“JESUS REPLIED…NO ONE HAS EVER GIVEN UP ANYTHING— HOME, BROTHERS, SISTERS, MOTHER, FATHER, CHILDREN OR PROPERTY— FOR LOVE OF ME AND TO TELL OTHERS THE GOOD NEWS…”
Mark 10:29 TLB
I don’t think I have ever told the full story of how Jan and I had to make a very serious decision for the beginnings of TBN. I think we both were afraid everyone would think that we were trying to take the credit for what has become the largest Christian TV network in the world. But, believe me, we were just two very scared children striking out into an unknown never, never land. No one knows better than we, who really birthed TBN — it was our God from start to finish. I’ll show you how as my story continues, but let this be known to all right up front!
More of the details are told in my book, Hello World, but here I will try to tell you some of the “inside story,” or may I say “inside terrors” that Jan and I faced in those pioneering days.
The day I remember well is the one that we both were required to secure our first TV station, Channel 40 KTBN-TV. The large legal documents were “personal guarantees” to the owner, Mr. Angel Lerma. The fine print simply said: “Your house, furniture, personal possessions, etc., would be forfeit if the station was not successful.” In plain English, it meant we could lose virtually everything — including our little Honda car, even though it was far from being paid in full! I remember my cold sweaty palms as I was handed the pen to sign. Jan recalls being far more at peace. Ah, great man of faith? I think not!
Many hard tests of faith came and went as we struggled through those amazing early days. One was a major lesson that God had to teach me.
Among the personal possessions Jan and I had put on the line was our $20,000 life savings, which we gave to get Praise the Lord on the air. But after only three days of being on the air our money was gone— completely spent! On that third night of Praise the Lord I was so mentally and physically exhausted I left the program with Jan and our pastor, Syvelle Phillips. Yes, great man of faith! They were going to have our first “mini-thon” to see if we had any giving partners.
As I drove home I remember crying out to God, “Why does it have to be so hard? We have given you everything, God — our house, possessions, even our life savings!” Suddenly, I heard “that” Voice — the One that had called Jan and me to start TBN. His Voice was tender, but clear: “Son, you have not GIVEN me anything!” I was shocked, but it was true. “You only LOANED me your savings.” Yes, I had taken back a promissory note so that, hopefully, TBN could pay us back in the future. Believe me, God knows ALL our secrets!
I arrived home where I switched on the TV and threw myself across the bed. I said to God, “Alright, if you will cause your people to give a matching $20,000, I will tear up the note and truly GIVE you our $20,000!”
By now, our pastor was challenging our tiny audience to give. My sweet Jan was our number one phone partner. I called the prayer line number and somehow got her and told her what I had heard from the Lord. I said, “The money is yours, too. Do you agree that we give it all to Him?” I could literally hear a tear in her voice as she agreed wholeheartedly. She knew better than anyone what a miracle it was for me to give up our life savings! Some of you have heard me tell this miracle story on the air. You know how that night God not only matched our gift, but the grand total was over $50,000 — even more over the next few days. Praise the Lord!
Now here is where this miracle and the word of the Lord can bless you in an amazing way.
Without realizing it, I had just planted a massive seed (for us) which was the initial seed that has grown to this amazing Voice called TBN! I am a witness that from that day to this, YOUR TBN has been totally out of debt. Yes, we paid off Mr. Lerma for Channel 40 in record time, never missing a payment. From then on we have built TV studios, bought 35 more TV stations, over 300 low power stations, launched 77 satellite channels, launched nine more 24/7 networks, and are creating, perhaps, the most important new network of them all: iTBN, an internet station that will be seen in every nation on earth! My son, Paul Jr., says: “Dad, this is the network of the future. Someday our old ‘throughthe- air’ TV stations will be history; but if Jesus tarries, we will still reach every soul after you and mom are in heaven.” Glory be to God!
So perhaps God will not ask you for everything like He did for Jan and me — but remember our theme Scripture:
“No one has ever given up anything…for the love of me and to tell others the Good News.” Mark 10:29 TLB
And, what does Jesus tell us that we can expect? We will —
“be given back, a hundred times over, homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land.” Mark 10:30 TLB
But here is the best part of all: “and in the world to come…shall have eternal life”! Mark 10:30 TLB
So has it worked for Jan and me? Well, God gave us back our home — it is paid for and we are totally out of debt! God has given us YOU — yes, thousands of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children — glory, bring them all on! Jan and I give back to TBN at least 50% of our earnings with great joy. Best of all, God has given us a precious TBN ministry work that we would never trade for anything. Also, the ministry of TBN is DEBT FREE!
So, we say try this kind of life — you’ll like it! Plant a significant seed. Give it fully expecting the glorious return that Jesus promised. One final note: name your seed — “out of debt,” “job,” “home,” “husband,” “wife” — or whatever you desire from God!
Jan and I love you 38 years long and strong. We will join you in giving our best, too! P.S. Remember, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psa. 37:4 NKJ
Join your TBN family for a glorious time of praise, prayer and worship during our week of REVIVAL Praise-a-Thon October 30 – November 6!
Jan, along with her Praise-a-Thon team and the Holy Land Experience cast members, will take us “from glory to glory”!