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Revivaltime premiers on ABC

When Revivaltime 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.

1910s: The early role of the Pentecostal Evangel

1920s: Revival Reports

1930s: A World of news

1940s: World War II: Last-minute deliverance from execution

1950s: Revivaltime premiers on ABC

1960s: Missionary Tucker martyred in the Congo

1970s: Touching lives through Teen Challenge

1980s: Straight Talk

1990s: The Columbine High School shootings

2000s: 9/11

First month
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.

First year
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:
“I 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.”

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