Published February 3, 2015

Paul's Epistle...
"35 Years – And Counting"

Tomorrow – February 4, 2015 – marks the 35th anniversary of the very first broadcast of The Gospel Greats program. (We'll celebrate on this weekend's broadcast. See the "Coming on the next broadcast" section below.)

This amazes me. 35 years!  But I have no doubt that the success of what we've been doing all of these years is entirely attributable to God's continuing blessing.

People sometimes ask 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 (radio and TV) experience. In short, He placed in my heart an interest in all of the things that I would need in order to do what I've been doing now for these 35 years.

And then I believe God has continued to bless our work because we strive to keep Him first in all we do, as I mentioned in my Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame acceptance comments last September. You cannot listen to our program each week without hearing an artist or songwriter talk about a song – or several songs – which have uncommonly deep spiritual insights. Honor God in what you do and He will honor you. I know that truth first-hand — 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 – 35 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. 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, granting interview after interview. We've known some of these artists for nearly all of those 35 years and count them as friends. The integration of artist interview material throughout our program gives The Gospel Greats program its unique appeal and interest, and, obviously, we could not do it without their cooperation.

Unfortunately, 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 Glen Payne, George Younce, James Blackwood, Hovie Lister, J. D. Sumner, Brock Speer, 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. Many have told us they "grew up" listening to The Gospel Greats program. 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. From the very beginning, as soon as record company people found out what we were doing, they were extremely supportive – and increasingly so as they heard the program. The folks at Singing News magazine have been especially helpful since "day one."

We certainly value the friendship that 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. God prepared her, too, to be the perfect "helpmate" in our endeavors. She is a very vital part of what we do together. Today both of our sons have become important parts of the work we do, utilizing their God-given talents to help do all the things that need to be done each week to produce and distribute this broadcast as well as to operate our mailorder service. Thanks, too, to Karen Nolt, who's been a big part of everything we do for 29 years.

Now, although our anniversary celebration is dealing a lot with the past 35 years, I don't want only to look back. I like to look ahead. As I'll mention on this weekend's program, I'm excited to see what God has in store for us and for the broadcast as we go forward.

We have never felt the burden of ministry so much as we do today, both through the program and, yes, through this newsletter. We promise you we will continue to stand firm on the truth of God's word and strive, in all we do, to bring Him all the honor and the glory.

You will never know how thankful we are for your continuing support and encouragement these past 35 years. May God bless you at least as abundantly as He's blessed us through "The Gospel Greats" program.


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