Every now and then when I look back over our history I am still shocked by how God has brought things together. When my wife and I returned to Eugene from Bible College, we returned to a small church with no teens, only children.
After two years of children’s ministry, we had three young people- a “youth group”. Over time and through the hand of God, our youth group continued to grow until we had outgrown our youth facility. We were faced with having to move our youth group to another location away from the church, but where, and how to pay for it, were big issues.
I dialed a wrong number one day and got the local Cable Access Television Studio. Even though it was the wrong number I had to ask, ” what exactly is Cable Access?” I was shocked to learn that the government funded a television studio so that the public had equal access to the airwaves, to air anything they wanted. To me this was unbelievable. The other interesting thing was that they would allow us to use the studio, which could seat up to 250, for free, if we filmed and aired what we did. How could I turn it down, a free facility every week, located in a local high school, seating for up to 250, all of this for the price of airing our services on local TV for free. This was God’s answer to our need.
Every week we would roll in at 5:00 p.m. and unload carpet, staging, extra lights, sound equipment and chairs and be ready to film by 7:00 p.m. When we finished we had to tear it all down and be out by 11:00p.m. It was incredible to watch to say the least.
We had a youth church, Worship and the Word, every week in a Cable Access studio. We had volunteer help from young people. The cameras were run by young people, as well as the sound equipment and the control room.
It took us six months to get our first show on the air. There we sat, about 25 of us excited and thrilled to be watching our first show. When it came on we were almost to the point of tears, only to watch our show air all sixty minutes of programming in about 15 minutes. We had recorded at the wrong speed and the whole show ran in fast-forward! We were disappointed, but we laughed and continued on, learning from scratch what we needed to know about filming, lighting, and editing.
Anyone who has used cable access can confirm that their equipment is not the highest quality; it is overused, run by amateurs, and shared with local government offices. About three months after our first airing, our local TBN channel called us and offered to let us use their editing equipment, (commercial) which offered better quality than the SVHS format of Cable Access.
This was a big plus as it improved the quality of our show as well as allowing us to air on their station. They are to this day one of our strongest supporters.
God placed a person in our church that felt led to pay for us to go on a secular network, ABC, CBS, NBC or the newcomer FOX. Going on a secular network meant a huge jump in audience potential, by reaching those with cable and those without, but to do this we needed to improve our quality.
After seeking the Lord, we decided to purchase our own equipment; cameras, lights, and editing decks, and we moved back to our own facility. We started airing on the FOX Network with a six-week contract, which was all we could afford. That was over five years ago, and although the network has taken some heat for our show they continue to stand behind us and air us weekly.
Just over two years ago, we subscribed to the Dish Network. The industry was changing; you could now have not only local television or cable, you could also have the new, compact satellite systems. New options meant new opportunities; the Sky Angel channel was seeking new programming for their network.
In order to be compatible with satellite we needed to be able to use Beta format and go to a non-linear editing system. We also needed to bring on a full-time employee to handle the many hours that television consumed. This was a big step for us, but it enabled our show to be seen nationally, (soon to be internationally) so how could we say no? We would be able to share the gospel all over our nation!
Cable Access to Dish Network, this is literally where we’ve come from and where we are, the message is Christ, the method is television. We have gone from S-VHS video equipment with old cameras to our own equipment, including non-linear editing, beta format, and high quality cameras and lighting. As the industry changes we are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our show and make it enjoyable for people to watch. Our goal is to share the message of Christ with all who will listen, we put it out there, and they make the choice.
Poor quality production doesn’t attract people; we want to put the message in a package people will want to open. Our show currently airs on Sky Angel (Angel One & the Kids & Teens Network), our local FOX network, TBN affiliate, and of course Cable Access. Every week the message is broadcast 6-12 times and we receive response from all over our country; by phone, email and letters. This is what God had in mind when I dialed that wrong number, I just didn’t know it!