|Frank Wright, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Former president Woodrow Wilson once said, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, or what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing, if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” Wilson’s observation has the ring of truth about it, and that truth applies to NRB as well. It is important that we know who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.
When I have been asked to describe NRB, I have generally mentioned five attributes that characterize our association: 1) our rich heritage; 2) our clear purpose; 3) our extraordinary impact; 4) our unique opportunity; and 5) our dramatic challenge.
A Rich Heritage
If you are like me with a hundred things on your plate, you probably seldom give much thought to the groundbreaking work of pioneer Christian broadcasters and the early days of NRB. We are all busy, but we must never forget that we have a rich and godly heritage of visionary men and women who have gone before us to make much of what we do today possible. Their work involved creative inspiration, disciplined determination, and uncommon perseverance. It does not overstate the case to say that were it not for their faithfulness, you would likely not be serving in your present capacity.
Without question, God superintended their work as He does ours today. But that is more than just a pleasant historical notion. It is also the substance of our faith. Just as our predecessors trusted in God to go before them, we too can trust in Him to prosper our efforts to extend the reach of the Gospel message to the uttermost parts of the earth. Our past heritage is more than history; it is a firm foundation upon which we boldly stand today.
A Clear Purpose
People I talk with sometimes marvel at the fractured fellowship of the Christian church and comment to me about the surprising unity we have within NRB. How is it that we can maintain that unity among such diversity of theological understanding?, they ask. My first response, of course, is to say to myself: “If only they knew!”
Actually that’s not true. My first response is to think about our Statement of Faith and our Declaration of Unity, to think about the essential truths of the Christian faith that bind our hearts together in common purpose. I like to summarize that common purpose by telling others that the work of NRB is to proclaim the good news of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ; to transform the culture through the application of sound biblical teaching; and to preserve religious freedom by keeping the doors of electronic media open for the spread of the Gospel.
When we focus on the things that unite us, the fellowship of the saints is particularly sweet. Conversely, when we focus on non-essential doctrines that are apt to divide us, we tend to lose our focus and our unity is transient. Our purpose is clear; our unity must also be clearly evident.
An Extraordinary Impact
In the press of our daily work it is also easy to lose our focus and overlook the impact of our work on the lives of men, women, boys, and girls. Sometimes that impact is visible; at other times it is less so. Yet through the faithful work of NRB members a sin-sick world is offered hope, God’s people are encouraged to remain maintain committed, and many are inspired to extraordinary works of service.
Perhaps the most obvious impact of our broadcast efforts is in providing hope to those who feel hopeless. A number of years ago, a man walked into to an NRB-member radio station with a cash donation. The man was a church leader in his community who carried the secret burden of addiction with him for years. For nearly ten years he was addicted to painkillers. There were nights, he said, when he would lay on the floor with a gun in his hand ready to end it all. But cradled in his other arm was a radio playing the teaching and music of a Christian radio station. It was the only hope he had. It was his lifeline, and through it God drew him back to the land of the living.
Other NRB members tell stories of listeners who were wavering in their commitment to their marriages and their families, who as a result of the bold proclamation of God’s truth recommitted their lives to Christ. Being clearly called to be faithful to God’s word, they have remained faithful in their relationships, thus sparing spouses and children the devastating effects of separation and divorce.
One particularly encouraging example of NRB’s impact came to me through the lives of three particular members of Congress who I became acquainted with. Each of these men shared a common bond. All three were inspired to run for Congress by the teaching they received from Christian radio. Today we have some godly leaders who view public service as a high and holy calling, as a direct result of NRB-member broadcast efforts.
A Unique Opportunity
Ours is also a time of unique opportunity. Sadly, large parts of the visible church have seemingly lost a commitment to God’s word as revealed truth. It is for us then to maintain biblical fidelity even when others will not. Most of us have multiple copies of the Scriptures, yet somehow, we need to recapture the awe and wonder of holding in our hands the word of the Living God. We need to be mindful that the impact of our work is extraordinary because God is extraordinarily faithful to honor his own word, as we are faithful to proclaim it.
Training the next generation of Christian broadcasters is another unique opportunity before us. We have today a whole new generation of media-savvy young people who want to strategically use electronic media to reach the world for Christ. Still others wish to take their faith and worldview into secular media organizations, so that the mind of Christ is represented there as well. Both of these groups need training, mentoring, encouragement and support to fulfill their calling in Christ. NRB is both strategically and uniquely positioned to assist in these efforts.
Furthermore, while our mission is to keep the doors of electronic media open for the spread of the Gospel, we also have many opportunities available to open new avenues to reach the world for Christ through electronic media. Many nations have fledging Christian broadcasting efforts. Many of them are climbing the same steep learning curve we have climbed. To the extent that we can strengthen their efforts and help establish new ones, we can rejoice like the Prophet that there are more “beautiful feet” on the mountain bringing good news.
A Dramatic Challenge
As a 65-year old association we also face a series of dramatic challenges from a government increasingly hostile to the rights and interests of Christian broadcasters. Those challenges are regulatory, legislative, and judicial in nature.
A Necessary Imperative
For NRB, our calling is clear. With the unity that only the Gospel can bring, we must rise, organize, and prepare to face these challenges with the same creative inspiration, disciplined determination, and uncommon perseverance that marked the early pioneers of Christian broadcasting. We must also remember that the foundation of faith that they laid is a firm place for us to stand as well.