“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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“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 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

“The Hourglass of Life”

James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.There was a time in my life when all my priorities were out of order. However, I was very unaware of those shortcomings until I started seeing my life swirling around as if it were in a whirlpool. I spiritually swam myself to safety and began to reevaluate my fate. When I asked myself how this had happened, I remembered something I had heard as a novice Christian. That statement instilled a warped mental impression of what the ministry really is. I remembered listening to a boastful young pastor declaring that he was so committed to the ministry that he had accepted a speaking engagement on his honeymoon night. At that time, I thought he must be a dedicated man of God. I now realize that he was missing God by a country mile, because his priorities were out of order.For years, I esteemed my pastoral ministry and church above everything else in my life, sometimes even God. I had unknowingly established a doomed lifestyle. I had placed the ministry above the mission and I now know that will never work or produce fruit for God’s Kingdom. I had put the “I’ve got to’s” above the “God’s want to’s” in my life. I positioned the local church and the ministry above God, above my wife, my children and above my personal time with the Lord. I’ve since learned that when your value system is out of order, everything and everyone associated with you suffers. As I began to peel away the layers of my mixed-up life, I saw that it was me that was out of sync rather than everyone else. Before the scales of deception fell from my eyes, all I saw were people that appeared uncommitted to God by not being committed to the church. I was unable to distinguish that the cause of Christ and commitment to the local church were two different facets of ministry.The sand was sifting through the opening of my life’s hourglass rapidly and I had to do something fast—I prayed. I prayed for the Lord to help me put things in proper order. First, God had to become number one in my life if anything else were to fit into my life’s purpose. I had to humble myself and ask Him to allow me the chance to change before all the sand was drained from the top to the bottom of my life’s hourglass. I was ashamed as the Father began to reveal all the wasted days and wasted ways that led to nowhere. He gave me the opportunity to change.It wasn’t easy to let go of my self-motivated, performance-oriented lifestyles, nonetheless, when I surrendered to Him, the Holy Spirit started directing my every move. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit became my pivotal point and everything else had to revolve around them. Next, after God, came my wife; I must never elevate or esteem anyone or anything above her–not our children, not our grandchildren, and certainly not my job. If I were going to accomplish what God purposed for my life, then my wife, Mollie, had to be by my side standing with me as one. Then after my wife, came my children and my grandchildren. Bringing up the rear was my job, which for most of my adult life, I had held in first place.

Since getting my priorities in order, my purpose has now become focused. First, I am to be a loving, caring and committed husband; one that leads his wife as the Lord directs. I am to be a godly example and father figure to my family. Last, I am to be a caretaker of all the Father has so graciously entrusted with me and be a good provider for my family. I am still watching as the sand sifts through the hourglass of my life, but that has become one of the least of my concerns. I am now living and loving life to its fullest and very aware that when, “My hourglass of this life runs out of sand, I will not be able to turn it over again.” I think I’ll go tell Mollie how much I love her and then I’ll call the kids tonight.

Father, I thank you for the opportunity to serve You in the 3ABN Pastoral Department and for all the necessary priority adjustments.

  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

The Real Thanksgiving

While contemplating the real meaning of Thanksgiving Day, the Lord quicken to my heart a passage found in Luke 17:11-19. It’s the account of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. According to God’s Word, there were ten lepers healed that day, however, only one returned to give thanks to the miracle Man called Jesus. All ten of the lepers had to have been thankful for their restoration, but I questioned in what sense were they actually thankful and how was their thanks expressed. This caused me to examine what real Thanksgiving entails and what truly defines it.

I came to the awareness that there are two different types of thanks-givers in this world and they are diametrically opposed. First, there are the selfish, self-centered, it’s all about me group. They are like the nine lepers that didn’t return to thank Jesus, but continued on their way for priestly approval. In the second group are those who are true thanks-givers, such as the one leper who returned in humility and adoration.

I pondered the difference between the two groups and about each one’s grand finale. The only difference that I could see was the direction of their appreciation and the motive of their thankfulness.

The nine that did not return with accolades for the Healer had praise for no one but themselves. They were self-absorbed and praised themselves for their underserved blessing. They had finalized their “give me that and give me this, on their never ending shopping list.” It’s true, they were cleansed and healed, but healing was all they received. The one returning leper got more than just a physical healing. He received a spiritual healing of eternal proportions.

God’s Word says, “he saw (realized) the gift, turned back (from his own selfish way), glorified God, and fell down at Christ’s feet, giving Him thanks… thy faith hath made thee whole.” Although the one leper was healed of his leprosy, he was not whole until he experienced the salvation of the Savior. Now I know what real Thanksgiving is all about and whom it’s all about—it’s about the salvation from our Savior.

The question I pose to you today is what kind of ‘thanks-giver’ will you be during this Thanksgiving season?

  Pastor Richard Pinero

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