Media House International (1993-1996)
In 1992, the president of a small missionary organization who was a friend of Bob Weiner’s, recruited me to be their international director in the Orlando area. The written agreement was that I would be on salary, but I could spend one-third of my time on The Forerunner while helping start publications in Russia and Ukraine. Although I had some reservations on how this would work, I decided to try it. To make a long story short, it did not work out well. This time was difficult for me personally, but the arrangement helped the ministry to prosper during that time. Today, I see it as the sovereignty of God in moving me out of Gainesville on to another place. Shortly after this, I took my third trip to Russia and Ukraine. I felt on my return that God had given me a vision to start Media House International and to begin Christian “Media Houses” in all the major continents of the world.
I already had been in contact with Keith Tucci, director of Operation Rescue National, first by writing about pro-life prayer events and finally spending a week in jail with him and some other local pro-life leaders in April 1993 at a peaceful pro-life prayer event in Melbourne, Florida. As I wrote, I first got involved in Operation Rescue on December 31st, 1989. I had been invited to join The Forerunner on December 27th, receiving the letter on January 6th. The two events looked unrelated, but they were not coincidental. I saw Operation Rescue and pro-life activism as an integral event in my calling to ministry. I saw that the move to Melbourne made sense. Bob Weiner agreed with me that soon after I joined Pastor Keith Tucci’s church, that the American version of The Forerunner would cease and I ought to concentrate for a time on international versions and missionary work.
There were a lot of providential circumstances that kept me going in the founding of Media House International. I once had a sum of money from several unexpected sources show up during a one-month period, which enabled me to buy a house directly across the street from the abortion clinic in Melbourne where a lot of pro-life activism was occurring at that time. There were a lot of providential events like this. I could see the hand of God in my venture as though I was being carried along. I was now working independently with little oversight.
Unfortunately, Melbourne was not the utopia I imagined it might be. When I moved into the “Green House” (as it was called) across the street from the Aware Woman abortion clinic in 1993, I was surrounded by people who thought only about pro-life ministry and not much beyond that. I felt that there was now a disparity between where I had been, where I wanted to go, and how other people saw me. I think most people saw me as an unemployed person who published a fundraising newsletter. I experienced a small identity crisis. I was used to being respected by well-known Christian leaders. Ironically, I became one of the most consistent pro-lifers in Melbourne in the next seven years, although the perception of me as an outsider took a while to diminish. Eventually, the owners of the abortion clinic across the street came to view me as one of the ring leaders when they unsuccessfully sued us a few years later.
In fact, this was my most successful period of ministry up to that time. From 1994 to 1996, I took three missions trips to Russia and Ukraine and one to Costa Rica and Peru; I bought the Green House; I began the Forerunner.com website; I published one edition each of The Champion and The Forerunner International; I published six issues of The Mandate including one in the Chinese language; I published one issue of El Campeón that was distributed in Costa Rica, Peru and Cuba; I distributed over 400,000 copies of Predvestnik and other publications in the former USSR; I got arrested for the fifth time in a pro-life “Rescue-type” event; I helped lead a cell group with former Maranatha (UTK) student leader Jeff Dwiggins; and as they say, much, much more!
Then in 1996, everything began to wind down. I suddenly had less money and I started to work as a banquet server part-time at the Hilton at Melbourne Beach. This is also a time period when several of my friends began to leave our church citing the same problems that I had seen before in other churches. I met with my pastor and explained that although I did not personally have any problems with him, it was not God’s will to raise me up in a ministry as a member of that church. The split was amicable, although he disagreed. I didn’t plug into another church for the next year or so. Much of the activity at the Aware Woman abortion clinic began to taper off after the state of Florida announced plans to bulldoze the abortion clinic under eminent domain to widen U.S. Highway 1. I liked that outcome because no pro-life activist could take credit for the victory, although the former owners blamed us for cutting their business in half. Today no abortion clinic operates in that entire county.
I took one more missions trip to the Netherlands and Ukraine, but it was a low point for me as far as vision and energy. I began to think more about being married and having a family. But I had little material security except a run-down house to show for all my hard work. I have always been an independent person. I am a native Bostonian whose self-reliant philosophy deterred me from Christ for my entire youth even though I have always been aware of God’s calling on my life. Even today, I believe that I simply need to be certain of God’s will and then throw myself into His purpose and destiny. I believe that everything that has happened with me is by God’s grace. All things work together for good and He is correcting me all along the way.
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