"HALLELUJAH! I WANT TO EXPRESS PUBLICALLY BEFORE HIS PEOPLE MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO GOD FOR HIS MIGHTY MIRACLES. ALL WHO ARE THANKFUL SHOULD PONDER THEM WITH ME. FOR HIS MIRACLES DEMONSTRATE HIS HONOR, MAJESTY AND ETERNAL GOODNESS."
(Psa. 111:1-3 TLB)
Well, as the old adage goes —
"If I knew I was gonna live so long I'd have taken better care of myself!"
So here we are — 30 years since that first little snowy picture struggled on the air in Southern California, USA! As I reflected and prayed about what to say in this 360th (or thereabout) letter to you, my faithful Partners, some stories never before told came rolling out of the inner recesses of my memory. Most have heard the "BIG MIRACLES" — the day the mountain moved; Scotty and the $35,000 five minutes before the bank closed; the enemies who tried to take all of our TV licenses away — just to name a few. All of the, so-called, great miracles are told and retold in my new book,
HELLO WORLD, this month's love gift. Get it and let's rejoice together for 30 years of God's miracles, just as real and just as great as many that are recorded in the Bible.
But, you know, in a real sense there are no big or little miracles — a miracle is a miracle!
And as I wandered down this long, winding 30-year trail, I stopped to revisit some of the sweetest and most precious stories and events that are a vital part of THE MIRACLE OF TBN!
I will never forget Grandma Avery.
She was one of those "mothers in Israel" at our home church in Santa Ana, California back in 1973. The news had been announced that God's people might have their very own TV station to lift up Jesus 24 hours a day! How we all rejoiced, but had we known the tortured trail that lay ahead — ah, but that is another story—read my book!
As we left church that Sunday, Grandma Avery took my arm and said, "Paul, this TV station is wonderful, but you will need some finances — I won't be here to see it, but God is faithful and will multiply this to meet every need." With that, she pressed a crumpled five-dollar bill into my hand. Ah, precious seed indeed!
And yes, dear Grandma, God did multiply it!
She went home to heaven shortly after that first little TV station signed on the air, but we all will share in the reward for the millions of souls won from that very first financial seed planted by sweet Grandma Avery!
This next story is scary!
Just as Grandma Avery had predicted, we needed some finances to get started.
The donations were precious, but not nearly enough to produce a nightly Praise the Lord program, or to finally purchase our own TV station. So we started a "Revocable Trust Fund." Many ministries were doing this — taking deposits from partners and paying interest on the deposits. But we learned, to our dismay, that a permit was required from the State of California! By then we had accepted several hundred thousand dollars in TBN's sweet little trust fund! One story within this story must be told. A dear partner couple came to visit TBN one day to consider making a deposit. They met Jan and me, looked around at our very spartan facilities and retired to the prayer chapel to pray about their decision. They came out with a smile saying the Lord confirmed to them that their money was safe with TBN. They handed me a check for $20,000, which was overwhelming back then! By the way, TBN has never missed an interest payment or even been late for 30 years. We do not solicit revocable trust deposits anymore, but do accept them if the partner wills it to TBN at their homegoing.
But now, the rest of the story.
The State of California made us register every trust deposit and offer a recision letter to everyone saying they could ask for a complete refund if they so desired! Thankfully, very few requested that and we are now legal in all respects.
You know, one of the greatest miracles in the beginning and through the years has been the awesome TRUST that you dear Partners have placed in Jan and me.You really didn't know us from Adam back in 1973 — surely the Lord had to confirm to you that this ministry was from Him!
One more story surely confirms that trust.
Phoenix, Arizona — 1977 — Jan and I had to agree to assume over 2 million dollars in debts to acquire TV station number two!
