Republic, Washington, is nestled among the mountains on the northeastern side of the state. Originally dubbed Eureka, the settlement’s first name aptly described the excitement created by the discovery of gold in the late 1890s.
There are many things that make Republic special, but perhaps nothing is more precious to Leroy and Colleen Sharp than a little radio station that broadcasts 3ABN Radio.
Everything about KETL-LP, 100.5 FM, is miraculous. In 2001, a small group of church members decided to try for a construction permit after receiving notice that the Federal Communications Commission was accepting applications. But the challenges were steep. “We would need to find a broadcasting site, do some preliminary engineering work, form a nonprofit corporation, and submit an application—in four weeks!” says Dr. Bill Pellow, a Seventh-day Adventist optometrist who led the team. With faith and determination, they obtained their permit, which gave them 18 months to put the station on the air.
One problem, however, seemed insurmountable. No one wanted a radio tower in their backyard!
“We talked to a half-dozen landowners, but received a negative response from each one. Things began to look pretty bleak for a while,” Bill admits, “and my faith wavered a little.”
Finally only one location was left—Gold Hill, the best location of all. One of the team members knew the owner from high school, but he didn’t hold out much hope the man would be sympathetic to their cause.
“We had earnest prayer and continued to pray as our friend Reed Heckly called the landowner,” Bill says. “As he tried to describe the purpose of the station, the owner cut him off! ‘I don’t care what you broadcast,’ he said. ‘I believe in freedom of speech!’ ”
That problem was solved, but another one quickly replaced it. They had to obtain permission to pull electricity from one man’s property, and permission from two other families to bury heavy electrical cable across 2,000 feet of land to the tower site. As they called each one, they obtained permission without problems, and no one was more surprised! “After receiving half a dozen noes in a row, we had just received four critical yeses,” Bill says. “We knew we were watching a miracle!”
There were many more stories—finding a sturdy tower for a miracle price, how church members hauled it there and assembled it, how they raised $12,000 in yard sales, and the logger who just happened to be building a logging road through that area. Finally, KETL-LP went on the air—just four days before the FCC deadline!
“Our signal reaches much farther than we ever expected,” Bill says. “You can actually receive a pretty fair signal all the way in Grand Forks, Canada!”
Preparing Their Hearts
Meanwhile, many miles away, the Holy Spirit had spent years preparing the hearts of Leroy and Colleen Sharp for new truth.
“I was born in Dixon, Missouri,” Leroy says. “My dad’s dad was a Pentecostal preacher, and my mom’s dad was a deacon in the Baptist church. But my parents weren’t much for going to church. Sometimes I’d go to Sunday School with an aunt, or I might attend Vacation Bible School, but when I was 12 or so, I got saved in the Baptist church. Well, that caused an uproar in the family because of their Pentecostal background! ‘Wait until your grandpa learns about this!’ they said, and I was left feeling like I’d done something wrong, rather than something right.
“After that I went to church a few times, but never felt like I belonged,” he continues, “and by the time I was 16 or 17, I was already drinking and doing drugs. By the time I was 27, I was already in a messed-up relationship, and one day we got into a fight and I got shot point blank through the chest. I was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital but when we got there, I woke up. The attendant said, ‘Hey, you’re dead!’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not!’
“I’ll never forget the surgeon’s words when I tried to thank him afterword. He said, ‘Son, you shouldn’t thank me. You just weren’t bad enough to go to hell, or good enough to go to Heaven!’ ”
Colleen, on the other hand, was raised in County Durham, England. “I was brought up by my grandparents, and my grandmother was Catholic. I know she gave me her love for Jesus, but my granddad gave me the things of the Spirit. I’ve always had those as my foundation, even though I never went to church.”
“I lived in a large farm house in the country—a retreat for my friends when they wanted time out. We’d talk about what was happening in the world, and although we had no knowledge of Bible prophecies, after 9/11 we just knew that something was going on. I began feeling a strong urge to give up everything I had and move to America with nothing but a suitcase. I finally did, and I can’t explain how I felt, except to say that it was very freeing. It’s as if I was going through my life and settling things within myself.”
However, Colleen says she missed those deep conversations with my friends. “By 2009 I was dying inside because I had nobody to connect with on a spiritual level,” she says.
