(Photo: Twitter/Jim Daly)
Focus on the Family is launching a new $5 million documentary film and curriculum project to bolster families across the world and address social ills like homelessness, gang violence and assault.
"In America, there is one divorce every 13 seconds," according to a video released by Focus on the Family (FOTF) announcing the organization's new initiative, aptly named "The Family Project."
The promotional video flashes through news headlines that report on increasing rates of divorce and the effect fatherlessness has on children – higher risk of suicide, teen pregnancy and gang membership.
On the video, the FOTF president announces that The Family Project is set to include a feature film, "a documentary that lifts up God's design for the family" and presents the biblical view as the best family structure – a goal to aspire toward.
"When you watch the news and read the headlines, it's easy to despair," explained Jim Daly, president of FOTF. Nevertheless, he calls for hope to stem from the Christian community. Daly summarized John 16:33, where Jesus says there will be trouble in this world, but adds: "I have overcome the world."
John Shepherd, president of Mpower Pictures, the company that will produce the film along with FOTF, explained that family is the "basic building block of society." Shepherd said the project aims to "empower not only the artists, but also the audience to make positive change in the culture."
One of the news reports at the beginning of the video lists robbery, sexual abuse and assault as being on the rise, and includes a woman explaining the gang mentality. "If you want to be a man, this is what you do. You kill other people, you join a gang, you get somebody pregnant."
These social problems, the film suggests, tie back to the lack of fathers.
Only God's plan for the family can answer the mindset of gang culture, Daly argued.
"We want to recast a vision for family," he said, noting that the the project, expected to cost $5 million, includes the cost for the film and for a multimedia curriculum to "guide people through the understanding of why God designed family the way that he did."
Tim Sisarich, the host of The Family Project, also affirms his belief that God's grace and truth, no matter what a family's circumstances might be, can inspire hope again. "We know an architect who can bring us back to the original design for family," he said. "If we have to go to the ends of the earth to bring this truth to light, then let's do it."
The project was announced Thursday and is expected to take more than a year to complete. Filming for the documentary began in March and will finish this month, with a release coming to theaters in late spring 2014. The multimedia curriculum will release in mid-summer, and an online training program will launch next winter.
According to its website, FOTF plans to partner with churches in order to achieve three goals: "Truly understand the significance of God's great plan for humanity through families, Live with purpose and an eternal perspective, and Model God's redemptive design for family to their neighbors, peers, coworkers, and ultimately, their culture."
In the promotional video for the project, Daly asks for financial support, but he also requests prayer. "If you will pray for us and if you will consider supporting us, this project will change the tide for family around the world," he said.