“To God Be The Glory” Part 14

You’ve been reading excerpts and hearing about a few of the miracles God performed as He carried out His dream for Danny Shelton, and the vision for 3ABN. The miracles have not stopped. The dream is still alive, and the vision continues. However, many of our new viewers are anxious to hear more of the 3ABN story at a faster pace—and justifiably so; they have 24 years of catching up to do!

In these past articles I endeavored to highlight a few of the wondrous details and miracles that Danny so vividly painted on the  canvas of my heart, starting with the early years of 3ABN. However, what I remember most is that he never took credit for one single miracle or provision granted to 3ABN. He always gave all the glory to God.

I’ve never heard him say, “Brother Hal, guess what I did?” or “Can you believe how much money I raised?” or “Look what I’ve accomplished.” There was never a King Me, or Big I in his vocabulary. He’s always been quick to say, “I’m amazed at what God has done,” or, “If I had not seen it with my own eyes, it would be hard to believe—to God be the glory!”

The Danny Shelton that Mollie and I met when we moved here in 1981 is not the same man he is today. Back then he had faith, but now he lives by faith. He was compassionate then, but he is compelled by compassion now. He listened to the Spirit then, but he is led by the Spirit now. Danny kept the Sabbath then, but he embraces the Sabbath now.

God developed Danny’s character from the inside out in His refiner’s fire. The Gethsemanes of leading a worldwide ministry have caused his heart to tremble for the presence of the Lord in everything he does. I see it in his eyes as he talks about what God is doing through 3ABN. I hear it in his voice as he speaks of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14.

His outer man has changed, too. He sports a few battle scars from fighting the good fight of faith for the last 24 years. Sometimes he appears a little weary from running the race and resisting those who have thought 3ABN would be better off in the hands of a committee, rather than in the hands of God. He has survived the wrath of false witnesses; those who had never even met him, and yet tried to be his judge, jury, and executioner. Through it all, Danny still declares, “To God be the glory.”

I know from personal experience that Danny Shelton has stood in the face of adversity and demonstrated Christian character. I’ve seen times when he was ridiculed and did not retaliate. I remember when he started building the first 3ABN building, and a local pastor called and told me I needed to have a talk with him. He said, “Danny has gone crazy and is building a Noah’s Ark out in a field in Thompsonville!”

After all this, Danny is still not only singing 3ABN’s theme song, “Mending Broken People,” he is a man that lives the words of that song every day. The chorus goes, “I want to spend my life, mending broken people. I want to spend my whole life removing pain. Lord, let my words heal a heart that hurts. I want to spend my life mending broken people.”

It has been a long time since I’ve heard anyone make fun of Danny Shelton or 3ABN. However, I have the feeling that if someone did, and Danny heard about it, all he would say would be, “Well, to God be the glory!”

 For information about the complete book and video “Mending Broken People” or “3ABN the Early Days” go to our website store at   3abn.org.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

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“Can You Hear Me Now?” Part 13

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!

Immediately his modest crew started work on the transmitter shack—a 12- by 16-foot building about the size of an average bedroom. It was just large enough to hold the transmitting equipment.

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?”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Letter Of Credit” Part 12

The phone call came from Scientific Atlanta with the estimate for the equipment needed to put 3ABN on satellite. Sue, who was in charge of their finance department, informed Danny that it would cost $350,000 to have the satellite uplink dish and transmitter built and installed. Then she told him she would need a deposit of $70,000 to begin the work.

“All I have is $10,000,” Danny replied, “and that seemed like a lot of money just a few minutes ago!”

“Do you have a letter of credit?” Sue asked.

Danny thought for a moment. A letter of credit? I don’t even have a credit card! However, I believe what God impressed on me is true—that I would not have to borrow money to build this station. It’s His vision, and He will always supply, if I will always obey.

“No, I don’t,” he replied honestly.

Just a few days earlier, Danny had been praising God for his encounter with the district sales representative for this very company. As he’d shared the miracles God had already performed, the man had seemed impressed. It must have been orchestrated by God, but now everything seemed to come to a standstill.

A few days later, he received another call from that sales rep. After hearing about their conversation, he encouraged Danny to call Sue again, and tell her about the miracles.

“Sue, I wonder if I could take a moment to tell you how this station has come about,” Danny began. After telling her the miraculous stories, he didn’t ask her to make an exception to the company’s policies; he just told her the Lord had impressed him that He would supply all his needs. He also told her he believed the money would be there when the equipment was ready to be delivered.

