Many of you have probably heard of Dr. Charles F. Stanley. He is the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been for fifty years. It is one of the most influential mega-churches in America. His weekly television broadcast is provided by In Touch Ministries. It reaches around the world and his name is widely known and respected in spiritual circles. Even if you never watch a “television preacher,” you have probably heard Dr. Stanley speak. He is not only a great pastor; he is also a wonderful motivational speaker as well. However, many people do not know how his television program got started. It is an interesting story.
In 1970 when Dr. Stanley became the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, there were only three television stations in the metro-Atlanta area – Channel 2, NBC; Channel 5, CBS; and Channel 11, ABC. (I know, some of you are having a hard time believing that there was ever a time when there were only three television stations, but that was the situation at that time.)
Each month, on a particular Saturday afternoon, Dr. Stanley would drive to the studio of Channel 11 television in downtown Atlanta to film four 30-minutes messages. The messages were then aired on the four following Sunday mornings. His part was to present each weekly message and the television station’s job was to film and broadcast them at the appropriate time each week.
One Saturday afternoon, Dr. Stanley had just finished recording his four 30-minutes messages in the recording studio. He was completely and utterly exhausted from putting so much time, effort and energy into the production. There was no studio audience – just Dr. Stanley and one camera-man…a “hippie,” as they were called in those days. Also, back in those days, people were allowed to smoke while on the job, which this man did. (Again, I am sure this is “blowing your mind” to know that people were actually allowed to smoke inside of a closed facility. Times certainly have changed!) Anyway…this guy was smoking something while he was doing the filming of Dr. Stanley’s messages.
As they had just finished filming and Dr. Stanley was gathering up his things to leave, the “hippie” turned to him, laughed and said, “Hey, man, I forgot to put film in the camera! We’re going to have to do this all over again!” Can you even begin to imagine how Dr. Stanley felt at that point in time, having poured his heart into four separate messages only to be told that he must do all four of them all over again? He was fuming, but there was nothing he could do except re-do them all because the programs still had to be filmed for viewing the following month.
On his way home that afternoon, Dr. Stanley felt disrespected, discouraged and was still upset about the time he had wasted filming everything twice. Suddenly, he had an idea. He realized that he could buy his own camera and find someone to film the programs who could be counted on to be reliable. Plus, he could find someone who did not fill the room with smoke while he preached! He did not need to risk going through that again! So, that is exactly what he did and that is how In Touch Ministries was born. Now that program is broadcast every week around the world in numerous different languages. I guess you might say we all owe a lot to that “smoking hippie” who was in charge of the recording studio that day.
Now, if you and I had been standing over in a corner watching all of that, on that particular Saturday afternoon, I doubt that either of us would have said, “Today is a turning point in Dr. Stanley’s life! Because of today, this will be the beginning of a great ministry that will go all over the world.” I don’t think that would have crossed our minds! At that moment everything would have looked like a huge failure, not to mention a colossal waste of time! Yet, out of that particular set of circumstances came a blessing for millions of people. It really is true that our future is born out of some of our most frustrating and difficult times.
Let me encourage you; the next time you go through something that makes you want to scream and pull your hair out, or possibly jump off of a tall bridge, stop and consider the possibility that what is going on is not for your harm, but for your benefit. It has been sent as a gift to guide your life and give you a promotion. It may not seem like it, look like it, or feel like it, but in reality, that is what is taking place.
I trust this story will have an impact on the way you view situations and circumstances for rest of your life. I know it certainly has had an impact on my life! Who knows; what is going on around you these days may be the beginning of a brand new door of opportunity for you and other people as well all around the world. Wow! Wow! Wow!
Tip: Your greatest challenge may open the door to your entire future!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm