Celebrating 40 Years of International Ministry
by TTB International Director & C.O.O., Gregg Harris
A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, said, “God is preparing His heroes still, so that when the opportunity comes He can fit them into their places in a moment while the world wonders where they came from.”
In 1973, two of God’s heroes had a meeting that would change the lives of millions around the world. Dr. Paul Freed, founder of TWR, was at the Church of the Open Door for a missions conference hosted by Dr. McGee. Paul Freed challenged Dr. McGee to take his successful daily Thru the Bible radio program into the Spanish language. At first, Dr. McGee was skeptical of the value of such an undertaking. He questioned the effectiveness of radio for international outreach. But Dr. Freed’s passion persuaded him to accept the proposal, and the worldwide ministry of TTB was born!
The first Spanish broadcast of Thru the Bible was aired 40 years ago this month, and we want to give God the praise and glory for the millions who have been reached over the past four decades as a result of this simple but profound commitment. When Dr. McGee saw the impact of the Spanish broadcasts, he quickly developed a serious commitment to taking God’s Word to the whole world.
Three years after the first Spanish broadcast, the program was already being translated in eight different languages. It was around that time that Dr. McGee wrote, “It may be possible to get the Word of God into every major language during the next few years. As far as we know, Thru the Bible Radio is the only systematic study of the entire Bible that is making a serious effort to accomplish this purpose.” You can see how quickly the international ministry was growing and how committed Dr. McGee was to reaching the whole world with God’s Word.
Just five years after that, in 1981, he wrote, “Ours has become a missionary program. I never dreamed that we would be reaching the majority of the world population which can hear the Word of God only by radio.” In less than a decade, Dr. McGee had gone from skeptic to strategist! It was during this period that he developed the mission statement that would guide TTB for decades after his death: Take the whole Word to the whole world.
Just a few weeks before his homegoing in December 1988, Dr. McGee wrote these words in a letter to TTB supporters:
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! And when I think of everyone who has so faithfully and sacrificially given in order to make this possible, I am overwhelmed. Let’s just praise the Lord together. This is His work, and you are one of His faithful workmen who has responded to the words, “The field is ripe unto harvest.” We are laborers together, and the harvest is good.
The growth of a worldwide ministry and the passionate vision of our founder for taking God’s Word to the ends of the earth happened in only 15 years! That in itself is extraordinary, but perhaps even more amazing is the fact that the ministry continued to grow after Dr. McGee’s death. In fact, today the number of international language ministries of Thru the Bible has tripled since 1988.
Not only has the international ministry grown in the number of languages, but the variety of ways people are receiving the teaching of TTB has exploded. While radio remains the foundation of our global outreach, thousands around the world receive Dr. McGee’s teaching via the Internet, podcasting, portable digital players, memory chips, speaker boxes, mobile phones, apps and now even satellite TV!
As we look to the future, we see God opening doors of opportunity that will allow us to continue to obey the command of our Lord Jesus in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Listen to Gregg Harris and TTB host Steve Shwetz talk more about God's provision and leadership over our 40 years of international ministry.
Hear an interview with TTB's Spanish producer, Samuel Montoya, recorded on the 40th anniversary of our first Spanish broadcast.