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So here I sit, in the British Airways lounge at Heathrow Airport. I’m between two flights, from Nairobi to London, and then, in a while, home to Los Angeles. It’s been a short, action-packed and exhilarating trip.
I’ve been participating in a fabulous project mounted by GODTV, the worldwide satellite Christian channel that is seen already in 214 nations by an estimated 400 million people of all tribes and tongues. The channel, broadcast 24/7 all over the world, was launched from their small apartment in England barely 15 years ago by Rory and Wendy Alec, then just a zealous young couple who wanted to touch, if not radically change, the world.
Neither had any experience in TV or knew anybody who did. They just felt they had to do something to affect the moral and spiritual climate around them. So they found a way to start a little chatty program on local TV where they were, in a small English working town. They weren’t preachers, and they didn’t try to sound or look like they were. They were just friendly, animated and concerned neighbors who wanted to get people around them excited about the love of God and His willingness to help them make sense of their lives.
Their naïve earnestness was appreciated almost immediately, and a group of supporters began to form around them, encouraging them to reach out to a larger audience. Soon they were picked up by other stations, and they eventually went to satellite, all while their programming expanded to include others who had contemporary messages and approaches to helping ordinary people find deep meaning and purpose in their lives, including personal relationship with the living God.
The last few years have flown by, as Rory and Wendy, still completely unchanged by it all, have seen their “little program” extend around the clock and around the world. They moved their main studios and program origination to Jerusalem, and they often bring their millions of viewers right into the studios, showing them the walls on which tens of thousands of viewers glimpse their own pictures covering every inch of all the walls. Their satellite dishes are planted in all the 214 countries, and they continually find ways to connect Christian believers in all those countries with their elated brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
It’s deeply moving to see and hear Christians in non-Christian nations like Egypt, India and Pakistan, in South America, Africa and Asia have the opportunity to share their faith and experience with millions of others worldwide. Instead of being little isolated pockets of believers huddled together in largely alien territory, they are able to connect with massive multitudes of fellow believers who, till GODTV, knew nothing about them.
There’s a strong young contemporary feeling about it all, a kind of “edge,” a kind of innocent, in-your-face reality about it that captures channel surfers, especially the young who are looking everywhere, anywhere, for something worth being involved in and committed to. On GODTV you often see eager young kids and adults, alone on international television, expressing their own faith in their own words, exhorting others like them to check out the Bible and get to know Jesus, the One who has changed and redirected their lives.
It’s kids communicating with kids, young adults communicating with other young adults, people to people, virtually face to face. It’s not connected to any church or church group; it’s completely independent, supported by individuals and families, viewers who are feeding on the enthusiasm and electric faith of others, especially that of Wendy and Rory. It’s quite simply, and profoundly, TV about God and what He wants to do for each person on this planet.
This amazing couple felt a compulsion not just to talk about the Christian life, but to exemplify the best of it. They founded a humanitarian subsidiary, Angel Mission, to affect the lives of the poorest and most needy in the world, and they’re doing incredible things. It’s this humanitarian aspect with which my wife Shirley and I have become involved.
They’ve launched a gigantic program called “Capetown to Cairo,” a beautifully conceived plan to drill deep freshwater wells up and down the whole continent of Africa, where people by the millions are languishing without clean water – and too often without any available water at all – and where 40 to 50 percent of children won’t live to the age of 5 because of the poisoned, corrupted water they drink.
Clean water, and with it small medical clinics and even basic primary and secondary schools, are literally life-changing developments, offering healthy lives and unthought-of futures to countless thousands who otherwise would live and die with no chance even to participate in the 21st century.
Shirley and I have had the opportunity to fund a Life Center, as these wells and surrounding facilities are called, in a faraway region, out in “the bush” in Tanzania. I’m returning now from helping dedicate with GODTV and Rory Alec this latest Life Center. And the grateful welcome of the people and their tribal leaders, many of whom walked 20 miles or more across the barren, arid land, moved me to tears repeatedly.
Back in Nairobi, Rory and I and several of his team shared a van ride through the awful, interminable traffic clog – and had an unforgettable talk with the Kenyan driver, a sharp young black man named Koriuki (sounds like karaoke). Knowing we were Christians, he challenged us with questions about racial prejudice, religious divisions and the tragedies too often associated with those divisions.
“Do you think these things will ever change?” he asked. We told him we couldn’t predict, but we were doing our part to make things better. Rory asked Koriuki, “What do you believe, and what are you doing about these things?”
He answered thoughtfully, “I’m a Christian, too. And I think the best thing I can do is live what I believe. I’m just one man, but I can be a good example to those around me.”
Friend, he preached a powerful sermon to us in that van. And we encouraged him by telling him that we – all of us who partner with GODTV – are trying to do just what he’s doing.
To live what we believe.
If you can find GODTV, most accessible on DirecTV, please join us.