She asked if he really thought that he could come up with $350,000 in three months.

“Yes,” Danny replied.

Then came the surprise. “I’m a Christian too, and I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I believe you, and I’m going to trust you,” Sue said. “We’ll start immediately on the equipment—but don’t forget—three hundred and fifty thousand dollars!” Then she made arrangements to set up the cost of the equipment on installments until the project was completed.

Danny reflected back to a conversation with a lady he’d met at the laymen’s convention in Colorado. As May Chung listened to him, she seemed impatient.

“We need to get this up and going now, Danny,” she’d said. “What is the problem?”

When he told her that Scientific Atlanta was working on an estimate, and that the equipment would probably cost around  $400,000, she’d had a grand plan.

“Danny, she said, “I’m so impressed that this network needs to be up quickly that I’ll loan you the money at a very low interest rate, and you can pay it back as the donations come in.”

He had been overwhelmed, but felt that was not what God wanted him to do, so he told May that God would not allow him to go in debt.

Now the first payment was fast approaching, and he was surprised to hear from May again. She told him that he could have the money interest-free, and that he could pay it back whenever he could. Again he said no.

Danny prayed earnestly, knowing that any day Sue would call again.

When the phone rang again, it was May. But this time she told Danny she would give him $100,000 toward the equipment. “Oh yes,” she added, “I called Ellsworth McKee, a dedicated Adventist, and owner of Little Debbie Snack Cakes. He’s also giving you $100,000.”

Danny had good news for Sue when she called. He didn’t need a letter of credit—he had a letter from the King of kings!

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Cloud by Day” Part 11

Danny looked out the ski lodge windows in Big Sky, Montana, as the clouds rolled in and the rain cascaded down the mountainside. The weather had been beautiful all week, but God had a special plan for that particular Friday afternoon, and a good ol’ soaking rainstorm was part of it. Danny was about to experience another miracle for the ministry.

He thought back to a few days earlier when Dale McBride had called and invited him to this ASI convention in Big Sky. Dale felt an urgency that the 3ABN story needed to be told there.

“I don’t even know what ASI is,” Danny had admitted.

“ASI stands for Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries,” Dale answered. “It’s a group of lay Adventist businessmen and organizations, and we meet to discuss ways to help various Christian projects.”

“It sounds interesting,” Danny said, “but I don’t have the money to fly there, and I sure can’t afford a room in a resort.”

Dale then told him he felt so strongly about this, he would sponsor him.

When Danny arrived, he already had a self-appointed public relations agent representing 3ABN. Rosella McColpin was telling everyone who would listen about the miracles she had personally witnessed, and the 3ABN miracle stories began to buzz like bees through the Montana trees.

One of the ASI officials heard the humming, and decided to put an end to it before people got stung, like they had the previous year. He told Danny that everything was planned a year in advance, and that it was ASI’s policy not to make any last minute changes. He also told him one of the reasons for this policy was because they had allowed someone to speak the previous year without checking him out thoroughly. They had even taken an offering of several thousand dollars—and no one had seen him since!

“So,” the official said, “there will be no chance of you speaking this year.”

Nonetheless, God works in mysterious ways. He didn’t need a pillar of fire, but He did need a cloud by day. Next, He mixed in  some strong winds, and poured out the rain, fashioning the perfect weather for an afternoon speaking opportunity for Danny Shelton. What else was ASI going to do with four hundred people, now that all their outdoor activities were cancelled?

At the close of the morning meetings, a nervous and humble ASI representative motioned Danny aside.

“We’re in a real dilemma here,” he said. “We have to plan something for the people, since there’s nothing they can do outside. Could you possibly tell your miracle story about 3ABN?”

That was Danny’s introduction to ASI, an organization that has since been hugely supportive of 3ABN’s ministry. He told his story, and God’s people caught the vision. Many hearts were touched as he shared God’s dream for a television station that would reach the world with the undiluted three angels’ messages of Revelation 14—one that would counteract the counterfeit.

A little 3ABN sign was hastily made, and a small table was set up for Danny’s gospel tapes, along with fliers for his ministry. Bill and Betty Bowers bought two tapes and wrote him a check, and later, when he looked at it, he thought to himself, I’ve either been selling our cassettes too cheap, or somebody made a mistake! Their check was for ten thousand dollars!

Danny thanked them for their generosity, even as his mind raced back to that hot August day, when standing in a half-finished shell of a building, he thanked God for the fifty thousand dollars the McColpins had given. Then he had wondered where the money would come from to finish the floor—since concrete was not cheap.

