premiers on ABC
went on the ABC
Radio Network in December 1953, little could anyone predict that
it would be on the air for the next 40 years. For 25 of those
years C.M. Ward was the radio evangelist. Dan Betzer followed
Ward and completed the remaining 15 years. The first excerpt below
is from the Pentecostal
Evangel, January 31, 1954, one month into Revivaltime’s broadcasts. The second excerpt, on the first birthday,
is from a Springfield, Mo., newspaper during the week of December
19, 1954, reprinted in the Pentecostal Evangel January 16, 1955. A “Revivaltime Reenactment” is scheduled in conjunction with
the General Council in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, July 29, 2003.
Telegrams and letters from enthusiastic listeners pour into the
Radio Department as Revivaltime completes its first month
of network broadcasting. From Massachusetts, to Alabama, to California,
the response has been, “This is the kind of broadcast we
need in our area!”
Pastors of small churches in relatively
unevangelized places write to express thanks for what the new broadcast will
mean to their work. Large churches have caught a vision of the new Revivaltime’s missionary possibilities.
District officials have joined
in hearty approval, too. For them, the network broadcast is a project they
can push throughout their district, because it is ministering to their district.
But the letters and telegrams were
not all from preachers. “Just plain folk” everywhere liked the
informality and the dynamic preaching. “Down to earth!” was the
way someone described it.
If the response had stopped at
congratulations and best wishes, it would have been disappointing. It would
have been Christian congratulating Christian — a sort of patting ourselves
on the back. But already letters of another kind are mingling with the initial
flood of well-wishing mail. They are letters from backsliders and sinners,
newly converted, sending thanks for the message which brought them to their
knees. These are the letters which, growing in volume, will prove the worth
of this great venture for Christ. It is the vision of reaching these hungry
thousands that inspires so many who write or telegraph to assure the Radio
Department of continued support.
As a church working together wholeheartedly
is a growing church, so a nationwide radio ministry with such enthusiastic
support is sure to prosper. We solicit the earnest prayers of every Evangel reader that it might be so.
Revivaltime, one of the largest denominational broadcasts
in the world, is now heard over 300 stations. During the Sunday
evening broadcast from Central Bible Institute, the Rev. Ward
told the studio and radio audiences that the program will be contracted
for another year … on the American Broadcasting Company.
The Rev. Ralph M. Riggs, general
superintendent of the Assemblies, lauded the program on behalf of the entire
church organization. ...The broadcast began as a live international program
a year ago from what Evangelist Ward terms “scratch” and is now
beginning to meet its own financial obligations.
The Rev. Ward said that more than
72,000 letters have been received during the year. In addition
to incoming mail, around 200,000 letters and pieces of literature
have been mailed, he added.
A sample letter:
am a serviceman, backslidden and bound by Satan, and on my way
to the place called Hell. I have heard of Revivaltime but tonight is the first time I’ve heard it.
… The program is drawing to a close now with the choir singing
‘Coming Home.’ I want to come home to God. I will
be saved, God willing.”