The year was 2006, and Kathy and I had just bought a new fifth-wheel travel trailer. It was our first one. A very nice Adventist dealer had sold it to us at a great price, befitting our budget.
At the time, I was president of the Arizona Conference. I can’t tell you for sure why we bought the trailer, except that God must have inspired us, because now – 11 years later – we still have it, and it’s our home here at the General Conference.
Currently, I have a larger one-ton truck to pull it, but when I first bought the trailer, I had a small three-quarter-ton truck, making the combined weight total more than 22,000 pounds. I remember wondering why people’s eyes got wide when they saw us pulling into a trailer park with our small truck hauling the large fifth-wheel. But I loved the truck, and I thought it could handle the 36-foot trailer just fine.
I had to find out the hard way that I was pushing the limit. You could say I discovered what an overdose of steroids feels like.
It happened as we were driving into Phoenix with the new trailer and small truck. The Sunday afternoon traffic on the six-lane highway averaged 65-miles per hour, and it was flowing smoothly. As we topped a small hill, all of a sudden all of the vehicles across the six lanes slammed on their brakes. I applied my brakes hard, and the trailer wheels locked and began to smoke … but we didn’t slow down.
God is blessing far beyond what we could have imagined.
In that moment, I knew without a doubt that we were going to run over all the cars in front of us, and that we would be killed … along with many others.
I felt something like an adrenaline rush. My heart was pounding, and even now – 11 years later – as I write about this experience, my heart races and I feel stressed all over again.
As I look back, I am sure Satan was not happy with what was happening in Arizona. You see, in a four-year period we would have over 800 evangelistic meetings, our tithes would increase by 17 percent, and our membership would go up by 45 percent!
Thankfully, God wouldn’t let the enemy win. What happened next was like the parting of the Red Sea. All of a sudden, three lanes over – including the exit ramp – all the cars went up onto the gravel, completely opening up one lane of traffic. Having grown up on a farm, I knew how to drive a truck and trailer, so I turned the steering wheel as hard and as fast as I could, and the trailer quickly followed two, then three lanes over. I turned the truck again as sharply as possible, and again the trailer followed, all 22,000 pounds – all the while never slowing down, even as the braked tires continued smoking.
We flew through that open exit lane, and that’s when I saw it. A long extension ladder had sailed off of a large truck and extended diagonally where it lay, closing all the lanes. God had saved our lives and that of others as well. It was like He was saying, “I still have work for you to do; I am not finished with you.”
God blessed the evangelism efforts in Arizona, and now we are seeing the same thing repeated all around the world with AWR360˚– From Broadcast to Baptism.
I recently told Kathy that being president of AWR is like living on God’s steroids. There are so many things happening, and God is blessing far beyond what we could have imagined. He wants His work finished, and He is opening wide the doors of service.
A couple of months ago, we returned to the island of Mindoro in the Philippines, where we began broadcasting just a year ago. A week before our visit, 500 precious souls were baptized – including the deputy mayor of the city of Roxas. This brought the total to 2,200 baptisms in less than a year, directly from AWR’s radio broadcasts!
You see, when we focus on leading people from broadcast to baptism, and when we pray … and pray, and pray … God works. Jesus said, “Go and preach and baptize … and I am with you always, even to the end of the earth!”
Recently, there were 17,968 baptisms in Zambia that resulted from an AWR360˚ project! What was even more exciting is that 80 percent were baptized as a direct result of listening to AWR broadcasts. That is truly AWR360˚ – From Broadcast to Baptism. We aired programs for several months, and then preachers from Zambia and Europe preached 1,070 evangelistic meetings. Yes, all at the same time! One thousand of those meetings were held in one city: Lusaka. This had never been done before. That’s why I feel the adrenaline rush, and that is why being president of AWR is like living a life on God’s steroids.
A year ago, we had no Adventist work in 69 villages in the mountains of Mindoro and Palawan. Now, thanks to AWR broadcasts, whole villages are asking how they can learn more about the Adventist message, how they can accept Jesus and become Adventists. We are not only broadcasting the message, but we’re also sponsoring Bible workers in the villages. Currently, we’re broadcasting on 10 radio stations in Mindoro, which we didn’t have a year ago.
God’s spirit works to convict hearts when we step out in faith.
A few weeks ago in Thailand, we met two ladies who were baptized several years ago thanks to AWR’s radio programs. Now, even with little education, they are presenting programs on AWR, running a radio station, and reaching multitudes for Jesus.
Then a few days after that, we were in Birmingham, England, where for the last few years churches have been turned into pubs. We just obtained seven partial licenses for FM radio. That’s unheard of! It’s never happened before that someone has received so many licenses at one time. That’s why I say that being president of AWR is like living life on God’s steroids: God is opening doors like never before.
I cannot tell you the whole story now, but there is a whole village in a distant land full of communist rebels. These rebels are in the process of giving their hearts to Jesus and preparing for baptism, because they are listening to our AWR broadcasts. Pray for us as we travel there in the near future by horseback to this hidden mountain village to baptize more than 160 of them.
Earlier this year, we visited Portugal, where AWR first began airing programs in 1971 with Elder Neal Wilson and Alan and Andrea Steele. Incidentally, the Steeles are now ambassadors in New Mexico for AWR360˚. They recently told our AWR team that when they saw our focus emphasis – From Broadcast to Baptism – they were excited, because it was the original intent of AWR way back in 1971 when the ministry first began. Interestingly enough, we now have a new FM station in Lisbon where we originally began in 1971 with shortwave radio.
As Kathy and I were driving to visit the station, the AWR team – a group of dedicated young men – told us that a number of years ago they acquired a commercial station. For several years, they continued broadcasting the same commercial format with a few occasional devotional programs. They said, “Do you know how many we baptized with this approach?” We shook our heads, so they answered, “Zero!”
But something changed three years ago. They decided to be bold, and they began broadcasting the Adventist prophetic message, along with Bible studies and the Adventist health message. Portugal is a country steeped in tradition and very difficult to reach with the gospel message, but since our team changed tactics, they have baptized 20 precious souls.
God’s spirit works to convict hearts when we step out in faith to boldly proclaim God’s end-time message. Jesus is coming soon … and we have to share the good news with the world!
That’s what it’s all about: adrenaline-rushing, steroid-pounding AWR360˚ – From Broadcast to Baptism!
Yours in the Blessed Hope,