Retrospective on Words of Hope, Part 1

Rev. David Bast Uncategorized

Lee DeYoung: Welcome to Words of Hope. This is the first of two special programs as we are now in transition. Two weeks from today, a new format will take place on the air called  Groundwork. In these last two programs, we want to reflect together: David Bast, Words of Hope's President and Broadcast Minister, and his predecessor Dr. Bill Brownson, who served until 1994 and is President Emeritus, and is still heard on the radio programs. At this special time of the year, in this second to the last in this series of Words of Hope programs, we want to think about the focal point of what the mission has been about, about what Words of Hope programs have really featured and focused upon.

Dave Bast: Yes. That's really been a consistent theme for the whole 65 years that this ministry has been in existence. I sometimes hearken back to the original mission statement: “to proclaim Jesus Christ in the languages of the world's peoples, Jesus Christ as the world's only Savior.” And that's what we've always done; that's what we continue to do. I mean, our hearts beat because of the passion we have that the world needs to hear the good news of Christ and to hear that as God's Word is opened, explained, and applied to our lives. That's what, I think, has driven this from the beginning, Bill.

Bill Brownson: Yes, that's what drew me to want to be a part of this. Ever since I became a Christian, I have felt the desire to reach as many people as I possibly could with the good news of Christ and to have the opportunity to do this by radio in such a far-reaching way, and to lift up Christ, and to remember in every program that we want to present enough of the gospel so that any person listening would be able to respond in repentance and faith to Jesus.

Dave Bast: Yes, you never know who's going to listen just that one time, or what it is that's going to be used by the Spirit to touch that person's heart, but surely it has to be a focus on Christ.

Bill Brownson: It always does. This is the great message of the Bible, the good news of God's salvation in Christ.

Lee DeYoung: And that's what drew me to the radio broadcast. I have been in it for twenty-five years at Words of Hope, and it was the idea that using this medium of radio where people can listen who maybe can't be reached in any other way that I might be able to really make a difference for Christ, and it's been an exciting journey.

Dave Bast: Yes, I've often said that radio is perfect for this because it's word centered. And, of course, “the Word became flesh” and the Bible is the Word of God written, so to be able to listen, to let that kind of soak in, without necessarily having pictures interfere, to me is a key element.

Bill Brownson: And a great thing about it is that when you preach the good news by radio, you speak to individuals where they are. They have the sense that they are being addressed by God and his Word in a personal way, and that's always a joy. I remember getting a plaque from somebody that said, “Remember you're speaking only to me.”

Lee DeYoung: Words of Hope has many different people doing programs in many different parts of the world, and I think a common theme I've been so appreciative of in all of them is a firm sense of calling. That's what drew you, Bill. You were in a seminary position, and in the early seventies you made that big change.

Bill Brownson: That was the most difficult decision I ever faced because I loved what I was doing at the seminary and trying to encourage students in preaching the gospel. But I realized as the call came from what was then Temple Time that the deepest thing in my life, the greatest passion of my life, was to present the gospel to others. And especially the missionary vision was beginning to expand and Temple Time drew me, to be able to bring the gospel to people who would not otherwise hear it in any way. So though it was a hard decision and one that my wife had difficulty with at first, we took a weekend just to get away and pray and talk about this, and finally she realized it was the passion of my heart and she was willing to go along with it, and I've always been grateful that I was allowed to minister at Words of Hope.

Lee DeYoung: I appreciated having you as my Professor of Preaching when I was at Western Seminary just a year before that happened, and when I heard that you had been made that decision, it just seemed right to me. I'm certainly glad that you did, and I think there are many multitudes out in that audience who share that feeling.

Bill Brownson: How about you, David?

