Compassion Radio is celebrating 70 years of continuous broadcasting.
Compassion Radio began as the Morning Chapel Hour, led by Wilbur Nelson, who sang and preached; his wife, Ethyl, who played the piano and organ; and their five-year-old son, Norm, who gave the mailing address and told a Bible story.
From that humble beginning on one station in Los Angeles, the family ministry has grown to more than 1,000 outlets across the nation, and also streams today on the Internet and through podcasts.
Even through college, post-grad work, seminary, college chaplainship, and pastoral appointments in the east, Norm Nelson kept his association with the ministry by writing copy for his father, searching out anecdotes, recording duets with his father, and singing in the Chapel Singers.
He returned in the 1970s to be a part of the ministry’s television outreach, Faith That Sings, and stayed on as the new President of the radio ministry.
In the 1980s, after a life-changing trip to China, Nelson became convinced of the Lord’s call to change the focus of the largely devotional broadcast to be a sign-post pointing to the amazing things that God is doing around the world unknown by the Western Church. He has devoted himself to learning all he can about the persecuted – but triumphant – parts of the Body of Christ around the world, and to raising up an army of listeners eager to “do the Word” wherever it is needed.
The name change to Compassion Radio was an outgrowth of one of Nelson’s reconnaissance and relief trips, during which he tried to explain to those receiving aid why a radio program would care about them. They responded, “Oh, you are compassion radio!”
As the change in format and focus was made, the ministry lost half of its 300 radio stations. Still, Nelson moved ahead on the strength of his call from God, knowing this was what he had to do, and if he could not do it by means of radio, he would find another way.
In time, the reach of the message expanded to more than 1,000 outlets.
Nelson is also involved in Reconciliation Initiatives around the world, seeking to establish peace among peoples so that Christ can be lifted up and draw all men to Him.
Published: March 6, 2014