Leroy and Colleen had moved several times, looking for land to settle and build on, and finally they came to Republic.
“While Leroy was at work I remember wanting to listen to something, but the only radio station was 3ABN! As I listened to David Asscherick, he got me! I kept thinking, This is exactly what I believe!
“I would turn it off before Leroy came home, and several months went by before I told him. Then I began switching it on tentatively and discovered that while he liked Doug Batchelor, he couldn’t handle David Asscherick’s pace!”
Colleen grins, “It’s sort of like a preference in herbal teas. In the morning I really like Red Zinger tea because it has a kick, but others like a more calm variety.”
The Insistent Man
After listening to 3ABN Radio for about a year, Colleen felt compelled to visit a Seventh-day Adventist church, but didn’t know when they met for worship. “I couldn’t get anyone on the telephone, so I called a church 50 miles away, and they told me the services were on Saturday mornings,” she says. “When I arrived I was greeted cordially and found a seat in the back of the church. Now you have to understand that I was raised Catholic, and mass was solemn and silent, but here people were drinking water, walking around, and greeting one another! They seemed genuinely good-hearted, though. After the service I met Martin Klein and his wife Janelle. She invited me to lunch, but I told her I couldn’t come because my husband was picking me up. As I was leaving, Martin kept up with me and said he wanted to invite my husband.
“ ‘Hello, Leroy, would you like to come to lunch?’ he asked as we approached the truck.
“ ‘No, I don’t think so,’ my husband answered. ‘Besides, I’m not dressed for lunch.’
“ ‘That’s okay, I invited someone who’s camping, so you’ll fit right in!’
“What a pushy guy! I thought, just as Leroy shot me a What’s going on? look. The truth is that he was so pushy we finally agreed to lunch out of courtesy! Later we found out that this was not his nature at all, but he’d felt the Holy Spirit compelling him that, no matter what, we were supposed to come home with them!”
They drove up to the house at the Klondike Mountain Health Retreat, founded by Martin’s father, Pastor Leonard, and his wife Aldine. Martin explained that they treated all sorts of lifestyle diseases and provided vegetarian cooking classes for the community. After lunch the two couples went for a walk, and the friendship they established brought Leroy and Colleen both back to church the following week.
Soon they began having Bible studies after lunch, and major changes began to take place. “We claimed the promises in Psalm 107, and the Lord took away the desire and broke the chains of our cigarette addiction,” Leroy says. “When God does something like that, He doesn’t mess around!”
On September 18, 2010, Leroy and Colleen were baptized in a lake, as their church family gathered around them. Church pastor Mel Pond, and retired pastor Leonard Klein (Martin’s father), baptized them together, welcoming them into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today they are both active in their church, doing their part to spread the good news.
“It’s so important to have people walk with you from the time you begin attending church, through baptism, and beyond,” Colleen says. “It’s so important to never forget that our presence is important in church, too. Each of us gives the gift of our presence in church, and I think that ties in with what Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.’ It’s not just that we’re all there worshipping with the words—our hearts come out in worship, too. It’s a palpable thing, and when someone’s not there, I miss them.”
More Precious Than Gold
Through God’s blessings, the Sharps have been able to purchase some land on a mountain and are now building a home that’s “off the grid.”
“We have no electricity,” Leroy says, “but we do have solar panels and batteries.”
“We also enjoy the light of lamps in the evening,” Colleen adds. “It’s so lovely. We have radios on our phones so we still listen to 3ABN Radio. I think it’s the best evangelist ever. It’s non-threatening, and different speakers appeal to different people. I think it would be great to have someone talk about the local church, though. I would have liked to hear what went on there, where it was, and what time they met.”
Her idea is not wasted on those who work there. “We have a tremendous need for someone willing to move here and volunteer to produce local programs,” says Bob Charbonneau, the personal ministries director for the Republic Seventh-day Adventist Church. “All the equipment is ready. They don’t even have to know how to run it. They just need to be willing to learn. This is a special place that Seventh-day Adventist founder, Ellen White, would have heartily endorsed,” he adds.
The little station on Gold Hill is working tirelessly to reach those who are seeking for the Lord. And with results like these, it’s proving to be more precious than gold!