Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

The Radio Preacher

We were in the middle of a church board meeting when suddenly, out of the blue, one of the board members said, “Why don’t you start a radio program?”

We had been discussing how to broaden the outreach of our church’s ministry. The idea of a radio program had never entered my mind.

I replied, “Why not? I’ll look into it and bring back the details.”

I contacted the local country and western AM station in town. I figured if we were going to reach the unchurched, we should pick a music format other than Christian music. Country music seemed the logical choice for our community.

The radio manager told me I could have a weekly 30 minute time slot for $25.00 a program. That seemed reasonable to me.

I took the idea back to the church. We agreed that we would put the idea before the church folks and let God impress upon people to support the radio ministry, or not.

Each Sunday morning a container was placed on a stand at the entrance of the church, next to where I stood shaking hands. The container was labeled “radio ministry.” The idea was if we raised $25.00 we would have enough for a program. If we did not, then we would take it as God’s leading to discontinue the radio program.

There was never a Sunday for years to come that we did not get at least $25.00 for the radio program.

Right away I signed up for a time slot. Since the radio station read the local obituaries each day at 12:00 noon, I chose the 11:30 am to 12:00 noon time slot. I reasoned that I might catch those in the community who tuned in to hear the obituaries, and present them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Each program began with a welcome and the program title, which we called “Memorial Moments.” I would give a quick run down of what was going on at the church and invite the folks to worship on Sunday morning. Then I gave the service times and the directions to the church. After that I gave a brief 15 minute teaching message. Then I closed the service with another brief invitation to come and worship with us, and told the listeners that we would be back on next week at the same time.

Before long our church started to get visitors attending our worship services who had heard about us on the radio. Not only that, but I started to get recognized in the community by the sound of my voice. Strangers would come up to me in public and say, “I listen to you on the radio. I know you by voice.”

My favorite memory was one day I turned on the radio to the station and they were playing the most popular country song in the country, Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” As soon as it was over, the next words over the air were mine saying, “Welcome to Memorial Moments!” I remember thinking, “Billy Ray Cyrus and then me. I have hit the big time at last!”

The years I broadcast the radio ministry of “Memorial Moments” were some of the most exciting and most interesting times of my life.

I learned two important lessons from that experience:

One: How vital it is to be flexible and ready to step out in faith when an opportunity comes along. I do not think I would have ever thought of starting a radio program had the board member not brought it up out of the blue. But once it was on the table, in spite of the many excuses we could have come up with to not do it (not the least of which was the fact we did not have money in the budget to pay for it), we took a step of faith and said, “Why not? Let’s give it a try.”

Two: I learned first hand that where God guides, God provides. I never had to worry about where the money for the program was going to come from. Each week the money came in. Someone put it this way, “If it is God’s will, then it is God’s bill.”

As I look back now, $25.00 a week seems like a small amount, but at the time it was huge. It was totally a venture of faith. We put a container out each week and trusted that God would lead people to contribute to it, and they did. I never had to make an announcement that we needed money for the radio program, nor did I have to make appeals on the radio for people to contribute to keep “Memorial Moments” on the air.

The two great benefits of the program that I witnessed were:

First, my faith grew by long strides as I believed God to provide for the program.

Second, I was given the awesome joy to teach God’s Word across the larger area of our community than just the folks in our congregation.

Even now, years later, “Memorial Moments” is still one of the most important ministry opportunities God has brought to me. I am so glad that we responded in faith when God came calling.

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