Lee DeYoung: Welcome to this very special Words of Hope program. Words of Hope has been on the air for 65 years, beginning as Temple Time, and this is the last program in this format because beginning next week the programs will continue but in an entirely new format in a new title called Groundwork. We'll talk more about that. David Bast is with me and Dr. Bill Brownson. David is the current president and broadcast minister of Words of Hope, and Bill is his predecessor, beginning in the early 1970s and continuing through the mid-nineties. And it's good to be with each of you here. David, remember the history. Of course, neither of us is old enough to have been around, but how did Words of Hope begin under Temple Time?
Dave Bast: Temple Time was launched in 1945 when a group of Reformed Church congregations decided that there should be a radio ministry reaching out to North America, and they began on just two radio stations in Western Michigan in July of 1945.
Lee DeYoung: Now we have some clips that we're going to listen to of some of the Words of Hope programs over the years and Temple Time. It began in 45 but the first long-term radio minister was your dad, Henry Bast.
Dave Bast: I grew up with it, you might say.
Lee DeYoung: You did! And we have a program clip here from the December 27, 1953 edition of Temple Time.
Dave Bast: That was a very early clip and that announcer there—you may not have recognized his voice—he was a young Reformed Church pastor named Robert Schuller, who I believe went on to do some broadcast ministry of his own in later years. But the name, Bill, the name Temple Time?
Bill Brownson: Yes, you heard in the song “all who hear to his temple draw near,” that's where the theme came from that we now call Temple Time.
Lee DeYoung: Henry Bast was the radio minister at that time, and he continued on for 20 years. Here is the conclusion of one of his messages from 1969 about the deceitfulness of sin.
Henry Bast: Whenever we postpone any decision we are starting the principle of hardening. Hardening always sets in when there is no response. So today if you would hear his word, harden not your heart. Remember the principle of the crust. The ice forming on the river can be broken with the flick of the finger on the first morning. But if the freezing process is permitted to go on, night after night, never being interrupted, you cannot break that ice with an axe. This is the danger to which we are exposed. And there's only one way to avoid it. Hear and obey.
Bill Brownson: I love that image of the ice being very fragile at first and then becoming so solid. It's a beautiful expression of the deceitfulness of sin.
Dave Bast: Yes, it also was very personal. My dad was a great trout fisherman, and I'm sure there were many April mornings on opening day when he broke through the crust on the edge of the stream. But he loved the scriptures, he loved the Lord, he loved the Word, and that's what he did for twenty years. But the time came, Bill, when he retired, in 1972, and then you were called to take up the work.
Lee DeYoung: Yes, Bill took over in 1972 and we have a clip here from 1973 of one of Bill's messages about “Has the Spirit convinced you?” And you're introduced in that program by a familiar voice to many. Glenn LePard was the executive director for a number of years and the announcer on the Temple Time program.
Glenn LePard: We present at this time Dr. William Brownson, Temple Time radio minister, who today continues his series of messages on the Holy Spirit as he speaks on the subject, “Has the Spirit convinced you?”
Bill Brownson: Try to envision for a moment the very best father that any child ever had. In concern for his children, he is warm and loyal. In discipline he remains fair, consistent, and helpful. He keeps his promises and is available when the children really need him. As a man, he is eminently worthy of respect. Now the big question is: Has that marvelous spring time come in your religious life? Have you learned from Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen one, to see God as your Father? And has the Spirit so convinced you that from the heart you daily cry, “Abba, Father.” Amen.
Dave Bast: That was vintage Bill Brownson almost 37 years ago but frankly, I don't think you sound very much different today when you still are on the air, but the Holy Spirit, Bill, has always been one of your favorite themes.
Bill Brownson: Yes indeed, and the work of the Holy Spirit to awaken us, to convince us of sin, to point us to Christ, that's been a wonderful reality to me and a joy to speak about.
Dave Bast: I felt like you were heading in that message toward the Spirit who teaches us to cry “Abba, Father.” It's the Spirit that makes God's fatherhood real, right?
Bill Brownson: That's right. The Holy Spirit is the one who convinces us that we are sinners, that Christ died for us, that God in his great love will receive us as we put our trust in Christ.
Dave Bast: Now shortly after that program, in 1974 to be exact, there was a major change in the name of the ministry, not just the radio program but the whole ministry. Tell us something about that.
Bill Brownson: We became aware that in some parts of the world as we expanded our international ministry temple was not associated with Christian faith. We wanted a name that would more reflect the content of what we have to say. And so we came up with this name Words of Hope because we felt that the hope of the gospel is the heart of what we wanted to present.
