by Danny Shelton
It was late at night, but I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts kept tumbling through my head, and it seemed that the more I tried to sleep, the stronger the impressions became. “Build a television station that will reach the world with the Three Angel’s Messages, a station that will counteract the counterfeit.”
“Lord,” I prayed, “I can’t do that. I don’t know the first thing about television and broadcasting.”
As I was lying in bed wrestling with these thoughts on the night of November 15, 1984, I thought of other Christian television stations where I and my daughter, Melody, had sung gospel music. Because I felt many of these Christian stations sometimes misrepresented the character of God, I yearned for a way to express the amazing love and concern that God holds for all His children, even those who don’t know and love Him. I longed for a way to show the people of the world the end-time message of the Three Angels in Revelation 14.
“But, Lord, I don’t have any money to start a station,” I argued. “I don’t have any property or equipment or know-how. I’m just a carpenter and a gospel singer. What can I do?”
I had learned many good lessons about life from my parents. Known as the Melody Kings, many years ago Mom and Dad sang country western songs on a daily radio program. At that time she had recently begun Bible studies with one of my aunts, who was a Seventh-day Adventist. “Heal me from this polio, Lord,” she prayed, “and I’ll serve you for the rest of my life.” She was miraculously healed. Then my father was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He, too, was miraculously healed.
When my parents became Seventh-day Adventists, they quit playing in night clubs and on the radio. Without the performance income, my parents had to find a new way to feed and clothe their growing family. Dad got a big truck and used it to haul anything and everything. He filled it with other people’s “junk” and hauled it to sales. He hauled wheat for farmers. I can also remember going out with the family and collecting bottles and glass of any kind. We would throw it into the truck and sell truckloads of broken glass. It was during one such work day that glass got into one of my eyes, and I became blind in that eye.
Then, at only 36 years of age, my father had a heart attack. He could no longer work as hard as he used to. His old friends begged him to come play in the band with them on weekends and make some good money for his family, but he refused. “I can’t do that for I would be compromising my beliefs, he told them.
So my mother cleaned houses for people, and the rest of us made money when we could. Sometimes we harvested tomatoes with the Amish.
We were poor, but we never went hungry, and my parents taught me how to work hard and to do the best I could. I learned how to do without. It was hard to wear a coat to school and hear another kid say, “That’s my old coat that my mum gave away!” It was hard to be the only boy on a team at school who had to paint black tennis shoes white to be like the rest of the team’s shoes for the team photo. But, despite these experiences, the Lord blessed my family. We had many things that were more important than money.
Now I was faced with a difficult decision. How could I, who knew nothing about satellites or television stations (except for the fact that I had sung for some), build a television station that would reach the world? It seemed overwhelming. It seemed impossible!
Then the Lord showed me David, who, as a mere boy, ran to meet the opposition – a giant named Goliath – with only a staff, a sling and five smooth stones because the king’s armour wouldn’t fit him. Upset that Goliath was defying God, David boldly faced and slew the giant so “That all the earth may know that there is a God…” (1 Samuel 17:46). I was also reminded that Joseph, Moses, Daniel, and Daniel’s three friends overcame seemingly insurmountable trials and tasks because they had dedicated their lives to the Lord and He took care of them.
Early the next morning my wrestling was over. “Lord,” I prayed, “I’ll go forward if You will supply every need.” I called some close friends to tell them what I wanted to do. Everyone was supportive. “I’ll come up for a few days,” one friend offered. I wasn’t sure what could be accomplished in a few days. I didn’t even know where to start, but I was working for the Lord, and He did!
We decided to go and visit the little television studio of Hal Steenson, a charismatic pastor. While visiting with Hal, I shared what God had asked me to do. I told him I wanted to build a television station that would reach the whole world with an undiluted Three Angels Message – a television station that would counteract the counterfeit, a station that would give the true picture of God.
When I was through sharing with Hal, he had some sharing to do with me. “A man from Indiana recently asked me if he could purchase my studio equipment,” he said, “but I told him, ‘It’s taken me all this time to put this equipment together. I don’t want to sell it!’ After the man left, I prayed about what the Lord wanted me to do with the equipment. ‘If you want me to sell it, Lord,’ I prayed, ‘I will.’ But the Lord told me differently. He told me I couldn’t keep it and I couldn’t sell it. ‘Then what am I to do with the equipment?’ I asked. The Lord impressed me that I would know the time and place. I’m getting the idea that this is the time and place.”
That night as I was lying in bed, I kept thinking, “Could he really donate all this equipment – nearly $100,000 worth?” So I called him on the phone to make sure.
“Go back to sleep,” he reassured me. “The equipment is yours.”
When God asked me to build a television station, I promised to go forward as He supplied every need. Already in the first twenty four hours, before I knew where I was going to build the station, before I had a license or a permit or anything, God had supplied nearly $100,000 worth of equipment. I knew God heard my prayers and cared enough to give me this special blessing right away so that I would know I was following His will.
