By Samuel Lawrence:
Recently I found out that one of my favorite broadcasters and authors was leaving a ministry I have followed for decades. I was surprised and saddened. The broadcasts and writings of Dr. James Dobson have helped me grow as a Christian and to have more of a biblical world view of marriage and family, not to mention becoming enlightened on both pro and anti-family legislation.
When I first heard Dr. Dobson was leaving Focus on the Family, I searched online and found several news articles that implied some rift between Dr. Dobson and the ministry he founded in 1977. Even some Christian bloggers were joining in the speculation. I must admit, I too became suspicious.
Today, I was thrilled to read Dr. Dobson’s final letter from Focus on the Family. In that letter, he explained that the Lord was leading him to start a new ministry called “Family Talk.” This is a new radio broadcast in which his son Ryan will join him on the air. I got to hear Ryan Dobson at the Avalanche Youth Conference a few years ago in Pigeon Forge, TN. Ryan is a gifted speaker and will be a dynamic radio personality.
I invite everyone who loves the ministry of Dr. James Dobson to check out Family Talk. I certainly hope one of our local radio stations will carry this new broadcast. If not, I hope Family Talk will archive their broadcasts online!
Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family granted us rights to republish the e-newsletter and so we have provided it for you here on Christian Faith in America.
Family News From James Dobson
Shirley and I have come now to our final hours on the staff of Focus on the Family. I have been given the privilege of writing to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues across the nation and around the world. By the time this letter reaches your home, our era within this beloved ministry will have drawn to a close.
As you can imagine, this is a very nostalgic time for us as we prepare to leave. One night last week, Shirley and I “walked the halls” of our campus here in Colorado Springs, after all the staff and visitors were gone. A million memories flooded through our minds on that tearful stroll. I thought about the day, nearly 18 years ago, when I walked through a half-finished structure in what would become the Administration Building. I stood where the studio would be located, and marked the dimensions of the boardroom. Then I watched as the edifice took shape, steel on steel and brick by brick. A short time later, we dedicated the campus to the Lord before a gathering of 15,000 friends and associates. Seven “Lesbian Avengers” protested across the street on that day. Can you guess what The Denver Post chose as the headline for their account of our celebration?
As we meandered through the buildings last week for perhaps the final time, we looked at each photo that decorates the walls. People have always been the centerpiece of the décor. I am pictured there with a much younger Billy Graham, and the late Bill Bright, Adrian Rogers and Tony Snow. In another portion of the building, we see Oliver North, Chuck Swindoll, Joe Gibbs, Darrell Waltrip and many more colleagues. My dear friend Chuck Colson is also represented, as are three U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan—George H.W. Bush—and George W. Bush, during their time on the world stage.
Shirley and I are also shown standing beside Prince Charles on a recent visit to his private home in the Cotswolds, UK. There is a photograph of Sean Hannity, taken the day he came to speak to our staff and talk to our radio listeners. Memorabilia from the past 33 years are arranged in glass cases in the Welcome Center, some of it crystal and some bronze. My grandfather’s gold pocket watch is there, as is a football autographed by every member of the national champion USC Trojans in 2003. Quarterback Carson Palmer’s signature has become faded by the afternoon sun.
A photograph of the crew of the shuttle Columbia is shown just before its launch into orbit. How tragic it is that every one of those astronauts died on the shuttle’s descent to earth, including the commander. They had carried with them a Focus on the Family cap, given by me to Commander Rick Husband shortly before the blast off. A charred piece of that cap was found on the plains of Texas and is now on display in our Welcome Center.
Hanging in the “chapelteria” are 17 colorful silk hoods from colleges and universities that awarded honorary doctorates to me through the years. Each item on this Grand Tour evokes a story, an experience, and a memory of great friends whom we cherish.
Shirley and I returned to our offices after the “walk about,” where the packing process was about to get under way. Valued books would soon be placed in boxes, and my father’s paintings taken down in preparation for the move. Pictures of our daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were still in their places. On the wall above my couch is a large painting of Sir Winston Churchill, given to me by the board of directors during the dedication of our new campus in 1993. The remnants of many years are scattered there, each one neatly folded and lined in gold.
Our ministry began with the first radio broadcast on March 26, 1977. I had just resigned as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine and as a member of the Attending Staff at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Academia had been my professional “home” for 17 years, and it was a scary thing to walk away. Our lives were about to take a dramatic turn. Then, like now, we had no idea where the future led. We leased a two-room office in Arcadia, Calif., hired a half-time secretary (Mrs. Dee Otte) and began broadcasting with co-host Mrs. Flo Schmidt. Immediately, an avalanche of mail and calls came pouring in, as we struggled mightily to respond to so many personal requests. And Focus on the Family had only just begun.
The Focus on the Family film series was released on September 15, 1979, which turned our lives upside down. It was eventually seen by more than 80 million people around the world. Within eight years, we had 500 employees and were heard on more than 400 radio stations. What breathless days those were for us. The ministry grew steadily to a staff of more than 1,400 dedicated people on an 80-acre campus in Colorado Springs. I felt personally responsible for every division of the ministry, and worked tirelessly to protect its integrity.
To read Dr. Dobson’s final letter in its entirety, CLICK HERE>>>