As the world wonders from day to day where the next blow to economic stability might come from, we naturally wonder how the Lord will continue to provide for our needs. Many in the United States have found themselves among the unemployed, or have had to make big adjustments to their way of living. But God is faithful, and as we got the chance to hear from 3ABN’s president and CEO, Pastor Jim Gilley, we got a clear picture of how the Lord’s mighty hand is providing for our needs one day at a time.
WORLD: Pastor Gilley, how is the state of the economy in the United States affecting 3ABN’s ministry?
GILLEY: Some of us who have been around for a while have seen recessions come and go. The economy would dominate people’s thoughts, but after a time things would return to normal, or we’d even see strong rebounds. However, the economic problems our country is facing now are far more difficult to solve than anything the experts have seen during our entire history. Experts and politicians seem confounded. The solutions seem to evade them, and I believe we are seeing the conditions that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy tell us will exist just before the return of our Lord.
We have great opportunities to spread the gospel in addition to the nine satellites that spread the good news around the world. As I often mention, 1.65 billion people around the world can turn on their TVs and watch 3ABN right now—and this does not include the 2 billion who can also watch on the Internet. How many of these overlap? We have no way of knowing. But we must not rest until every person in the world can receive the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14.
With the opportunities we have, it is so important that we use every dollar as wisely as we can in spreading the gospel. So what is our strategy? We will continue to operate as lean an operation as possible, being as efficient and prudent in our expenditures as we possibly can.
Some of you have asked why we don’t come to your area for a rally like we have in the past, and the reason is that we have had to curtail these weekends because of the expense. The only two events we know schedule away from West Frankfort are the annual Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) and Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) conventions. While it’s true that we’ve covered some other events on our travels to or from these events, we are very careful, since travel expenses and uplink costs make these trips very expensive. We still want to do live events because they are very beneficial, so we schedule our camp meetings, Anchors of Truth-type events, and specials such as The Robe and the Ten Commandments Weekends here at 3ABN.
We cut our expenses for travel and other things where we can, but we take advantage of every opportunity to preach the truths of the three angels’ messages wherever and whenever we can, as our Lord’s return approaches.
WORLD: So is the giving up or down?
GILLEY: Our number of gifts is up! Praise the Lord! However, the average size of the gifts is down, so while the total giving is slightly up, it’s not enough to allow us to expand the ministry’s outreach as much as we would like.
Some of the larger givers have been hit hard by the economy, so the average giver, like most of us who give $25–$100 a month, have really had to take up the slack. Realizing that the economy is in trouble, many have increased their giving, and a person who has given $25 per month and increases that to $35 makes a big difference.
Some who have enjoyed a large “windfall” from the sale of property or from an inheritance, have also sent larger, one-time gifts, and those have really helped.
I’m always impressed by how the Holy Spirit lays the burden to give on the hearts of His people. Like the lady who was inspired recently by the sacrifice of the McCulpins—the folks who gave Danny Shelton the first large gift of $50,000 to help complete the ministry’s first studio building. After watching their story on Mending Broken People, 3ABN’s documentary of how the ministry began, this lady sent us $16,000 she’d received.
Of course, we can’t all do that, but it demonstrated this dear lady’s desire to help finish the work so she could see her Savior return for His children. I encourage people to take care of their personal needs first, but as Jesus said in Matthew 6:32–33: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
And remember the McCulpins? They had their gift multiplied back to them! I’ve seen the Lord do that so many times, and while it’s not the reason we should give, it sure is exciting to see the Lord do it, isn’t it? I certainly encourage monthly giving, and then if that year’s blessings have been great, a special gift at the end of the year.
WORLD: What stood out in your mind as you attended the 2011 ASI Convention in Sacramento, California?
GILLEY: I would have to say two things. One was the sermon Elder Ted Wilson delivered at the worship service on Sabbath. It was outstanding—a true message calling us to revival and reformation and a unity of purpose as laity and ministry, finishing the work of presenting the gospel to the entire world. I cannot remember a GC president being asked to present the Sabbath morning message at ASI before. It was very appropriate—and very encouraging.
The second was even more encouraging as Elder Wilson met on Friday afternoon with the heads of each of the ASI member ministries. He laid out a challenge to each of us to join with the General Conference in an evangelistic outreach that is unprecedented in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church—especially to the large cities of the world. Danny Shelton and I were invited to the meeting, and we pledged our full support and the resources of 3ABN in this effort!
New York City will be the first, and we believe that 3ABN—and especially our Dare to Dream Network, which is designed to reach the urban areas and especially the minorities that make up 80 percent of their populations—will help to get behind the locked doors and security gates of the large apartment complexes.
Denzil McNeilus, a businessman from Minnesota and past ASI president, has worked for several years to bring about this partnership between the laity and the church ministry, which many of us believe is the fulfillment of Ellen White’s famous quote: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 117.
WORLD: We are hearing so many good things about Anchors of Truth. Please tell us about the concept behind this television program.
GILLEY: This is a series where we bring in some of the speakers whom the Lord has blessed with a special ability to communicate the gospel—particularly those who have a special message for these times. They present five messages which air Wednesday through Friday evening in prime time, and then twice on Sabbath.
This series has been among the most popular programs ever presented on 3ABN. In fact, our own Pastor John Lomacang’s series, subtitled “Unclean Spirits,” is now our most-requested series ever.
Doug Batchelor and Ron Halvorsen, Sr., will finish out 2011 for us, and David Asscherick, John Bradshaw, and Shawn Boonstra are three already preparing for 2012! Please pray for the series.
WORLD: What is the greatest challenge 3ABN faces in 2012?
GILLEY: As always, it is to stay true to our mandate from the Lord to “reach the world with the undiluted three angels’ messages” of Revelation 14:6–12. Pray that we will not waver from this goal!
—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World