Wow — this whole story is in my book. But the trust came one Saturday afternoon as we met with about 200 partners who had "invested" in the bonds that had been issued by the church that owned KPAZ-TV 21. The church was now insolvent and unable to pay even the interest to the mostly elderly partners. They would vote that day on whether or not to "trust" TBN, and Jan and me to pay them back their investment. For over an hour Jan and I poured out our hearts on how we would work till our fingers bled, we would fast and pray to make TV-21 a success and that given a reasonable amount of time, every bondholder would be paid in full with interest. Finally, the moment came for the vote. Secret ballots had been prepared, but before they could be passed out, a dear white-haired gentleman on the front row stood up, turned to the other investors, and shouted — "Aw, I've heard enough. Let's tell Paul and Jan we are with them!" With that, the whole
200 plus stood to their feet in a thunderous ovation!
We never even took any other vote!
Ah, talk about trust! For many this was their life savings, but I tell you with great joy that
every investment was paid in full, two years ahead of the agreed schedule. Praise the Lord!
Have I ever told you our white dove story?
This is most unusual. It was Easter Sunday 1976. We had just finished our first new studio building in Tustin, California, and Jan and I were moving the last of our smaller personal things from our first little rented studio at 111 W. Dyer Road in Santa Ana —
read my book!
We were actually very sad because we had seen many of those amazing early miracles there. But as I walked into one of the new offices, there atop a file cabinet sat a beautiful pure white dove! Besides being amazed that a live bird had gotten into our new building, I wondered how in the world would I get it out? We were a long way from the front door down a very long hall! Not knowing what else to do I moved slowly toward the bird to be further amazed that it showed no fear, but stood there calmly even as I reached out my hands — and yes, picked it up! As I headed for the door to release it, I called for Jan upstairs to come and see! Together we walked outside and gently released our new charge into the air. It flew upward, but turned and landed
right back on the roof of our new chapel!
It remained there for the rest of the afternoon and as we drove away it had tucked its little head under a wing and gone to roost against the upper wall of the chapel! Jan and I laughed and cried that God would give us a most precious sign that we were moving in His will. And from then on we felt perfectly at home in our new quarters.
How I wish I had more space to tell many more precious stories—like the cameraman who turned pale as he literally saw Jesus walking between the telephone prayer partners during a live
Praise the Lord
program. Or Grandma Ollie, who walked the four corners of the lot next door that we desperately needed in order to expand. The owner hated us and told me he would give it to the devil before he would sell it to TBN!
Ah, but Grandma Ollie, our pioneer prayer partner—she walked the lot and buried pages of her Bible in the four corners pouring Holy Land anointing oil and perfume into the bare ground! Within days the owner called to apologize and finally sold us the lot! Studio "C" sits on it today! Praise the Lord God most high!
Dear, dear Partners, how Jan and I treasure all of YOU that have been a vital part of this great miracle called TBN!
It really is YOUR story — yours, plus a great number that are in heaven today waiting for us to join them as VICTOR'S CROWNS are given to all of us by Jesus Himself!
But until then remember —
Jesus did not even begin His full ministry till he was 30!
In the last two years we have launched
three more TV networks, built
new Digital TV stations, and have over
more to build and are covering the WHOLE WIDE WORLD with over
4,914 stations, 30 great satellites, shortwave radio, the Internet, DBS and DTV!
Praise God—let's keep giving the devil HELL in Jesus' Name!
"OH GOD, YOU HAVE HELPED ME FROM MY EARLIEST CHILDHOOD—AND I HAVE CONSTANTLY TESTIFIED TO OTHERS OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO. AND NOW THAT I AM OLD AND GRAY, DON'T FORSAKE ME. GIVE ME TIME TO TELL THIS NEW GENERATION, AND THEIR CHILDREN TOO, ABOUT ALL YOUR MIGHTY MIRACLES."
(Psa. 71:17, 18 TLB)
On May 28, 1973, YOUR TBN was born - God's great end time Voice to the world!
August 2, 1974 - the FCC granted TBN's first TV station license for KTBN Channel 40 in Southern California. I was so excited to get the news, I dashed to Western Union to pick up the official telegram in person!