How about that, God, he thought. The cost of the concrete is the same amount as this check—to the penny. Thank You, Lord.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“A Miracle That Birthed A Mircle” Part 10

A retired couple from Apison, Tennessee, looked over the simple little newsletter that a friend had passed on to them which told about what God was doing in southern Illinois. It wasn’t a worldwide mailing; Danny had typed it himself on a Commodore 64 and sent it to a meager two hundred people. However, it had so impressed Marvin and Rosella McColpin, that they sent in a small donation.

Now they had decided to call, and when Danny answered, they told him they were headed to Newfoundland to see about helping a ministry there, and wanted to know if they could stop by and talk to him about the 3ABN vision.

“Of course you can,” Danny said. “We would love to have you visit us.”

Marvin and Rosella were planning to spend only one day with the Sheltons, but they got so excited about the project they canceled their trip to Newfoundland.

What were they so excited about? The Holy Spirit got them excited over trenches. That’s right—trenches dug to pour the concrete footings. Isn’t that exciting? It was to them, because they caught the vision.

When Marvin asked Danny how much money was set aside to put up the building, he almost choked when Danny replied, “We  have about $200 in the bank, and that will go for renting the construction equipment.”

“You mean you don’t have enough money to pour the footings?” he asked, amazed that Danny had even started to build. “What if you get the footings dug and it rains before you get money for the cement?”

“Well,” Danny laughed, “maybe the Lord wants three-foot deep ditches! Besides,” he explained, “how can we expect the Lord to give us more money if we haven’t used what He’s already given us?”

“How much do you think it will cost to put up the shell of the building?” he inquired.

“Maybe fifty thousand dollars,” Danny answered, as truthfully as he could.

The McColpins were kind people, and interested in God’s work, but Danny could tell they didn’t have much to give, by the simple way they lived. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit had already started prompting their hearts to donate when Danny’s phone rang that night. It was Clarence Larson calling to tell Danny they needed a miracle.

What no one knew, of course, was that God had decided to demonstrate His power to Marvin and Rosella, and birth one miracle from another miracle.

God wanted Marvin in the back seat of that van as Danny and Clarence drove down the gravel roads of Thompsonville, looking for a three-phase power miracle. God wanted him there to see this miracle, not just hear about it.

Then, after witnessing this miracle firsthand, the McColpins presented the Sheltons with a check for $25,000!

Danny was shocked that night, but overwhelmed the next morning, when they handed him another check for the same amount!

Undoubtedly, he thought, they must have this money in savings. However, he found out later that this was not the case when the McColpins asked him not to cash the checks until they returned home and made some arrangements.

You see, they were so impressed that 3ABN was God’s work, they went home and mortgaged their house for $50,000, making it possible for 3ABN’s first studio to be built before winter!

“In the next six months, our business of reselling land made more money than we had ever made before,” Marvin told Danny later. “In fact, we made enough money to pay off that mortgage, and still had as much money left over as we did before we gave the $50,000 to 3ABN!” 

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Is It Too Late to Stop?” Part 9

The voice on the other end on the phone was almost frantic. Danny thought it was his engineer friend, Clarence Larson, but it was hard to tell with all the panic in his voice.

“Is it too late to stop the building?” Clarence asked.

“Yes, it’s it too late. Why?”

“We may have made a terrible mistake—a horrible mistake,” Clarence continued, “and I’m feeling responsible because I’m the one who should have seen it!”

“Slow down, Clarence. What’s wrong?”

“I just realized we’re going to need three-phase power for the satellite uplink, and I don’t think there are any of those power lines anywhere near the property! What earthly reason would anyone have to put three-phase power in the middle of nowhere? You’re going to have to pay half the cost to get industrial power to your site—a mile and a quarter off the highway! Do you realize what four large cables, plus power poles, and all the construction will cost you? This will bankrupt you!”

“Well Clarence,” Danny replied, “I’m not going to worry about it. Either God has already figured out who’s going to give us the money we need, or the three-phase power is already out there, and we don’t know it.”

Clarence was still skeptical. “I don’t think there’s three-phase power way out in the middle of a cow pasture in Thompsonville, Illinois, Danny. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner! I’m not going to rest until I know where the closest three-phase power is.”

“Well, then let’s go right now and see for ourselves.”

It was nine o’clock. As they drove down the road together, Clarence beamed his powerful flashlight on every pole. No three-phase power. The farther they got from the highway, the more discouraged he became.

