by Matthew Crouch
Not long ago I had the privilege of visiting the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, where the great Sixteenth Century Protestant reformer John Knox prayed a simple, powerful prayer for the salvation of his nation and people that still echoes across the centuries. That prayer — “Give me Scotland or I die!” — struck the principalities of darkness with terror and even caused earthly powers to tremble. Mary Queen of Scots was said to have uttered: “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” Most importantly, Knox's prayer resounded in the halls of heaven, reaching the heart of God and leading to a spiritual revival that impacted not just Scotland, but the British Isles and beyond.
Four-hundred and fifty years later the prayers of pastors and Christian leaders — along with rank-and-file believers — are reaching the heart of God on behalf of the entire United Kingdom. I know many observers insist that the passion for Christ which once burned brightly throughout the British Isles, propelling the gospel to nearly every country and kingdom on earth, has now disappeared. In fact, it has become almost an accepted fact that Britain today is little more than a “post-Christian” nation sinking into moral and spiritual decay.
But what I have witnessed as I have visited with pastors and Christian leaders across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland has convinced me of something far different — that the United Kingdom is, in reality, on the leading edge of a great spiritual outpouring that is going to turn millions back to the faith of their fathers.
I believe the flame that ignited the spiritual passion of some of Britain's greatest Christian leaders and evangelists — from John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, and William Booth of centuries past to C.T. Studd, Smith Wigglesworth, George Jeffreys, and Rees Howells in more recent history — is now burning in the hearts of a new generation of men and women throughout the United Kingdom.
My late father, TBN founder Paul Crouch Sr., believed that as well. He had a keen sense about the beginnings of revival and the move of God among peoples and nations. That is why a few years ago he took the steps to increase the presence of TBN in the UK. Those steps would ultimately lead to a broadcast platform that today is reaching virtually every home in the UK with the good news of Jesus Christ. Let me tell you the miraculous story that brought this about.
For years TBN's presence in the UK consisted of a small office in Dover on England's southeastern coast that served as the headquarters of our TBN Europe network. But in 2012 we made a strategic decision to locate and purchase property in London to build a major studio that would serve the production needs of TBN Europe, as well as many of our other global networks. As we determined the prerequisites for such a facility, we realized we wanted the studio to be located in the heart of London with all of its rich ethnic diversity, as well as in the vicinity of the city's vibrant and growing Christian community. Richard Fleming, our TBN Europe director, went to work to locate an appropriate property, and before long we were in London taking possession of a 32,000-square-foot building a stone's throw from Wembley Stadium and Buckingham Palace, and beginning to turn it into a state-of-the-art production facility. But as you will see, God had a much bigger plan in mind.
Over the next several months, as my father and I flew into London to check on the progress of the new studio renovation, that divine plan began to emerge. On one of our trips Richard Fleming brought up a rather far-fetched, audacious idea: What if TBN were to launch a whole new Christian television network on Freeview, the United Kingdom's popular free-to-air broadcast platform that reaches over 95 percent of homes throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland? That would mean more than 65 million individuals and families — most of them with no connection to a church or faith community — would have access 24 hours a day to dynamic ministry programming, compelling church services, cutting-edge worship music, and other innovative content designed to give them a clear and balanced message of the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
Richard pointed out that there was not a more powerful or effective way to reach every person in the United Kingdom with the gospel. Such a step would actually represent the largest single increase of viewership in TBN's forty-year history. What an incredible opportunity to take the love of Jesus to a nation desperately in need of spiritual renewal! I could see my dad — whose stated goal in life was to win “one more soul to Christ” — getting increasingly excited as he considered the prospect of this new TBN UK network.
There was only one catch: The cost would be steep. Richard explained that TBN's presence throughout the UK on Freeview would cost nearly $1 million per month, a figure that caused my father — a no-nonsense businessman who considered the stewardship of TBN's resources a God-ordained duty — to pause. “Wow! That's a lot of money,” he exclaimed quietly, thinking about the countless individuals and families who partnered with TBN each month with their hard-earned dollars and heartfelt prayers.
