of can be spiritually impoverished--sometimes even more than those materially less fortunate.
Many need help to overcome bitterness, resentment, the loss of those dear to them, mental or emotional abuse, fear of the future, anxiety, or souls stifled and left empty by materialism and plenty. Some are faced with daunting afflictions, even incurable diseases, or the pain of bearing with a loved one engaged in such a struggle. Others are tormented by painful hurts they've inflicted on others or themselves, or fight alcoholism or substance abuse. Making a positive difference in the world by changing things for the better, even one life at a time, is the goal that we work day in and day out to accomplish.
We accomplish these goals primarily through personal counseling, classes and seminars. Our goal is to help people to grow toward a personal relationship with Jesus, to provide encouragement and reassurance that there is Someone who loves them and Who is personally interested in helping them in whatever area of their lives they have a need. We actively seek out those who are in need spiritually, and we reach out to everyone, regardless of their race‚ religion, culture or social standing.
GIVING CHILDREN A BRIGHTER FUTURE
The Family International has produced three series of videos for children (Kiddie Viddie, Treasure Attic, and Fantastic Friends), as well as videos/CDs for preteens and teenagers. These videos feature Family children and teenagers performing original songs that teach practical and character-building lessons in a fun, fast–moving way that kids around the world relate to and enjoy. Our videos have received widespread acclaim from parents and educators alike, and some titles 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/CDs to schools, orphanages, hospitals, and other institutions for disadvantaged or handicapped children.
We also distribute a variety of character-building books for children written by Family members, which are published by Swiss-based Aurora Production AG. Some of these books are devotional, such as Jesus and Me, and the Feed My Lambs course, which familiarizes young children with important basic Bible verses and places them in a modern context by means of lively illustrations. Others, like the Grandpa Jake's Storybook and Stories to Grow By series, feature fun stories that focus on moral and family values such as friendship, honesty, and consideration. Yet others, such as the Early Bird Readers and the "STEPS" program, are educational in nature while still highlighting Christian and moral values.
OUR FOUNDER AND LEADERSHIP
In 1968, David Brandt Berg (1919-1994), a Christian pastor, began an outreach ministry to the counterculture youth in Huntington Beach, California, USA. From these humble beginnings, what started primarily as a youth group grew to become an international Christian missionary movement.
David was the founder and pastor of the Family International. He taught that the Bible was God's standard, the yardstick of measurement by which all truth and all error could be measured. Many of our publications are based upon his writings.
After leading the Family International for 25 years, David passed away in late 1994. His wife of 25 years, Maria, is now remarried and leads the Family International together with her husband, Peter. Like David, Maria continues to publish many writings on a variety of spiritual and practical topics.
FAMILY STRUCTURE AND GOVERNMENT
The Love Charter outlines the principles, goals, and governance of the Family International. It also outlines the rights‚ responsibilities, and requirements of full-time Family membership, as well as our fundamental rules‚ structure, procedures‚ and methods of operation.
Our Charter was adopted by consensus on April 1, 1995, with some amendments being made in subsequent years. Each aspect of the Love Charter is based on biblical principles as well as the writings of our founder, David Brandt Berg. These guidelines also provide opportunity for Family members to follow what they believe is God's will for them personally, to collectively manage and govern their own communities, and to freely operate according to their own initiative.
FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP AND MEMBERSHIP
All Family members have received Jesus Christ as their Savior and have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Each Family member believes he or she has been called by God to serve Him within our particular movement in some capacity.
We believe that it is a high privilege for a believer to affirmatively respond to Christ's challenge to follow Him as a full-time disciple. We also believe that Jesus' call to such full-time service remains essentially unchanged from that which He issued to the fishermen on the shores of Galilee long ago, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). As was the case with the first apostles and disciples, so we believe it is today: that the Lord has called us to wholly commit ourselves to Him, to follow His teachings and His example, fully devoting our lives to Him out of love and gratitude for His sacrifice for us.
Family membership is currently divided into the following categories:
Family disciples: Family members who live in a Family Home (community), who regularly engage in missionary outreach, tithe 10% of their income, and abide by the responsibilities of Family disciples and Homes as outlined in the Love Charter.
Missionary members: Family members who may or may not live in a Family Home, who regularly engage in missionary outreach, tithe 10% of their income, and abide by the "Missionary Member Statues," which have fewer requirements than the Love Charter.
Fellow members: members who espouse Family teachings, tithe 10% of their income to help support Family operations‚ but have a lower level of commitment and fewer requirements than Family disciples or Missionary members.
Active members: those who believe in Family doctrine, receive our monthly membership magazine, work with and sponsor Family members or Homes in some capacity.
General members: those associated with the Family International in some way, such as through receiving our literature regularly and/or work with us on missionary or humanitarian projects.
There are no restrictions to membership with regards to race, color, gender, or nationality. Membership in the Family International is voluntary, and all members must sincerely believe they are called by the Lord to work with our movement at the level of membership they choose, receive the approval of the local Family community‚ and be willing to abide by the guidelines governing their level of membership. Those wishing to change their membership level or discontinue it altogether and pursue another vocation may do so at any time.
