The social media age has helped families build relationships with new friends and re-establish contacts with old ones, but it also has had an interesting side effect: Everyone’s life on Facebook and other platforms seems, well, perfect.
It is rare, indeed, to read about a person’s struggles at work or at home. Instead, we see pictures of smiling parents and happy children, living their seemingly seamless lives.
It is enough to make families wonder: Does anyone else share our struggles?
A new 12-episode Christian family series seeks to break through the façade, showing real families facing real challenges in life — all of them talking candidly about not only their moments in the valleys but also how they overcame their struggles.
Called “Parent Compass,” the free series launched May 20 on ParentCompass.TV and covers a multiple of life-changing moments, from the loss of a job to the loss of a child. Along the way it spotlights 12 couples — of various races and backgrounds — whose relationship with Christ (the “compass”) brought them through their darkest moments.
A workbook, downloadable through the website, also will be available for use in small groups or at-home study.
The idea for the not-for-profit series came from executive producer Natalie Jones, who said she began seeing the need for such a series eight years ago at a Christian conference. Three years later, she felt led to launch the project.
“So a prayer group started and they have been praying ever since,” she said. “We asked God to write these episodes.”
Nathan Todd Sims of Fusion Productions directed all 12 episodes, the first of which won two Telly Awards, which are given to the best in film and video.
“The whole point of this series is this: The way to manage life, family and to parent is to follow Jesus Christ,” Jones said. “Every episode begins with a verse and ends with a verse, and is brought alive through the episode. There’s a variety of issues, backgrounds and family sizes. What’s the same is their compass, and the compass is Christ.”
Among the families and issues covered in the episodes:
- A family whose child suffered from a disease and was healed.
- A family whose child suffered from cancer and died.
- A wife who was assaulted.
- A husband who lost his job.
- A mother who grew up with an absent father who was addicted to drugs.
- A single mother who had scheduled an abortion three times.
One of the couples featured is Jonathan and Wynter Pitts, whose daugtyher, Alena, is the jump-roping child star of the hit movie “War Room.”
As episode two shows, Wynter beat the statistics, having grown up in inner-city Baltimore with a drug-addicted absentee father. She and her husband, Jonathan Pitts, now have four daughters and their episode is the true story of how the Pitts family discovered the power of God.
“Jonathan and I hope our experiences in God’s grace and power will help other families in seemingly hopeless situations,” Wynter said, “or parents raising families without a clear road map from their own rearing.”
Wynter now is founder and editor of “For Girls Like You,” a ministry and magazine for girls ages 6 to 11 and their parents. Jonathan is executive director of Tony Evan’s Ministry, The Urban Alternative.
Jonathan said the online format will naturally attract young couples. In fact, he said he and his wife got hooked one night watching an episode about another family.
“We literally don’t have cable at our house,” he said. “We don’t have satellite. We watch TV on our phone or on our laptop. That’s how our generation watches. We may subscribe to ESPN or NBC online or whatever. But it being online and being able to share that through social media, that’s the best way to do it.”
Jones said the goal of the series is for parents to see God at work in the lives of the families and be empowered to ask for “more of God” in theirs. She also hopes parents who are moved by the series will tell others about it; word of mouth, she said, is key to the project impacting lives.
“No one has to parent alone,” Jones added. “God is waiting for us to ask for help.”
For more information, visit ParentCompass.TV.
Michael Foust is an award-winning freelance writer and father of four small children. He blogs about parenting at michaelfoust.com.