This May newsletter follows a huge amount of ministry opportunities for us. It started in February with a Downhere and Chris and Conrad concert. Both encouraged us and focused on the Gospel message we all hold dear. We followed that with a full house at the March 20th, Michael O’Brien and Allen Asbury event. Michael’s generosity to our listeners is evident. In twenty years, Allen was the first opening artist to ever get a standing ovation, a terrific ministry moment. We just finished having a three day Celebration event and we tagged a Rush of Fools concert in the middle of it just for good measure. This month we bring in, for the first time, one of the most successful ministry bands in CCM, BarlowGirl. And just recently, we announced a very unique, special night with Mark Schultz. Mark is coming in on Thursday night, June 17th, for an intimate, personal good-bye for the next year as he and his wife Kate spend a year in Italy. All of those ‘gatherings’ and the time we spend on the radio each day, week, month, year and years caused me to think about how this all began. I’ve written about the license process before and I have shared some of the significant things that happened to us along the way. There have been real miracles over the 20 years to tell about for sure, much more than we can include in a newsletter.
How we started the station physically has a parallel story of how the station ‘started us’. Over the years, especially back in the late 1980’s, many people were aggressively trying to do something for God. That’s a wonderful motivation; I understand it, and I applaud the desire to do just that. However, my point of view is a bit different than that. I’m always careful about how to express the way Jane and I found ourselves involved with the Gospel in such a full time way as WBVN. It simply started by doing the Gospel out of our hearts. We had no idea, dream or vision for establishing any organization. And, while I can’t tell you how to discover entirely what God has in store for you, I can share how all this (much more than we could have ever imagined) has happened at this radio station. Be careful here. This is not a formula, it is not doctrine. It’s not about our Faith level. It is a simple testimony to God’s presence and fingerprints on just a couple people’s lives that followed their hearts without knowing where that might lead them.
Let me begin this way. WBVN is the result of something much simpler, much more subtle for us. Sometimes listeners inquire about how to set up a ministry, how to do a radio station, where do they find ‘their’ ministry, or just simply how do they find an audience for what they want to share so much. I usually tell them, man, you’re talking to the wrong guy. Find someone that knows about all that. Our experience was so different than that. We were not looking to establish anything; actually we were looking to simplify our lives rather than increase our role or take on a 24 hour a day responsibility, and a new and significant financial responsibility to boot.
You see, we spent a dozen years telling people about the Love of God, the Grace and Mercy of God and doing that privately and weekly in a small Bible study in a friend’s home. The only thing we were consistent about was telling people about the Love of God. It was the Love, Grace and Mercy thing that carried us along. It never crossed our minds that we would be able to talk that in front of thousands of believers for 20 years. While that would have been wonderful to find, we were not looking to find thousands of like-minded people to gather together. We simply made a decision to invest our lives in the lives of people that we were already in relationship with; caring about them, sharing with them, loving them. Ours was simply to do things that God had put in front of us to do at that very moment. When life was easy, we praised God. When life was hard we praised God.
Jane and I both believe that if you encourage others, you will find encouragement in that effort. If you are generous, people will be generous. If you care, people will find some way to care back. If you hope, people hope with you. We came to serve people as best we could, even with limited personal ability, but do that without hype and self-promotion. Neither of us is talented enough to do that anyway.
Doing that kind of Gospel ‘service’ may not create an obvious response as fast as we all sometimes want, but any response will be real and lasting from the people you touch with ministry. Abraham waited 25 years for a promised son, Paul was 15 years in the wilderness, Jesus was a carpenter for 30 years before ever doing one miracle. I’ve mentioned before, the first month we were on the air our donations were $360. It took three years before we paid every bill, covered every cost with the contributions that came to WBVN. Today, we still live month to month, but we have been in a consistent partnership with our listeners for more than 20 years and we will continue to do this as long as that partnership is intact. Your prayers and financial support affirmed that partnership during this past Celebration.
Our theme of ministry is, that instead of doing something for God, do something with Him. That puts us in the position of following and being lead rather than out in front and seeking Him to bless our ideas and imaginations. That’s how Jesus lived, it was not just good intentions that directed him, he did the things that he saw the Father doing. He never wrote a book, never recorded a song, and never started any organization other than the togetherness of a common people with a common belief.
People sometimes think that we planned to get involved with Christian radio, had an idea, or made a decision to do radio for God. We did not. We found ourselves here. We followed the footsteps already laid down for us. Now I get it when people express themselves about doing something for God. We’ve been trained for thousands of years to do something, do anything, and do it for Jesus. My encouragement is to take the opportunities that He is providing in your daily life and do them eagerly. Do those simple things for God as a first step, the complicated ones will follow. For us it has been a journey that we never imagined, one we did not plan.
My unsolicited advice, don’t spend your life beating down doors that you have chosen to open; find the ones that God sends you to. Live ‘deeply’ in the moment you have been given with the people you have contact with today. Not all contact permits that, but there are people in our lives that we have been given to share life with, do it! Care for a few with no expectations of anything in return. As Paul teaches, be encouraged, be the same in season and out of season. Simply do the Gospel, and do the Gospel simply!