News From The Ranch – October 1998

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

The Ranch goes live, a financial update, and “Does God have anything to say about the Internet in the Bible?”

The screen people see on their computers when they watch "Live from The Ranch"

The screen people see on their computers when they watch “Live from The Ranch”

The Ranch Goes Live

You can now watch CNN live on the Internet. And ABC News. And Fox News.

But last month we added another choice to what people can watch on the Internet: “Live from The Ranch,” a weekly program designed to encourage people in their faith.

To me, this is the capstone of our Internet ministry. It is one of the most technologically complex features of our site. But it could also have the greatest impact.

I was thrilled to do our first broadcast. Even though it only went to a handful of people, those handful were over a thousand miles away. Using a simple phone line and a computer, they were able to hear a message of faith in Christ.

When I think of how this can multiply to other people with phone lines and computers around the world, it boggles my mind.

My previous web site, The Hall of Faith, drew over 800 hundred people a month from 72 countries simply to read stories of how God works in people’s lives. I try to imagine what kind of impact a live broadcast might have.

And the momentum for sharing Christ on the Internet is growing.

Our ministry was highlighted this month in a nationwide magazine called Ministries Today, along with some other ministries who are “taking the gospel to the web.” Our work was also discussed in a book called The Online Christian, which has a chapter on Internet evangelism.

Although we’re considered pioneers in this technology, we’re not alone.

Billy Graham, for instance, will mark another first for his ministry on October 24th when he broadcasts his Florida crusade live on the Internet. In a recent sermon, Mr. Graham said: “It is amazing how technology is being used to hurt the world. But it is also being used to spread the gospel on a scale that has never happened in the history of the Christian church.”

The pope, too, just began broadcasting his weekly prayers from the Vatican live on the Internet using the same technology.

Many have wondered if these kinds of events signal the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Whether he comes now or waits longer, it’s clear to me that God is using every available means to save as many people as possible before the end comes. For those who don’t yet know him, that’s great news.

You can watch our live broadcasts at www.theranch.org. We broadcast live on Sunday nights at 9pm Central Time. After the broadcast, you can join us in our chat room at The Ranch. The chat room is where we can talk with people in a more personal way, and pray with those who need additional encouragement in their faith.

If you miss the live broadcast, the messages are stored on our web site for viewing around the clock – and around the world.

Financial Update

Some of you have asked how we’re doing financially, so here’s an update.

Our budget for the ministry this year is $5,300 per month. Since our incorporation in March of this year, we’ve received commitments from people to cover about 20% of our monthly needs.

Thanks to several one-time gifts, we’ve been able to make up most of the 80% difference each month.

God has affirmed to me that he will cover the costs of this ministry, but I know that he often does this by moving on the hearts of his people. So I’m glad to share our needs with you. If you’re not already committed to this effort in prayer or financially, would you take a few minutes to ask the Lord if he wants you to be involved?

As you can see, we still need both one-time gifts and monthly commitments to operate at 100% of what God has called us to do.

Bringing Faith to Life

Does God have anything to say about the Internet in the Bible? I was surprised to find out he does when I was praying recently about this ministry.

I was reading through the book of Job this month and was up to chapter 8. I was having technical difficulties with parts of my web site, and was eager to get to work on them, not sit still and read Job for a few minutes. But I decided to open the Bible and this is what I read:

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.” (Job 8:13-15)

That sure sounded like my web site that day! Fragile, giving way, and not holding! God reminded me that my trust is in Him, not in the “web,” even though he’s called me to an Internet ministry. Some of the problems got fixed that day and some didn’t. But I had confidence that God was in control because he spoke to me using words written over 3,000 years ago.

It didn’t end there. The next Sunday I was guest-preaching at a local church. I had brought my computer equipment to see if we could do a live broadcast from their church.

Half way through the message I began to say, “The technology’s now at a point where we can broadcast live messages on the Internet.” But before I finished the sentence, the phone line disconnected and our broadcast stopped. I saw the screen go down but I kept on preaching. At the end of the service, six people in the room prayed to receive Christ.

I was thrilled at their decisions, but I was also reminded of what I learned earlier in the week. Even when the technology fails, God doesn’t. Even when everything around us falls apart, God won’t. Even when our web gives way, God remains rock solid.

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Hallelujah! Now that’s something we can hold onto.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for continuing to work even when the technology doesn’t,
  • for getting us to the point where we can broadcast your message live on the Internet,
  • and for sustaining us each month.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for these broadcasts to have a deep and lasting impact on those who watch them,
  • for additional monthly supporters,
  • and for people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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