Lee DeYoung: And people found out about it on the air when they were listening to a program on April 27, 1975 and in the conclusion of that program, Glenn LePard said this:
Glenn: Listen again next week at this same time and over this same station when Temple Time will present Words of Hope, a gospel broadcast. . .
Lee DeYoung: That name change, Bill, to Words of Hope signaled a time of great expansion internationally, and the emphasis of the ministry shifted much more dramatically to planting different radio broadcasts in other parts of the world.
Bill Brownson: Yes, and that was what I had looked forward to, prayed for, rejoiced in: that we had a widening ministry to the rest of the world and to see what was when we came six languages blossom to more than 40; it was just a marvelous thing, making the gospel known to the ends of the earth.
Lee DeYoung: And when I came in 1985 that's certainly what drew me to work with you in this ministry and that was a wonderful privilege. Then in 1994 the time came when you felt God leading you to retire, although we keep hearing you on the radio, so it wasn't a complete retirement, but you did turn over the reigns to David Bast who became the president and broadcast minister, and I remember well that last program in which you said goodby.
Lee DeYoung: Sharing this time with you has been such a privilege. If today's program has been helpful, please write and let us know. Dr. Brownson's message for today, “The Master Theme.” If you'd like a free printed copy, write today to Words of Hope, Box 1706, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501. When you contact us, please do mention the call letters of this station.
Bill Brownson: Now for all of us at Words of Hope, this is Bill Brownson with Dave Bast and Lee DeYoung, inviting you to join us next week at this time when Reformed churches in North America and believers around the world will again bring you Words of Hope. And for that time I'll be joining you as one of the listeners. In the meanwhile if we can help by Christian literature, counsel from the Word, or by our prayers, do get in touch with us. Now, friends, may the gospel of the risen Jesus fill your life with hope.
Dave Bast: That program excerpt was from 1994. That's more than 15 years ago now, but here we are, the three of us, again in the studio, in a brand-new studio. Lee DeYoung with Bill Brownson and myself, Dave Bast, and I guess the theme that's come to me out of doing these retrospective programs is sort of the wonderful continuity through the years and across some changes in the programs that we've made. We wouldn't put on any more today what we made in 1953. Much has changed about the world of media, and that means in the future we're looking to change some things as well.
Lee DeYoung: And there's a partnership now. The next phase in this radio ministry is a combined English language program: Word of Hope and the Back to God Ministries International now combining with this new program Groundwork which, Dave, you're a part of along with the leader of the Back to God Ministries, Bob Heerspink.
Dave Bast: Right. And it's going to be a dialogue program but still focused on Bible teaching, just as Temple Time and Words of Hope have always been focused on the core message of the gospel by explaining the Scriptures. Groundwork will be a kind of joint effort to do Bible teaching.
Lee DeYoung: And here's a preview of next week's program.
Dave Bast: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so wisdom comes from a relationship with God, but it also grows through knowing his word, the Bible.
Bob Heerspink: The Bible is at the core of true wisdom, and that's really something that our society doesn't take . . .
Dave Bast: In addition to the conversational nature of Groundwork, Bill, another aspect that's rather unusual about this new program is that it's a combined effort of two different ministries and denominations, Words of Hope from the Reformed Church in America, and Back to God Ministries, ReFrame Media, from the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
Bill Brownson: I think it's a wonderful thing that these two churches, these two ministries, are working together to proclaim the gospel. This is one of the beautiful signs of the unity of the body that we are most close together when we are sharing the gospel with the world.
Lee DeYoung: Thank you, Dave, and thank you, Bill. Over the 65 years, the media has changed, a lot of the world has changed, the formats have changed, the names have changed, but the message remains central and eternal.
Liz Waid: We hope you've enjoyed today's special look back and we invite you to join us next week for Groundwork as we look at understanding the Bible. Here's a preview of that conversation:
Bob Heerspink: The Bible has this power to establish a relationship between God and his people because God is still living and active in his Word.
Dave Bast: Listen to this wonderful passage from Psalm 119. That's the longest psalm in the Bible; it's the longest chapter in the Bible. It's a love song to scripture itself. The psalmist says, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal.”
That was a preview of next week's Groundwork. On request, we'd be pleased to send you a station log listing Groundwork stations and broadcast times. You can also see a station list and hear programs on the Groundwork website. Groundworkonline.com.