Published February 2, 2010

Paul's Epistle...
"Thirty Years!"

Today's date – February 2nd – is forever etched in my mind. Thirty years ago, in 1980, that date fell on a Saturday. And that was the date of the very first broadcast of The Gospel Greats program. So, ever since, we celebrate the program's anniversary the first weekend in February – and we'll do just that on this weekend's broadcast with some very special features (see below).

Thirty years! This truly amazes me. That's a long time to be doing anything — especially in the high-turnover field of radio. But I have no doubt that the success of what we've been doing all of these years is thanks entirely to God's continuing blessing.

People keep asking me why I'm doing this. I simply reply – quite truthfully – that I'm doing it because I believe it's what God wants me to do. And He's affirmed that by blessing what we do. I believe God prepared me by giving me an interest in radio programming, radio production, newswriting, journalism, electronics, etc., that began to manifest itself in elementary school. He opened the doors for fourteen years of local broadcast experience. In short, He placed in my heart an interest in all of the things that I would need to do what I've been doing for these thirty years.

And then I believe God has continued to bless our work because we strive to keep Him first in all we do. He is, after all, our most important audience! You cannot listen to our program each week without hearing an artist or songwriter talk about a song – or several songs – which have deep spiritual insights. Honor God in what you do and He will honor you. I know – He's done it here.

We are so thankful, too, to many others.

First, we are thankful to the hundreds of radio stations which have carried our program over the years. Some of those who started with us the first year – thirty years ago – are still carrying our program. We feel like a part of their family! Without these radio stations, we simply could not do what we do.

Then, of course, we are thankful to you, our listeners. If you weren't so faithful in listening to our program each week, radio stations simply would not carry the program. You have made it one of the top-rated programs on many of the radio stations on which The Gospel Greats program is heard – and for that we are truly thankful. You are among the most faithful listeners that any broadcaster could possibly want or have.

We thank you, too, for the continuous flow of cards and letters and e-mails telling us how something you have heard on the broadcast has blessed you in a special way. Many long-time listeners recently shared with us how the program has been a continuing blessing over the years. You will never know how much of an encouragement that is to us.

We owe a special debt of gratitude to the countless Southern Gospel music artists who have been so generous with their time over the years, consenting to interview after interview. The abundant integration of artist interview material throughout our program gives The Gospel Greats its unique appeal and interest, and, obviously, we could not do it without their cooperation.

Of course, many of the artists we dealt with regularly in our early years are no longer with us. What a pleasure and what an honor it was to get to know personally such people as George Younce (who even co-hosted our 20th anniversary program), Glen Payne, James Blackwood, Hovie Lister, Kenny Hinson, the Goodmans, and many others — and to be able to call them "friends." But many gifted new artists have come along to fill their well-worn shoes. We have seen first-hand the maturing of many of these newer artists as they get a grip on the fact that it's not all about the music, it's all about the Lord. Southern Gospel music's future is in good hands.

Then, too, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those behind-the-scenes people in the Southern Gospel music industry who have been so wonderfully supportive over the years. We certainly value the friendship that so many of these industry people have shown us. Some have been to our home. And we've been to some of theirs.

And on a very personal level, I'd like to thank my wife, Shelia, for all she has endured all these years. To be honest, ours is very demanding work, with very little time off, and she bears a heavy load of responsibilities in the office which can cause quite a drain physically. But she is a very vital part of the work we do together. Undoubtedly, God prepared her to be the perfect "helpmate" in our combined endeavors. As you can tell from her "Shelia Shares" column that you find here each week, she certainly has a heart for ministry.

Now, although our anniversary celebration is dealing a lot with the past thirty years, I don't want only to look back. I believe, should the Lord tarry, there's plenty of work to do for years to come. Technologies may change, but the need for what we've been calling "the greatest songs about the greatest message" is greater than ever.

So, again, if you're one of our regular listeners — and most of you reading this are — I'm thankful to you. Without you, there would be no reason for me to be on the radio each week. Thank you! And may God bless you as abundantly as He's blessed us these many years.

- Paul

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

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