Members of the Family International take seriously their responsibility to be a living example of the Christian love and dedication that they preach. Following the pattern of the earliest Christians, Family disciples and many Missionary members maintain a cooperative lifestyle, sharing 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.
Each Family community functions independently, elects its leadership, and determines its goals, direction, and activities, by the vote of its members.
Each community is also financially autonomous, and thus its members are responsible to raise the support and finances necessary for their particular mission or social welfare projects. Family communities and their projects are generally sponsored by local businesses or individuals, as well as through the sale and/or distribution of inspirational and/or educational books and audio-video products. Some Missionary members and a few Family disciples take on secular employment‚ but most dedicate their full time and efforts to their mission. In other levels of Family membership, secular employment is common.
Individual members are expected to find the will of God for themselves. They are encouraged to seek counsel from Family members, particularly those in their own community, but are responsible for their own decisions. Individuals and families also decide which community they choose to live in, providing the receiving community agrees and is able to accept them.
World Services, the administrative arm of the Family International, is responsible to receive and manage tithes from Family communities. These tithes are used for the creation and publishing of numerous internal publications, including outreach and parenting aids, which are sent free to Family communities; aid to Family communities in developing countries; and used to sponsor a wide variety of Family projects to assist communities in their outreach, home life, and the care of their children.
FAMILIES: MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN
Marriage, according to the Scripture, is the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. Members of the Family International who choose to marry enter into a covenant together between themselves and the Lord, committing themselves to love, care, and be responsible for one another and their children, in a Christ-centered union that glorifies God.
In recognition of the importance of our members' care of their children, a substantial part of our governing Love 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 nurturing environment for children.
We believe that children are given to their parents to love, care for, and raise in a godly manner. Primary responsibility for the welfare of children rests with their parents, but because of our faith and cooperative lifestyle, the raising of children is also a community affair, as parents share the child-rearing duties together with others in the Home.
Family parents and communities are responsible to ensure that each child receives a proper education. Homeschooling is highly encouraged due to its many benefits, and therefore most parents in the Family International choose to educate their children at home so the children can receive caring, concerned teaching and supervision, corresponding with our Christian values.
We strive to provide our children with positive home-study learning environments that encourage each child to discover his or her unique gifts, talents and abilities, to come to know God in a deep and personal way, and to develop qualities in their lives that reflect the life of Jesus. We believe that not only is the Christian lifestyle, environment and education we give our children essential for their spiritual growth and well-being, but that we are morally obliged to train our children in this way in obedience to God and His Word.
It is our hope that as many of our children as possible will grow up to serve God and others. However, as they come of age, it is up to them to choose whether they wish to devote their lives to serving God in the Family International or whether they prefer to pursue other careers. We believe and expect that parents should do what they can to make their children's transition to another lifestyle as smooth as possible, assisting them within their available resources and extending to them unconditional love and support, so that they can be productive members of society in whatever career they choose.
It is a sad commentary on the world today that believers of many faiths are subject to intolerance, discrimination, and persecution. Such problems also exist for adherents of new religions, popularly labeled as "sects" or demonized as "cults." The Family International, being a nontraditional Christian group, has been no exception.
Opponents of our movement--including apostates, private "anti-cult" organizations, and media factions--have made sensational allegations about us, which even led to civil authorities in several countries carrying out violent raids on our communities. In some instances our members and their children were brutally mistreated, and children were forcibly separated from their parents and placed in government institutions. However, after extensive physical, psychological and educational testing, each and every child was returned to the care of his or her parents, the courts decisively concluding that all had been well cared for.
Subsequent investigations exonerated our members, indicating clearly that the allegations were false. Some courts went further to decry this unwarranted horrific treatment of Family members and the violation of our rights.
The findings of courts who have investigated our movement are documented in our publication "Religious Freedom on Trial: A review of judicial findings on The Family."
If we approach the Family without a strict scientific or policy agenda, we see that it is an extremely fascinating part of the contemporary religious world. In an era when business and government leaders urge themselves to "think outside of the box," here is a group that lives its entire life outside the formal structures that constrain most people. Yet it has found a coherent and apparently satisfying way of life for its members. More than a mere counterculture, the Family is an alternative society. Even if we are unprepared to embrace the faith of the Family, we can be inspired by it.
-- William Sims Bainbridge, in The Endtime Family: Children of God, published February 2002 by State University of New York Press.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Family International's activities are documented in the monthly newsletter titled The Family International Worldwide Activity Report, as well as found on the International Family website at www.thefamily.org/thefamily. The website also hosts many of our publications.
Other sites highlighting the Family International's work in various countries, or in other languages, can be found at: www.thefamily.org/links.
A list of scholarly examinations of the Family International and its beliefs by respected academics can be found here: www.thefamily.org/about/thirdparty.php
HOW CAN I GET IN TOUCH?
Europe and Africa: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latin America: email@example.com
The Family International
Luton LU1 1RS
Phone: +44 (0) 1582 450493
The Family International
2020 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1846
Call in the USA at:
1 (800) 4-A-FAMILY [423-2645]
1 (202) 298-0838
Copyright © 2004 by The Family International
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