’Straight Talk ‘ Television
Jim Wiltshire, Plymouth, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
– an outreach for our times (Sky TV Channel 160)
What do you mean by ‘Straight Talk?
As a gospel outreach for this generation ‘Straight Talk’ is designed to be just what it says. What is needed for a society that has increasingly and deliberately turned away its face from God, ignored His commandments and requirements and the message of the cross of Christ, is some ‘straight talking’.
Fine, I hear you say, but how do you intend to do it? My answer is based upon the following four simple deductions.
1. There is the need for the Lord’s people to preach. Preaching is, the divinely appointed way to reach men. God has chosen this personal means of communication as His preferred way, 1 Cor. 1. 21.
2. There is the need for us to reach people where they are. People don’t come into places of worship much these days so the need is to go to them. This is what our forefathers did when they went into the open-air, preaching in the streets and on the village greens.
3. To reach the people today there needs to be a new vehicle to convey the same message. This must be in a way that they will at least listen to it. To me this new way was television.
4. There is the need to rely upon the same risen Christ to save lost men. Whatever means we use, the message can only be fruitful if God does the work of saving. Salvation is, and always will be, ‘of the Lord’.
The realization of a cherished vision
We can now thankfully say that ‘Straight Talk Television’ is not just ‘pie-in-the-sky’ vision of what might be but it is a reality. In fact we began broadcasting over a year ago. Through the fellowship of many Christians and the commitment of the assembly meeting at Wolseley Road Gospel Hall, Plymouth, studios and equipment have come together so that we can make the units with which to present the gospel through television broadcasting.
What forms do the programmes take?
The programme is entitled ‘Straight Talk’. It is a ‘no-frills’ production that simply sites the preacher facing the cameras sitting ensconced in a black leather chair, hard lit, much in the ‘Mastermind’ style, and situated in a black surround studio. Since the issues are ‘life and death’ the black and white look seemed appropriate. Practically this also prevents distractions. The content and approach is intense gospel preaching, losing nothing to chitchat or video clip infill. The weekly programme runs for only 5 minutes and is screened on the Sky Television Network twice in the week on Saturdays at 8.30 a.m. and 9.30 a.m.
How did all this begin?
As I recollect this vision for outreach I feel had its birthplace in two very personal and yet unforgettable experiences of mine. The first is my experience as a boy at South Park Chapel, Ilford, and a second long-standing interest in television production. As a boy, in the summer, I, with other members of the assembly, would get out our bikes and pedal off around the Essex villages to give out tracts and hold open-air meetings on the village greens. It is with joy that I remember that my parents were saved in an open-air meeting, as was later my sister and, still later, my daughter. These early activities in gospel outreach planted a never dying hunger in my heart to reach out to my fellows and tell them ‘Jesus saves’.
My interest in television production came as a result of teaching in London that gave me access to the BBC Television Centre, where I spent time watching programme production. The fascination of this embedded itself in my mind and I then felt that one day I could do the same.
There is often a long journey between starting and arrival
But does this synthesis of two experiences add up to a ‘Call of the Lord’ to do this unusual work? I have learnt that the Lord’s call is usually gradual and yet persistent. It also has to be backed up by confirmations that other people can recognize. Above all, it is irresistible.
But a ‘calling’ of itself cannot turn a teacher into a television programme producer. There is a whole trade to learn here. Impatiently I envisaged that learning it began with lessons in ‘filmmaking’ but in the Lord’s work it begins with lessons in ‘faith’. The flesh rebelled and I wanted to get started with cameras and things, even though I didn’t yet know what to do with them! The last thing I felt I wanted was to learn the hard lessons of trust in God.
The lessons in ‘trust’ began excitingly enough by a trip to America. I did have the thought impetuously, that God was sending me to Hollywood to work with the ‘Greats’ of the film industry. I was wrong! The trip, it turned out, had little to do with my artistic and technical education. It clearly was about ‘How God was going to enable me to conduct interviews for broadcasting on television even though I had neither the experience nor the equipment to make such a thing possible!’ How could I explain to the people in America what I wanted them to teach me, yet, embarrassingly, I had nothing back in the UK to actually do it? The whole thing was going to be one big joke.
The dilemma could have been solved if I’d followed by own jittering inclinations to throw up my hands in defeat, cancel the trip and go back to school. But persistence and faith will overcome the visible and in some way stumblingly touch the Invisible God. So I did go and returned a week later with a specially purchased suitcase bursting with professionally shot, broadcasting-level footage of the interviews that I had made. Miraculous! God had gone before. The amazing thing that I had learnt on the trip was that when the time came to fulfill this outreach vision I would certainly need professional help. Having grasped this I knew that it was the ultimate reason why the Lord had sent me there.
Waiting on God has not been a waste of time
Fifteen years have passed since that experience. The lessons learnt were so needful. The work that has been accomplished over the last year has the foundation under it that was laid then. That which began by faith is being carried on in the same way – by faith. We are now many programmes on in our efforts to reach out through this medium. The Lord has met the many costs involved, provided the professional backup, and who knows how many have heard the gospel and having heard have believed? Please visit our website at www.sttv.co.uk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more.