“Don’t Forsake the Assembling of Ourselves Together”
It would appear that the first chapter of this ‘book’ is coming to its end. Soon this ministry will move to a new location, and uniquely in January we will began the next 100 WBVN concerts. The title of the first chapter of our book is based on the scripture found in Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us consider one another to provoke (or: incite) unto Love and to good (or: His) works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…exhorting (or encouraging) one another. That’s how we look at the opportunity to share with so many listeners each day. We ‘gather’ each day and have one heart about the Gospel message found in the CCM heard here. Likewise, our concerts have provided so many interesting ‘gatherings’ and so many wonderful stories of making differences in peoples lives.
Each week approximately twelve to fifteen thousand people tune into this station for that ‘exhortation.’ Even more literally, we have gathered together 100 times with 61,517 attendees having one purpose, one heart at WBVN concerts.
I mentioned in an earlier letter that it is almost impossible to know the exact beginning of anything. I know that in 1983 we attended a contemporary Christian concert in St. Louis and heard a song titled I Have Decided. It was that night that we began to hope ‘someone’ would do a contemporary Christian station in the area. We never thought that we would be directly involved. But that was one of the starting points for WBVN. We had no idea that going to that concert would ‘reap a harvest’ that affects thousands of other believers each day. We go back to that point because that evening ended up being the ‘spark’ for the establishment of WBVN seven years later. Today we continue to produce concerts because we ‘just never know’ what might be sparked out of the next one for some other generation of believers.
The first chapter of this book is full of great memories…
I remember the first check we got in the mail to help support this radio ministry. It was from a 76 year-old grandfather that had a heart for our purpose for the next generation of believers. I have that check framed at my desk.
A fella from Dallas came on cold January that first year and thought so much of this ministry and these people that he has returned every year for 17 years to share and help fund this ministry.
We have had the pleasure of introducing you to the ministries of many of the founders of CCM: Randy Stonehill, Margaret Becker. Bryan Duncan, Ray Boltz, Michael Card. We have also been permitted to share the more recent influences in CCM: Casting Crowns, Big Tent Revival, NewSong, Mercy Me, Natalie Grant, Nicole Nordeman, Big Daddy Weave and so many others. Sadly, on an autumn day in 1997, we all had to share in saying good-by to one of the WBVN favorites: Rich Mullins.
We have enjoyed a variety of types of music influenced by the Gaithers, a man named Peacock, and the college band out of Greenville, Illinois simply referred to as Jars of Clay. We have experienced Worship from the likes of Michael W. Smith, Selah, and Darlene Zschech. We have sang along and cried with Mercy Me in the song that I think is probably the number one song in our listeners’ minds for all the years we have broadcast: I Can Only Image. We have been comforted by Rich Mullins’s Hold Me Jesus. We’ve cranked it up with Audio Adrenaline’s Big House. Years ago, Third Day stopped by and spent a couple hours with us. That was before they had the big recording contract. In the last year many of us have been touched by the heart of an artist from Colby Kansas. He loves to give those ‘mini-backstage concerts.’ An artist that says this area is his second home and his favorite place to sing. He chose to
give us one moment in time– May 6th, 2005– frozen for the rest of our lives on a DVD, a DVD that would become platinum-selling, Dove Award winning CD by Mark Schultz.
We had a ‘sacred’ moment at the old Marion Civic Center a few years back where a lady named Carla spent one of her last evenings before ‘going home.’ She got to see, meet and be sung to by her favorite CCM artists Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean.
We have had one artist get lost and end up in Mt. Vernon just prior to his Marion Civic Center concert. One got iced-in at the St. Louis airport and finally arrived at John A Logan about 9:30 one evening and still performed until well after midnight. Everyone had stayed and waited for him to arrive, and he did not disappoint.
And, oh, the Bryan Duncan stories!
As WBVN listeners, we have cried, laughed, prayed and hoped together for almost 18 years now. In this chapter, my dad died. Everything that we have said and sang about on this radio station came to a crossroad in my heart. The encouragement shared on WBVN was put to the test during that one November week.
Within the next 90 days WBVN will began Chapter Two in this story. Chapter Two has not been written yet. We do know a few things about it: we will pack up and move to a different building soon, and we are looking to expand our vision for the events we produce at the Civic Center. Recently we have been talking to a company that would partner with us to bring in an Off-Broadway Christian Musical this next spring (we’ll let you know if we can pull that off). We know we will begin our next concert series on January 13th. It will be a Contemporary Worship concert with a couple that are national worship leaders Christy and Nathan Nockels. With them will be old friends John Cox with his band mates Brett, Tom and Todd.
We also know that the next chapter will include much of the first. We will not let go of the songs that have been such a part of our past 17 years. You will still get ‘more music, more often.’ We will not forsake gathering together each day (and occasionally in concert). We will continue to exhort our listeners to His good works. I believe we all have Christ as the center of our faith and this ministry does not try and find out what are differences are but celebrates those things we have in common.
We won’t switch to a ‘new horse’ when it comes to financing the ministry. We have designed this ministry to be vulnerable. We depend entirely upon you to determine if we stay or go away. Simply, if we remain relevant to your Christian walk then we need you to help us remain. We have the financial philosophy that money should follow ministry not that ministry should follow money. We pledge to keep it in that order.
Amazingly, we have broadcast encouragement to our listeners for over 9 million minutes. We started that on January 8th, 1990. Now, the children that began with us as eight-year-olds are 26, and many of them have children of their own. They will have a role in writing Chapter Two.
Come join with us. This ‘gathering’ of the first chapter can continue and with you in it makes it even more enjoyable for all of us. If, as some suggest, this is the last days, we will all go out praising God with hymns and songs. If it’s not the last days, we will all still be praising Him ‘all the day long’ until we can praise no more. We are not dependent upon our understanding to praise Him; we are dependent only upon His being worthy of praise for us to continue bring you FM 104.5.