“I knew it wouldn’t be out here. There are only a few trailers and a farm house on this road, and they don’t need all that power.”

Coming to a sharp righthand turn in the road, just a few hundred feet from the new 3ABN turnoff, Clarence’s flashlight beamed up the next pole.

“That’s it! That’s it! There’s the three-phase power—right here! This is impossible!” he exclaimed. “There’s nothing out here that requires it!”

The next morning they went back out to make sure they hadn’t made a mistake. To their great amazement, they found that the three-phase power lines cut through a field off the highway right to their driveway, and then made a sharp turn, heading off in a different direction. There seemed to be no rational explanation for this, either.

Clarence explained that two electrical companies supplied power to this area, “and the way things are going for you, Danny, it’s probably the cheaper one,” he added. “Call them and find out why there’s three-phase power running through the middle of nowhere and see if we can hook up to it.”

Sure enough, the power lines belonged to the less expensive company, and 3ABN was able to connect for less than two thousand dollars.

“Why is there three-phase power out in the middle of a field?” Danny asked the power company representative.

“I have no idea,” he said. “Thirty or forty years ago our company ran three-phase lines in order to provide power for our own systems. That may be the reason, but all I can say is you’re a lucky man.”

“I think it was more than luck,” Danny replied. “I believe God had His hand in your plans years ago.” Then he began to tell the man about the 3ABN project, and some of the miracles God had provided.

Actually, before the three-phase power lines were ever laid through Thompsonville, Illinois, they were already laid as a part of the 3ABN vision by the Three-Phase Power Company of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

God’s Building Plans – Part 8

As Danny Shelton began to see God work miracle after miracle at just the right time, and with just the right amount of money, his faith soared. On Friday nights and Sabbath afternoons, the little group of family and church members gathered at the 3ABN building site to pray and sing, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.” Those were hopeful days. They had so little—and needed so much. Nevertheless, like explorers, their sights were on their goal, instead of the tremendous hurdles that lay before them. And they kept moving forward.

The group had no idea how large a building to construct, so Danny started out with plans to build a small, 40 by 70 foot building. But this was where he learned that faith and common sense were not the same thing, and so he enlarged his plans to 50 by 90 feet.

Finally, as he and his brother Kenny walked out on to the land to stake out the building, God laid out His plans in Danny’s heart—at least as much of it as his finite faith could handle at that time.

Danny put a stake in one corner of God’s holy ground, and as Kenny held the tape measure, he started walking in the opposite direction—going well past the ninety feet he intended!

“Do you think this is big enough?” he called back.

“It looks fine to me,” Kenny answered.

But God was saying, “Go a little farther son; go on, use your faith, and not your common sense.”

Danny kept walking—almost to the end of the tape! Finally he stopped at 150 feet. “What do you think about making it this big?” he called back.

“Okay,” Kenny hollered.

As Danny pounded the stake, I believe God smiled.

They did the same thing to determine the width of the building, ending up with a 60 by 150 foot building. If they built most of it in two stories, there would be a total of about 16,000  square feet. It looked really big to Danny as he looked at those stakes in the middle of an empty field. In fact, he’d never built anything that big—especially without a penny to do it!

In those days, I was sure that none of them had any inkling of the magnitude of the work they were starting. When I looked at the building stakes for the first time, my only comment was, “It’s not nearly big enough! Why are you building such a little building?”

Within a few years, my prediction came true. By 1994, 3ABN began building a new office and production facility that would be three times larger than the original, and when it was completed in 1996 it became 3ABN’s major Production Center and the network’s world headquarters.

The original Uplink Building, with one production studio, was used only as the Master Control facility, but later it housed the offices and production equipment for 3ABN Radio Network.

3ABN now has a state-of-the art Sound Center, as well as a large Call Center. In 2003 Master Control was moved to 3ABN’s headquarters, the Production Center, as well. Then, a new 1,500-seat Worship Center was built across from the new Thompsonville Christian School and gymnasium. And, oh yes, let’s not forget the new production studio for 3ABN’s Kids’ Time programs, or the SonBeam, Proclaim, International, Russian and Dare To Dream channels. As you can see, the construction hasn’t stopped as 3ABN continues to grow, following God’s building plans. When we follow God’s building plans, we can never build big enough, because God has a world vision.

Danny may have only had a tape measure in his hand when he walked across that first plot of land, but he had God’s vision in his heart. 

  Pastor Hal Steenson