I began to share the dream of God’s television station with local churches. One Wednesday evening Fonda Summers heard me speak. She was attending a Revelation Seminar at the local Seventh-day Adventist church and had come to church for prayer meeting. When she heard me speak, she longed to help with the project, but she felt that as an older woman she didn’t have much to give. As she prayed, she felt the Lord speaking to her as He had to Moses. “What do you have in your hand?”
She looked out her window and saw her farm land. “I could give some land!” Fonda thought. She chose to give us the two acres on the back end of her property. Then she remembered a dream she had had previously about that back acreage. One night as she slept she dreamed that the two acres at the south end of her property were filled with fatted cows. At the time she had not understood the dream, but now, as she gave the land to Three Angels Broadcasting Network, the dream was beginning to have a special meaning.
About this same time I visited a Christian television station in the area with two brothers. While we were there, Clarence Larson, an engineer at the station and a distant neighbour of mine, approached me. “I feel compelled to tell you something, he said. “I’ve always thought of you as a carpenter and a singer, but I believe you could build a satellite TV station here in southern Illinois.” Then Clarence began to explain microwaves and uplinks to me. I learned that not just any land would work. The land needed for uplinking a c-band television station had to be free of all microwave interference, and land like that is hard to find. “I believe there is some land in Thompsonville that would work for your station,’ Clarence concluded.
Again the Lord had showed me that He was in charge of the project. Clarence, a neighbour with whom I was barely acquainted, approached me and told me that he thought I should start a television station. Then, using his engineering experience, he told me where he thought I should put it – in Thompsonville – exactly where the two acres Fond Summers had donated were located. Coincidence? No. It was another encouraging gift from the Lord.
Feeling convinced that Fonda’s land was blessed of the Lord, I called about proceeding with the testing for microwave interference. The voice on the other end of the line tried to discourage me. “It’s practically against all odds that the piece of land you want tested will be free of microwave interference. The testing is very expensive and takes many months. Are you sure you want to go through with this?” I was sure. With all the miracles God had performed up to this point, I didn’t doubt His leading.
After eight months of expensive research testing, the little two acre plot was found to be totally free of any microwave interference, although microwaves came very close, encircling three sides of the property. All I could say was, “Praise the Lord!”
As building plans began on the site, I again witnessed many amazing blessings of the Lord. We wanted to build a road back to the building site, but we didn’t have enough money. We did rent a bulldozer so we could grade the road, however. Then I called a gravel company and told the person who answered how long and how wide the road was. “How much is it going to cost us for the rock?” I asked.
“About $6,000,” came the reply.
I knew we didn’t have near that much money, but I said, “Put us on order for next week, and I’ll call back when we have everything squared away.”
We prayed, asking God to provide the money we needed for the rock if it was His will. Then I had to go to California for a few days. When I returned, I found that 3ABN had received only two pieces of mail while I was gone. I opened the first letter. There was a check from Chicago for $2,000. I opened the second letter from La Mesa, California. Inside was another check – this one for $4,000! The Lord had supplied exactly what we needed. Praise God.
Later, on a 3ABN program, Linda and I interviewed Marvin and Rosella about that experience. Said Marvin, “We knew God impressed us to give the money, so we stepped out in faith. In almost no time at all, that money came back into our checking account, through our business and our work, and made up for what e gave to 3ABN. The Lord said, ‘give and it shall be given unto you’ (Luke 6:38), and I know He has blessed us tremendously. Everything I have I owe to Him. The Lord keeps giving back the money I give away for Him!”
Then Clarence Larson approached me with a concern. He wasn’t sure where we were going to get the power for such a large station way out in the country. “You’re a mile and a half from the highway where there is three-phase power, and it would cost a lot to run four cables that mile and a half. It’s not an industrial area, so I don’t know why anything way out there would be wired for three phase power.” As we drove out that night to look, we were praying for another miracle. Clarence, with flashlight in hand, craned his neck as we neared the driveway to the building site. “I never would have believed it,” he said, surprise in his voice. There, right by the driveway to our property, was the three phase power we needed.
There were two electric companies in that area, I learned from Clarence. One was cheaper than the other. “Knowing how things have been going for you,” Clarence said, “this line will be the cheaper company.” Clarence was right. When I talked to the company about extending the line from the road down the driveway to our site, I asked why there was three phase power way out there.
“It’s something they did a long time ago,” was the reply. Again, the Lord had planned for our needs a long time in advance. I am happy to have Clarence on our staff as chief engineer. Together, we have witnessed many such blessings since 3ABN began broadcasting on the air.
One day I received a phone call from Dale, a new friend, urging Linda and me to attend the ASI (Adventist laypersons Services and Industries) Convention. Knowing that we didn’t have the money to fly to the convention, I declined. “If the Lord supplies the money for the tickets and the hotel, we will go,” I told him. After I had hung the phone, Linda and I prayed and told the Lord that if He supplied our needs we would know it was His will for us to go.
