God Is Calling, Will You Answer?
On May 28, 2013, Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world's largest religious broadcaster and America's most-watched faith channel, celebrates its 40th anniversary. On the occasion, TBN founder and President, Dr. Paul Crouch, offered the following reflection on the spiritual state of the world forty years ago and today.
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When Trinity Broadcasting Network first signed on the air May 28, 1973, on a tiny, barely functioning low-power station we had recently acquired in Southern California, my wife, Jan, and I had no idea how to “do” Christian television. There were no models, no guide books, no marketing experts to tell us what viewers wanted or would watch. In fact, we weren't even sure anyone would tune in! All we knew was that God had called us to use the medium of television to be a part of fulfilling His great commission, to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” So we began, with one borrowed camera, a shower curtain for a backdrop, two folding chairs — and hearts full of faith that God would bless our efforts.
To our surprise and great joy, people did tune in! At first, just local Christians, but before long others began calling in — people in motel rooms, bars, and homes across the area that needed hope, healing, and salvation. By the end of that year 3,000 people had come to Christ as the result of our little TV ministry, and by 1975 18,000 souls had come into God’s Kingdom!
TBN certainly wasn't unique at the time. God was pouring out His Spirit on countless individuals, churches, and ministries. Many answered the call to win the lost, disciple new believers, and equip those new converts for the work of the Gospel and this last great Kingdom harvest. Like many ministries, TBN faced its share of opposition, obstacles, hardships, and fiery attacks from the enemy. More than once we were tempted to give up because we felt that what God had called us to do was just too difficult.
But God was faithful! Even in our weakness and temptations to quit, we kept on in faith pouring our time, resources, and prayer into the one local TV station He had given us. By 1983 that one station had become six located in strategic areas across the nation. In another ten years those half dozen stations grew to over 300 stations and affiliates — each one broadcasting the Good News 24/7! In the meantime, God was busy around the world opening up areas that had been closed and even antagonistic to the Gospel. We literally stood and watched God miraculously open awesome doors to foreign lands.
Here is one example: In the former Soviet Union, where Christianity had been outlawed for more than 70 years, TBN was welcomed to open first one, then another Christian TV station. Today six unique TBN affiliate networks in Russia broadcast life-changing programming around the world. And last year TBN Russia even launched a special network, the Shalom Channel, in the heart of Israel, broadcasting the Gospel to millions of Russian Jews who have returned to their homeland.
In a similar way, as we prayed and looked for a way to reach Muslim countries, God miraculously opened doors. TBN helped establish two global networks, one broadcasting in the Arabic language and one in the Farsi language. These networks now reach millions of Arab and Iranian Muslims in the Middle East and around the world.
Today, 40 years after its launch with that one small station, TBN has grown, through simple obedience to God’s voice and by His amazing power, to 24 distinct networks on every inhabited continent, plus nearly 18,000 television and cable affiliates worldwide, fed by over 80 international satellite channels. This is not to mention its global reach via the Internet and TBN Mobile. Most importantly, to date more than 36 million men, women, and children that we know of (only God knows how many more) have come to faith in Christ because of TBN’s worldwide evangelical outreach.
Yes, the world we live in today is far different than it was in 1973. Unrest is heating up in nearly every corner of the earth as never before. Opposition to the Gospel seems to be growing every day. Christian values are being done away with, cultural norms turned upside down, and lifestyles that used to be considered shameful are being celebrated. Shockingly, in some pockets of our beloved America, prayer, Scripture, and sharing one's faith have been all but outlawed, and in many countries believers are being imprisoned and even killed for their faith in Christ. Sadly, this deteriorating state of the world has caused many Christians to shrink back in fear, and to grow increasingly passive and pessimistic.
But now is not the time to be silenced! What the apostle Paul declared to the early church still holds today: “behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Just as Joshua encouraged the children of Israel to take the Promised Land and to be “strong and of good courage,” let us take courage — God is on our side. Even as darkness increases across the earth, He is raising up people to carry the message of salvation throughout the nations of the world. The earth is filled with people who need to know Jesus, and God is urgently calling His church to be part of this mighty end-time harvest of souls through prayer, partnering with good ministries, and by reaching out to our families, friends, neighbors, and beyond.
The only qualification you need to be a soul winner for Christ is availability. When God called Jan and me to launch TBN, He didn't do so because we were the most talented and qualified. I often think of 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” There were many others with far more skill and resources than we had. He called us because we were willing to be used, regardless of the personal cost and sacrifice. And we had the simple faith to believe that God would lead us every step of the way and empower us to do the work.
Jesus declared that this life-giving message of the Gospel will be preached “in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Friend, the end has not come yet. There is still time for you to become a part of God's Kingdom work, to go beyond the “good enough” — the normal and mundane — and say “yes” to His high calling. It will cost you all you have. But it will be worth the price!
Colby May, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: 972-313-9500
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