The shell of 3ABN’s first building was up, but not complete, when Scientific Atlanta called Danny. They told him the satellite dish was ready to be delivered, and that the final payment was due. Danny was praising God because the money had just arrived to finalize the nearly $400,000 deal to put 3ABN’s signal on the air. However, there was nowhere to house the equipment!
By the world’s way of thinking, the proper way of building a worldwide television network like 3ABN would take perhaps six to eight years. The last thing they would purchase would be the satellite uplink dish equipment, after everything else had been completed. Normally the buildings would be built and wired, and money would be secured for several years of satellite transponder time—and then the network would go on the air. But this was not Danny Shelton’s goal. His most urgent goal was to reach the world with the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14. God had furnished the equipment and the money for it, and Danny knew it was time to begin broadcasting.
When he called the satellite company, he found out that the transponder time would cost $50,000 a month, and they wanted him to sign a three-year contract! Even though he didn’t have any money, Danny knew God would supply. And sure enough, He did!
May Chung called and offered to put up a plot of land she owned as collateral for 3ABN’s monthly payments. (May still owns her property. 3ABN never missed a payment—thanks to faithful financial supporters like you!)
Okay, Father, Danny thought. You’ve given us the land, cleared all the interferences, built the building, and provided $400,000 worth of network equipment—and three years of satellite transponder time! I’m going to take that as a green light!
Then 3ABN’s volunteer engineer, Clarence Larson, installed the equipment which hummed and buzzed—in fact it made so much noise one could barely hear the phone ring!
It was 8:00 p.m. on November 23, 1986. Clarence took one of the tapes Danny had borrowed from It is Written and slid it into the tape deck—which sat on cardboard boxes. As he threw the switch to begin broadcasting, everyone cheered. However, when the noise died down, Danny had a question.
“How will we know if anyone is watching us?”
“That’s easy,” Clarence replied. “I’ve inserted our phone number across the screen periodically, saying, ‘Call for our free offer.’ ”
Just then, the phone rang.
“3ABN, may I help you?”
“Yes, I would like to order a copy of your free offer. Let me give you my name and address.”
Danny was shocked and elated, all at the same time. They’d been on the air for only a minute or two and someone had already called! Now he faced a new problem. There was so much noise inside that transmitter room that he had trouble hearing the caller. He was pretty sure the caller was having trouble, too, so he grabbed a pen and stepped outside into the cold air.
“Can you hear me now?”
That first broadcast lasted two hours, and so did those first phone calls. God had confirmed His promise, His dream, and His vision: from those humble, two-hour broadcasts to one satellite from a tiny shack in southern Illinois, to a network that now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, covering 99% of the inhabited world with internet, 11 satellites, 131 TV stations around the world, and many hundreds of cable companies. I wonder if God is asking, “Can you hear Me now?”