Remembering the 25th Anniversary of Dr. McGee's Passing
by TTB International Director, Gregg Harris
On the morning of December 1, 1988, Dr. McGee was seated in a chair, alert, and visiting with the associate director of Thru the Bible. Their last conversation centered around Dr. McGee’s concern for the continuance of his radio ministry. A few minutes after the visit, Dr. McGee quietly passed into the presence of his Savior. His body is sleeping in Altadena, California, beneath a simple headstone at Mountain View Cemetery, awaiting the shout.
– From The Whole Word for the Whole World: The Life and Ministry of J. Vernon McGee (no longer in print)
This month marks a significant milestone for the ministry of Thru the Bible. Twenty-five years ago this month, our beloved founder and Bible teacher went to be with the Lord. For the past few months, we’ve been focusing on the legacy that Dr. McGee left us and the marvelous ways the Lord has grown and prospered the spread of His Word. Through the quiet faithfulness of the Board of Directors, the staff, and those who pray for and give to this work, it has done so much more than simply survive. The ministry of Thru the Bible has grown in ways that few of us could have imagined.
In our October newsletter, we celebrated the way God took a man, who then developed a ministry, which then became a movement of the Holy Spirit. Last month, we examined our ministry in North America and rejoiced in the many ways the Lord has grown and blessed our outreach. This month, we turn our attention to the global ministry of TTB. It is safe to say that the most remarkable expansion of our work has been in the international realm.
In a November 1988 letter to donors, just one month before he died, Dr. McGee wrote, “When I think of how these simple studies of God’s entire Word have spread across this hemisphere and then around the world – first in English and now in some 35 languages – I am forced to the conclusion that this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes!” As thrilled as he was to see the ministry add 35 new languages in only 15 years, can you imagine how excited he would be to know that more than 70 new languages would be added in the next 15 years?
Not only have we seen God allow us to triple the number of foreign language broadcasts, we have also seen the arrival of exciting new platforms for our broadcast content. In 1988, cell phones and personal computers were technological novelties. They were big, inefficient, and very expensive. Today, however, such devices are seen by many as essential tools for managing personal and business communications. Thru the Bible is taking full advantage of these new delivery systems to bring Dr. McGee’s teaching to people in ways that weren’t possible when he was alive.
In addition to radio broadcasts that can be heard in most places in the world, we have more than 40 languages available for listening on the Internet. We also have language-contextualized websites in 30 different languages (you can find them at ttb.twr.org). This means that anyone who wants to hear TTB in their language will be going to a website that is completely in their native tongue.
We are also thrilled to tell you about one of our most recent ministry developments: Just a few weeks ago, we launched the brand new TTB non-English smartphone app. Right now, there are 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, and half of those are used with smartphones that are capable of using apps and receiving audio content like TTB. The app currently has 30 languages available, which means that any of the 3 billion smartphone owners in the world can access TTB in a language they understand.
But we believe God has not completed the expansion of TTB’s ministry. We are prayerfully pursuing the goal of getting the more than 100 TTB languages into language-contextualized websites and on the TTB non-English app. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit and with your faithful prayers and gifts, we believe the ministry will continue to reach out to those longing to hear the Word of God – no matter what language they speak.
Dr. McGee had wonderfully prepared the ministry for the time when he would not be with us. He recorded several announcements to be aired after his death. It seems fitting to close this celebratory article with one of the prayers he recorded at that time, as it is still as appropriate today as it was 25 years ago:
Gracious Father God, we do pray for this ministry. We pray for the spreading of the Word of God today and we pray that it is still uppermost in those who produce this program and those who listen, that it might be the whole Word for the whole world. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.