Later that day, as we were being driven to the airport to fly out of London, it was clear that my dad was still wrestling with the huge financial commitment it would take for TBN to dive into this tremendous opportunity to reach all of the UK. As we rode through the English countryside, accompanied by Richard Fleming along with our silent Arabic driver, our discussion was all about this incredible — and imposing — opportunity that lay before us. For the seemingly impossible amount of almost $1 million per month TBN could reach every household in the UK with life-changing Christian television. Such an endeavor would certainly take a step of faith — as big a step as any of the countless made by my father over TBN's forty-year history.
In the middle of our conversation however, my dad, who had been gazing out the window for some time, suddenly asked: “What are these fields of yellow crops we've been passing.” While Richard and I had been oblivious to the surrounding countryside, my dad, always a Missouri farm boy at heart, had caught sight of field after vast field of a bright yellow crop in bloom, and he was now insistent on knowing what it was these English farmers were growing. We turned to Richard, the only native Brit in the car, for an answer, but he was in the dark. Similarly, the Google app on my iPhone shed no light on what was growing in the fields.
As we drove along, mulling over the pros, cons, risks, and rewards of a TBN network blanketing the UK, my father continued to be uncharacteristically distracted by these mysterious fields of brilliant yellow. While a monumental decision concerning TBN's future outreach loomed before him, Paul Crouch was fixating on fields of yellow flowers in the English countryside.
Suddenly our stoic Arab driver, who had been silent throughout the entire trip, turned in his seat and uttered one emphatic word that answered the mystery of the fields of yellow, and seemed to give my dad confirmation about his decision: “Mustard!”
That one word was like a prophetic message from God, reminding my dad of Jesus' admonition that if we have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, we could move any mountain that stood in our way. Yes, a million dollars a month seemed like a huge obstacle, but with even a little faith in God that million-dollar mountain could be pushed aside and tens of millions of individuals and families would have the life-changing message of Jesus available to them right in their homes.
The humor of the illustration God used to get his attention was not lost on my dad, who later noted that while for most people a single mustard seed was enough of a picture, “for this stubborn old German it took a whole English countryside full of mustard fields for God to convince me that with our small faith He would cover the UK with the message of His dear Son.”
Within days of that drive my dad approved the contract, and on January 5th, a little over a year after he went home to heaven, TBN UK launched on Freeview Channel 65, and today is reaching literally every home throughout the United Kingdom with 24-hour Christian programming, much of it produced by caring local congregations and ministries that can mentor and encourage individuals and families who come to faith in Christ.
Yes, there are significant challenges, as research shows only six percent of UK residents go to church. But the good news is that across the United Kingdom there is a great spirit of cooperation among believers, pastors, and ministries to reach neighborhoods, communities, and every area of the UK with the hope and healing that only Jesus can bring. As TBN UK has gone on the air, we have forged strong partnerships with ministries like United Christian Broadcasters, a fellow UK television outreach, and with congregations like Holy Trinity Brompton, Hope City Church in Manchester, and Hillsong London.
Like my father, I strongly believe that the fires of revival are beginning to burn again throughout the UK, in the congregations of praying, passionate people of God. And in every home across the UK, individuals and families are literally one click away from having a 24-hour lifeline of God's hope and mercy through the broadcast outreach of TBN UK. As God's people give themselves to prayer, crying out for His mercy in the midst of increasing darkness, God will be faithful to respond with a fresh outpouring of His Spirit, touching the hearts of a new generation of men and women awaiting the hope and purpose that can only come through Jesus Christ.
Will you join me and others in a concert of intercession to God for such a mighty outpouring?
To find out more about TBN UK and how you can be involved, log on to www.tbnuk.org.
About the Trinity Broadcasting Network
Trinity Broadcasting Network is the world’s largest and most watched faith-and-family broadcaster, reaching over 175 nations across the earth with inspirational and entertaining programming 24 hours a day in 14 languages and on 32 global networks. As the world’s most influential non-profit religious broadcaster, TBN has led the way in expanding the impact of faith-based television across the earth through the creation of innovative content designed to reach every viewer demographic with the life-changing message of hope and grace. To find out more about the TBN Networks, visit us at www.tbn.org.
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