In 1971, Shirley and I were prayerfully considering going as missionaries to Africa. Our mission was to develop a television media outreach starting in Kenya and then spreading to other African countries. However, in the process God made it clear to us that we were not to go to Africa. Instead, we were to be involved in Christian television right here in America. It was a difficult time emotionally because while I knew my calling was in television media ministry, I had a special place in my heart for missions and the idea of developing an African media outreach was exciting.
Shirley and I did come to realize that after 11 years in secular television, our direction was American Christian television instead of the African mission field. But we had no way of knowing that His path would eventually lead to Chicago to become a part of the incredible ministry of TLN. A ministry that over the past 40 years has blessed millions and brought hope and salvation to multiple thousands of souls – because of your ongoing support. A ministry that is now expanding into an international media outreach – because of your faithful prayers!
We also had no way of knowing at the time that eventually God’s path would include Africa! Of course, people can watch TLN and TLNWest globally on their computers and mobile devices through the tremendous technology of streaming. But, now I’m excited to announce that doors have opened for the Total Living Network’s programs to air in television homes within an area dear to our hearts – and that’s Africa. This spring our series, Aspiring Women, Significant Insights, Exalted Higher and our Mercy Ships special began airing in 47 African countries! Aspiring Women is a TLN original series of which Shirley was the executive producerand co-host. Through dramatic storytelling and lively interviews, always staying centered in the spirit and truth of God’s Word, Aspiring Women gives viewers something to think about, talk about and share with other people.
Journey is the teaching series that I wrote and hosted. In addition to exploring answers to some of life’s most interesting and challenging questions, I share practical lessons personally learned from challenges in my own life such as growing up with an inferiority complex as a teenager and my battles with cancer as an adult. Significant Insights features a broad-range of compelling interviews with extraordinary people of faith. The series includes interviews with some of the leading voices in Christianity and Judaism and gets the “story behind the story” to bring new insight and emotion to your television viewing. Exalted Higher is hosted by Sibyl Meyer, a Christian vocalist in her own right who currently serves as Director of Programs and On-air Operations for TLN. This series presents music videos and interviews from some of the latest Christian artists around, both known and unknown and touches on all genres of Christian music; from pop, Gospel, Country, hip hop and a few throwback classics.
Acts of Mercy is a special produced by Total Living Network and Bill Kurtis, a nationally acclaimed journalist and television producer, in cooperation with Mercy Ships. The program focuses on the candidates for surgery and the skilled volunteer surgeons and physicians who feel called to help the poor of West Africa. (Mercy Ships has agreed to be used as a floating hospital for victims of COVID-19.)
And in addition, our TLN COVID-19 Prayer Specials were also broadcast in Africa. Little did we dream that, when this opportunity for additional viewers in Africa opened up, our entire planet would be facing a pandemictogether, and that these timely ministry programs would be shared into those homes as well. And of course, you are a part of this expansion through your faithful partnership with us. In fact, whether you have donated to TLN for years or are considering renewing your support, you are part of the launch of this tremendous outreach. We are entering into this ministry opportunity together. TLN’s expansion into Africa is an incredible opportunity for us to be a part of the fulfillment of the command to carry the gospel to “to the end of the earth.” And it is gratifying to know that after all these years, God is continuing to fulfill His plan for TLN as well as in our personal lives.
In Habakkuk 2 it is written, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Your support has helped make this fulfillment happen and you are so appreciated. What we didn’t understand in 1971 is now becoming clear. Africa was part of God’s plan for our ministry all along, but according to His timing not ours and in a completely different way than we imagined. As a word of encouragement to you, God has a plan for you and as you are faithful to Him, He will bring it to pass…in His time and in His way. We keep you in prayer that God’s vision in your life “will surely come; it will not tarry.”
These are the kinds of opportunities we have prayed and believed God for. As we expand, we also remain committed to the local communities we serve. It was a thrill to expand our relationship with Moody Bible Institute to be able to broadcast Founder’s Week LIVE this year on our television stations and IP platforms.
Working with Chicagoland United in Prayer, and other faith-based local outreaches, we keep you informed and encouraged with the good going on in the Chicago and San Francisco markets. Most recently, we produced eighteen programs in our studio just before the shelter-in-place mandates took place: our COVID-19 Prayer Specials featured a variety of pastors discussing how we can view the coronavirus crisis through a spiritual lens. And we’ve produced several more COVID-19 Prayer Specials via technology like Zoom. CareForce volunteers took live calls to lift up viewers’ prayer requests during each airing. Our dedication to our local communities has not changed. God has also opened the door of opportunity to expand into an international ministry and we must respond. Acts 1:8 tells us: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” That command calls for reaching our local communities and the world. For TLN to continue to effectively reach our communities and the world, we need your prayers and your support. Without it we are not able to continue as a media outreach. It’s that simple. You are a vital part of our ministry and without you there will be no TLN. I am personally asking you to spend time in prayer for TLN this month. It may be five minutes or five hours – whatever God is laying on your heart. God has opened the doors for this new outreach in Africa and we are believing that His people will respond to help fund this important opportunity. And so I’m also personally asking you to give a very generous gift this month. Your gift of $25.00, $50.00, $100.00 or maybe even $500.00 will be an incredible blessing to us as we continue to offer biblical truth to our communities and the world. Setting up a monthly gift electronically is easier than ever at www.tln.com/donate. We have an exciting and serious challenge ahead of us and your financial help is needed more than ever.
Never has there been a time that I been more called to the mission than now. There is so much going on that none of us has control over. My comfort is in the fact that I KNOW Who does. I believe those of us living in this unique time have been called to a unique purpose. So, my prayer is for supernatural, called-to-the-mission of Christ faith, strength and determination. I trust that you are in a similar place – using faith rather than fear as your guide and God’s will for you as your compass. When we have confidence in our Creator, then we have confidence in His plan for us. Nothing can separate us from God who is our rock, our fortress and our deliverer! That message is important to tell.
TLN is made up of a team with exactly that kind of faith and an added helping of a calling to its mission.
I have seen that calling in overdrive throughout these past months. So much so, I wanted to share this behind the scenes look with you who are most closely related to our ministry through prayerful and financial support. You have sacrificed to see that TLN has a voice not only in your neighborhood but now ever increasingly in other parts of the world.
TLN’s small but mighty team did not shy away from our mission when we learned of the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, we quickly identified ways to become a lighthouse of prayer and a spiritual resource on a daily basis as details of this dreadful pandemic unfolded. We knew we needed to implement safeguards for our employees and guests, and support local and state regulations. But, that did not mean we had to stop communicating the Gospel message when there was an even greater need for TLN’s message of hope. In fact, television viewership has grown 121% during some dayparts as people search to find truth while sheltered in place. TLN found a way to respond to this ever-changing environment with the never-changing message of Christ.
The COVID-19 Prayer program series created a daily opportunity to find strength and unite in prayer.
Seekers also found timely segments throughout the broadcast day to inspire hope and build faith.
Our team discovered new ways to create up-to-the-minute broadcasts when our usual means of production became unavailable.
The CareForce prayer line remained open for caring, confidential conversations.
TLN provided a televised platform for pastors who have been unable to hold traditional services, and we continued to be a mainstay for all your favorite programs.
TLN will continue as a spiritual oasis because we are called to the mission.
I pray that you are called to the mission more than ever before, too! Communicate Christ through every means He gives you!And please seriously consider how you can help TLN this month. While viewership is up, donations are impacted differently. Consider making a generous gift for those who are unable to give.
We count you as part of our “behind the scenes” team. I encourage you to continue to be part of our “behind the scenes” story during this historical season of ministry.