Dave Bast: In a sense it was similar for me. I was in pastoral ministry in the early 1990s, and I was really quite familiar with the work of Words of Hope. I had served on the board, and before that I had a family connection. Maybe we'll talk about that next week in the next program. But it's all a little bit different when the call comes and you're invited now to shift directions and come full time into this work. I remember going away for a day on a kind of retreat and I just opened a devotional that I was using and it directed me to John chapter 4, and the end of the chapter where Jesus talks about the fields being white unto harvest, and he says, “I'm sending you to reap where you did not sow.” And to me that was God's direct word saying, “You're going to now take up this work. Others have done the hard part and are doing the hard part, and maybe you'll have some of the blessing of seeing a harvest come in as you add your little bit.” So it was just this very clear sense that this is what God was calling me to do, something I still feel today. I still feel as excited and called. And Bill, you mentioned the missionary aspect of it. That's what really turns me on and gets me going in the morning: the idea of all these other people, in Africa, in the Middle East, who are using the same medium to reach out in their language to their people. We're helping them do that.

Bill Brownson: And I guess we both felt that there's no greater privilege that can ever be given to people than to do what we do here, what Paul said, “To me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, to proclaim among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ,” and to be able to do that by radio is just a marvelous privilege and gift from God.

Dave Bast: Yes, with my last breath, I'd like to commend my Savior, I who am but an unworthy servant, to commend the Lord Jesus to one and all.

Lee DeYoung: In this special Words of Hope program, we're focusing on our overall purpose. Next week we'll go back and look at some of our history and hear some excerpts from some of those programs. But the theme that runs all the way from 1945 to today, and I believe will continue in the weeks and months and years to come, Lord willing, in the  Groundwork program, is the passion to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which of course people all around the world are especially mindful of at this time of the year.

Bill Brownson: Yes, that's been a privilege beyond all others to lift up Christ through this medium to many, many people around the world.

Dave Bast: What we preach is not ourselves, said the apostle, but Christ crucified. I think of Paul's summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3 where he says, “I delivered to you what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures.” And that's, I think, what we're both passionate, what all true ministers of the gospel, are passionate to proclaim. Not a message we've invented, not about us or ourselves or our personalities, but it's something that's been entrusted to us, it's been given to us first, we've received it by tradition, you know, the handing on generation to generation, and it focuses on Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, yes, his life and death and ascension and power, but “according to the Scriptures.” It's all about opening the Bible.

Bill Brownson: We are privileged to do that. We have this gospel, and we are privileged to share it with the whole world in a way that we could never do without the medium of radio. And we have felt such an enormous privilege that our voices can be multiplied. Our voices can be resounding throughout the world through the proclamation of the gospel by radio.

Lee DeYoung: And the words that you, Bill and Dave, and before that Henry Bast, have crafted and put into these English language programs, have been taken and adapted in so many different parts of the world, and they have really helped people who come from different areas and different cultures, to be able to take this timeless truth of the gospel and apply it to their specific situation. We recently heard from someone who was in Sudan, and some programs have gone on the air in the Bari language, and a bishop whose living right there in the field said he learned about some new people that he could go minister to who spoke his language, who were believers, and he didn't even realize they were there until they responded to the radio programs. So even somebody right there on the front lines in the field found that the radio helped to connect him with people who already had faith in Jesus Christ. They heard it that way.

Dave Bast: I think that that's a good illustration of how God's Word finds its own audience in a way. If it's heard, if it's proclaimed, people will listen and respond. One of my all-time favorite stories from all my years here was visiting a former producer (he's now with the Lord), but he was working in Southeast Asia in the Hmong language, and I was visiting with him and he showed me a stack of papers with names on it, just name after name after name. He said, “This came to me with a cover letter saying, 'We heard you speaking about the Lamb's Book of Life on the radio, and we want you to please enter our names in that book.'” And he was able to tell them, “Well, your names are already there if you've come to faith in Christ.” But just the power of the Word to reach an audience.

Bill Brownson: We are blessed to have this wonderful gospel committed to our hands, that we can share in the marvelous medium of radio with the whole world, and we feel immensely privileged to be able to do that for these years.

Lee DeYoung: In just two weeks now, the Groundwork program will begin. This is taking the basic idea of Words of Hope and combining with another sister ministry with whom we've ministered fruitfully, The Back to Hour Ministries, and that's going to be an exciting new way of reaching people through radio.

Dave Bast: Yes, I think it will be, and it's going to be a little different format. It's a partnership with two ministries and two different denominations. It's going to be a dialogue program, but the message is going to be the same, the message we proclaim today: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ is coming again.” That's the Easter gospel. Hallelujah!