Immediately after our prayer, the phone rang. It was Dale again. “Right after I had hung up the phone, the Lord impressed me to pay your way,” he said.
The convention in Montana was a blessing in so many ways. We heard many thrilling stories as others shared their blessings. Someone asked if there would be some time for me to share our story. A man from ASI who was standing near by heard the question posed to me and said,” Sorry, but we’ve arranged everything in advance, and there is just no time left.”
Only one afternoon during the convention was left open so that everyone could take advantage of the available ski lift rides and see the beautiful scenery in that part of the country. But that morning as the meetings were winding down before lunch, dark clouds began to gather, and it began to rain – hard. As I sat listening to the speaker, I noticed that a man kept pointing in my direction and motioning for someone to come and talk with him. Finally I realized he was asking me to come. “Would you share your 3ABN story with this group this afternoon?” he asked. WOULD I! Late that afternoon God sent a beautiful rainbow at the end of the storm that seemed to encircle the whole building where we were. That was a special blessing to Linda ad me.
Before we had left home for the ASI convention, we realized that there was not enough money in the checking account to pay for the cement to pour the floor for our new building. We needed $10,000. I did not mention this need in my talk that afternoon in Montana, however. Later that afternoon we had a table set up, and Linda and I were selling some of my gospel tapes and records. While I was talking to someone, a couple came to our table, selected some music tapes and wrote a check, which they handed to Linda. As they began to walk away, Linda tapped me on the shoulder, rather excitedly. “I’ll be with you in a minute,” I promised.
“But this is important,” she urged. After I had excused myself, I asked what she wanted. “That couple wrote a check for the tapes they just bought,” she said, as she held the check in front of my nose. The amount written on the check was $10,000. God had done it again!
As the work progressed, a new need developed. We were getting the building ready, but we needed an electrician – one who knew how to build an uplink satellite station. One day I was praying for an electrician as I walked toward our home. As I neared the door, I heard the telephone ringing.
“Hello, is this Danny Shelton?” the heavily accented voice on the other end of the line asked.
“I’m Gonzalo Santos, and I heard that you need an electrician. I’m interested, and feel impressed that the Lord wants me to help you with this job.”
Gonzalo lived in Chicago and said he would drive down on the weekends. “But you must not now where we live,” I interrupted. “We are 300 miles from Chicago.”
“I know because I have driven through your country before,” Gonzalo said.
But I can’t pay you. We don’t have money to hire an electrician,” I continued.
“I don’t expect pay,” he replied.
“But you don’t know what is involved. This is quite complicated. My brother is an electrician, and he won’t even touch this project.”
“I’d still like to help,” Gonzalo answered.
Thinking that because of his accent he still didn’t comprehend what I was saying, I continued. “We need a commercial electrician. One who knows how to build an uplink station for satellite.”
“Yes, I know,” was the response. “I’ve put up two before. I’ve been a Seventh-day Adventist for about five years now,” he continued,” and I want to do something special for Jesus. This is something I know I can do.”
I had come to the house praying for an electrician, and when my prayer was immediately answered, I had tried to discourage him! I’m glad that Gonzalo was not easily discouraged, for he was indeed an answer to prayer.
Every Friday after he got off work, Gonzalo would drive the 300 miles to our place and spend Sabbath with us. Then, after sundown on Saturday night, he would begin to work. Usually he would bring a friend who couldn’t speak English, and together they would work late Saturday night. Then they would work all day Sunday and late into the night before they would head for home so they could be up and to their jobs again on Monday morning. Week after week Gonzalo continued this schedule.
“Can’t we give you something for all the work you are doing?” I would ask. I knew he had a wife and children, and I let him know that we had not intended that he work for nothing. “Please let us pay you something,” I would plead. But he wouldn’t take any money.
“I’m not working for you,” he would respond. “I’m working for Jesus. If I were working for you, then you could pay me.”
Since those first days of planning and building, God has never ceased to pour out His blessings on Three Angels Broadcasting Network. We continue to see evidences of His leading and blessings daily. We now transmit our programming to countries around the world, via 5 satellites, and are receiving more and more requests for 3ABN programming.
Three Angels Broadcasting Network now operates downlink stations all over the United States, one in Russia and another in Manila and others are currently under construction in cities throughout the United States and Port Moresby, PNG. We have a Spanish / Portuguese station and Radio, a new master control center and more.
But more important than any of these blessings are the changed lives that we see and hear about almost daily. Through the miracle of television we are able to reach people in homes that might other-wise never hear of the love of God. They might never learn of the true character of God in any other way. Just as our theme song says, everyone here at 3ABN is dedicated to mending broken people, and what a thrill it is to receive several thousand letters monthly from people, many telling us how learning of God through our broadcasts has changed their lives.
I know the Lord has blessed Three Angels Broadcasting Network. In fact, I can’t wait to see what He has planned for 3ABN in the future.