Taste and See that the Lord is Good!

The Beginnings of Great News Radio…as adapted from the Station Manager’s perspective and experience.

The Bible is full of accounts concerning meals and banquets, and we know that the Lord loves the pleasing aromas of good food and warm fellowship. God’s Word says, “taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8) Mark Burns has tasted and has seen how good the Lord is: let’s take a peek back in time to see how God created the ministry of Great News Radio.

I think that if God had a kitchen, He’d have wonderful cookbooks filled with incredible recipes. And I would also have to say, that in the “Main Dish Section,” one might find a rather peculiar recipe that would read something like this: take 1 grocery store manager; stir in lots of God’s Word and lots of God’s people and smother this mixture with thousands of prayers. Set mixture aside for a few years to develop and rise, and on Easter Sunday the dish may be served to the folks and families of east-central Illinois.

To tell you the truth, it sounds like an unusual recipe– one that might not look too good at first glance. But we have learned that God is a Master Chef at what He does. Here’s an account of the dish God cooked up so that now, it is served 24 hours a day to thousands of people.

Some years ago, the grocery store manager was ready to serve the Lord as a manager of volunteers for the Urbana 93 Missions Convention. He loved it, and thought then that life just couldn’t get any more delicious than this. But God, the master chef, had more to add to the dish which He had begun.

At his Friday night Church Covenant Group, the manager heard a request by a family named Dunn to pray for a Moody Affiliate Radio station for the area. The man was good-natured enough to pray, even though he thought the request was a little grandiose and a tad bit odd. Another Friday night came, and again the request was made. Then one day, the family named Dunn requested that the manager might consider running the proposed Moody station for which they had been praying. The manager thought “Now that’s a horse of a different color!” and began to seek God with more of his heart on this matter. Not only that, but he went straight to the Moody Bible Institute to talk with the Vice President of Broadcasting, and this Vice President was intrigued.

Meanwhile, and unbeknownst to most, a family living in Florida named VanZandt was busy with applications for a new Moody affiliate station in east-central Illinois. On a cold day in January 1994, the families Dunn and VanZandt met with the manager over Chinese food in Washington DC, and there, the prayers of all were answered. The radio project for east-central Illinois was on and ready to take shape. The family VanZandt would do the technical start-up work and provide the initial capital, and the manager (with help from others) would do the rest.

God stirred in more people, and more prayers. Taking a country drive with his Dairy Queen blizzards, the manager went out to search the skyline for towers. He knew that towers are extremely expensive and that space on them is rare because they are in such high demand. Well, he found what he thought would be the perfect tower in Fisher, Illinois. Approaching the neighboring farmer, the manager asked if he knew who owned the tower. The farmer thought it was Illinois Power out of Paxton. The manager filed away the information in his brain. The very next morning, the phone was ringing off the hook for the manager who was at that time managing a Promise Keepers outing for 500 men. The last call the manager decided to take before calling it quits was from a man who wanted tickets. At this point, there were no PK tickets left, but the manager decided to take the man’s name and information anyway. “Where are you from, Bob,” he asked. “Paxton,” came the reply. “Huh,” thought the manager. He decided to ask the long-shot question: “Hey, do you know anyone from Illinois Power out of Paxton?” “Why?'” Bob asked. The manager told him of the tower. Bob hesitated, then said, “Illinois Power doesn’t own that tower, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative does, and I used to be the Chairman of the Board!” Great News Radio now leases this tower and tower building, at a most wonderfully economical rate…

God stirred in more people and more prayers. A Gibson City tower man named Rhodes directed his capable crew high in the heavens to safely add 87 feet to the Fisher tower, then, knocked thousands of dollars off the bill.

God kept folding more of His people into the mixture. During this time, prayer became even more key.  This led to a special request to friends that read: Please receive this letter in the Spirit of God. The correspondence asked if the couple might be willing to loan any portion of the $100,000 the radio ministry would have to find by April 7th to help be established. The wait began. The prayers increased. Then came the phone call. “How about if we wire you $80,000 tomorrow, and $20,000 next week. Does that sound good?” WOW! After prayer, and talking, and asking questions, this couple felt totally stretched to provide these funds, but felt led of God to loan this capital, for 2 years, with no interest.

God kept stirring His people into His dish, and it was starting to get more delicious by the minute. Founding Partners began approaching the manager, asking if the ministry needed more capital for the project. Money began coming in, some in chunks of 5,000 dollars, with others making payments over the next few years. Precious others began to give financial gifts, without fail, each and every month– in quantities of five or ten or twenty-five dollars. The radio mixture was becoming enriched with the financial offerings of the saints. In addition to these benefactors, memorial gifts were received, making it possible for God’s work to continue here on earth, even though some of His saints had reached their homes in heaven. God directed other people to join the mix by volunteering with their time and abilities. The volunteers built, answered phones, filled and made Tootsie Pop boxes, collated newsletters, made phone calls, encouraged others, and above and beyond all that, prayed.

The mixture was becoming a full-blown ministry, and then the day everyone had been waiting for, became a reality. On Easter Sunday, April 7th, 1996, the ministry was heard over the farmlands, prairies, and towns of east-central Illinois through the airwaves of 102.5 FM. God had done it. He did it in His own way, in His own time, with His own methods, and with the prayers, labor and love of His saints. He did it against all odds, and against all logic. He did it magnificently and with great flair. His recipe was a success, and now the people He loves can turn their radios on for themselves to “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

This radio recipe that God has cooked up is served to thousands, and they have loved it. The manager and staff have heard hundreds of stories first-hand of how the people have been taking in God’s dish called WGNN, Great News Radio.

A woman from Elliott called to proclaim her gratitude, because her church closed its doors for the last time on Easter Sunday, and just as it did, God opened the window with the Great News of Christ on WGNN. A professional gentleman who moved here from India, has been partaking of this spiritual food and it is providing spiritual nutrition for him in his new country. The children have been feasting on godly refreshment on Saturdays, stopping from their play to sing songs they know and to hear stories of their Lord Jesus. God’s most beloved widows from places like Champaign, Arthur, Rantoul and Cissna Park can make it through the long nights with comforting and loving nourishment from the scriptures and music. A Farmer City truck driver stumbled upon God’s gift of Great News Radio, took notice, and recommitted his life to following the Savior. Over in Saybrook, a farmer harvesting his crops, called from his combine to pledge a financial gift to the Lord, for the Lord had given him so much through radio. A grandmother in Fisher who can’t get out much, raises her hands in praise, because she now has the radio, reminding her of God’s constant love and companionship. Lots of car-poolers from Danville to Decatur listen to God’s Great News in their travels to and from school and work , starting the day off with a taste of God’s Word. And, God is serving this special dish to those who seek the goodness and wholesomeness that will make them clean, and that will allow them to come into the light. These are the special ones. The prayers of the saints waft up through the heavens to God– the saints want all to join in the banquet so that not one would be missing, so that all could taste and see that the Lord is good.

With this radio recipe, there’s always enough to go around, and most everyone who partakes of it wants more. It is a meal for the soul, and it is nourishing and wholesome and delicious. Yes, taste and see that the Lord is good.

We welcome you to Great News Radio, WGNN 102.5, 103.9, 97.1  FM and WGNJ 89.3 FM. It is a joy to serve you through radio! May God bless you as you partake of Him.