10-01-2019 CBN News Abigail Robertson
Throughout the past 58 years, God has blessed the Christian Broadcasting Network immensely – but at the beginning, the future wasn’t always so certain. Abigail Robertson recently spoke to CBN’s founder Pat Robertson and President Gordon Robertson to discuss what they’ve learned from their years in ministry and what’s in store for CBN in the future.
“You expect big things from him and he will give you big things,” Pat told Abigail.
That has certainly been the case for Pat, but growing up, he didn’t appear destined for a life of ministry.
“I had done the party scene, I had done everything you could do, but I wasn’t happy and I-I needed the Lord and I decided that the time had come and I needed to serve Him,” he continued.
A young entrepreneur living in New York with a Yale law degree, Pat dreamed of making a lot of money one day.
“Well, it was a sort of a shock that went on in my life, but I had a radical transformation and I just somehow, you know, Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless ’til they rest in thee.” and I wasn’t satisfied,” he explained.
That transformation led Pat to dedicate his life to the Lord’s work, sell his possessions and eventually move his family from New York back home to Virginia.
“Well, it was hard. And I think most people don’t understand that when you look at how big CBN has grown,” Pat’s son Gordon says of the first decade of ministry. “So in that, it took me a long time to figure out why. Why – why would you leave everything? Why would you devote your life to a vision and it took me a long time to get it. But when I finally got it, I understood.”
Through favor and divine guidance, Pat acquired an old television station – and kept pursuing the big dreams God put on his heart.
“Well, from the very early days I had big visions. I wanted a network. I didn’t want just one station. But you’re right, I – when we first signed on it was on a Sunday afternoon and our engineer didn’t think we could make it. The engineer said, “There’s no way you’re going to put this thing on the air,” recalled Pat. “I said, “We’ve already announced it’s going on October the First.” And so he said, “Well, I’ll do what I can.” And I said, “Well, you get me on the air.” – It was late but we got on the air.”
How The 700 Club Got Its Name
And so began what is now known as The 700 Club – one of the longest running television shows of all time.
“So initially The 700 Club started because Dad said, “Well, my budget, my monthly budget to run all of CBN was 7,000 a month. I need 700 people to agree to give $10 a month. And if we can do that, we can make our budget,” explained Gordon.
“You know, but again, the Bible says, “don’t despise the small beginnings” and we began very, very, very small,” added Pat.
More Ministry Opportunities, All Built on a Foundation of Faith and Prayer
God later led Pat to start organizations like Operation Blessing, Regent University, and the American Center for Law and Justice. And when asked why Pat believes God chose him to lead these ministries, he responds:
“Well, I, you know, you can ask that, I mean, He told one time that there were a whole lot of people better than I was but I was the one trained to do this,” says Pat.
Each organization is built on a foundation of faith and prayer. Pat says for the first seven years the staff would pray every day at noon for revival to fall on the Tidewater region.
“And there was an anointing of God that fell in an extraordinary way all over this area. People were being healed, people were being touched by the spirit of God and that was the beginning,” he recalls. “As a matter of fact, I had a call from the newspaper said, “Well, what’s happening over there? Is this the Second Coming of Christ?” And I said, “No, this is – this is a revival. This isn’t the Second Coming.”
And he believes there is spiritual significance to where God planted the ministry.
“Well, this is the place where this country started. It started down at Cape Henry, Virginia when the first English settlers landed on this continent,” explains Pat. “And they planted a cross in the ground and they claimed this land for Jesus Christ.”
To this day, CBN still holds a noon prayer chapel for its staff.
“I have a motto if you can use that, or a guiding principle “All the good stuff I give God credit for, whatever’s good I give him credit. He did it, I didn’t do it. All the screw ups are my fault and I’ll take the blame. With that you’ve got no problem,” says Pat.
Even though keeping the ministry running hasn’t always been easy, Pat says he always trusted the Lord would provide.
God Never Fails
“I’ve been made fun of; I have been reviled. When I ran for president the abuse that I received was just unbelievable,” he recalls. “I won’t go into all that now, but nevertheless you have to develop sort of a thick skin, but it hadn’t been easy, but at the same time, God has never failed. Never, ever, ever has he failed me.”
That faithfulness is what Gordon is leaning into as he carries the ministry into the future.
“The challenges are always there,” says Gordon.
While Gordon says the cost of running the now worldwide ministry has increased exponentially, one thing has never changed.
“Our dependence upon God has remained the same, and God’s faithfulness has remained the same,” he says.
Facing the Challenges of the Future
Right now, the challenge in media is shifting from cable being the dominant source of streaming to the Internet.
“Here’s a stat most people don’t know; 55% of all video viewed on the Internet is on YouTube,” he explains. “And so how do we do that? How do we solve that algorithm, how do we buy placement on those – on those platforms? And when people are searching, be able to give them, “Well, here’s what the Bible has to say about this.”
But this platform that connects the world brings the ministry that much closer to living out the Great Commission.
“We want to find a way that is going to reach the most people with the message. This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness,” says Gordon. “That is a single verse from my father, he put it on a brass plaque in front of the building, and it motivates everything we do.”
“I think there’s a move of God that’s getting very close in Israel and I think the idea of the full evangelization of the world is very close at hand,” added Pat. “And I think the Bible indicates that there’ll be a tremendous revival of God’s power before the Second Coming of Christ. So we’re not too far away from it.”
And as God writes this new chapter for CBN – Gordon is standing on this promise from the Lord.
“The word right now is “The jigsaw puzzle pieces are going to come together this year,” and all the questions I’m having about, you know, how do we go into the media, what are the – what’s-what’s the path forward?” asks Gordon. “And the promise is the jigsaw puzzle pieces are going to come together and I’m going to see it.”