These conditions, however, were discussed only incidentally, as the background for the one message to which every Lutheran Hour address has been dedicated: the free, completed, assured Gospel of Jesus Christ, the divine Redeemer. Every time I stepped before the microphone, I was prayerfully conscious that multitudes would doubtless be tuned in who were unacquainted with the clear promises of the atonement through the Savior, and I felt it a sacred duty to show the way of salvation in each message, to explain how to explain how for every problem the penitent, trusting soul can find courage in Christ.
It has never been popular to preach the Law in its severity and the Gospel in its divine comfort; yet, through the undeserved grace of God the eighth Lutheran Hour brought a greater response than ever before. About 200,000 individual letter and postal cards were received at the headquarters and in my office—as high as 13,000 in a single week, more than 5,000 in one day! These communications came from practically all the religious groups in our country and from varied social strata. Correspondence from State governors, members of Congress, mayors of cities, college presidents, authors, shows the ever-widening influence of our mission. Most gratifying was the extensive tribute from the labor group. Particularly welcome was information like this, “We are passing the word in our factories at Toledo that your broadcast is the one radio message that is genuinely interested in the working classes.”
Criticism of the Lutheran Hour was, of course, not missing, although the number of dissenting letters, including the anonymous communications, was smaller than one tenth of 1 per cent of the total.
The radio mail also reveals increasing support from Christians who love the Scripture but are distracted either by the modernist tendencies of their pastors or the overemphasis laid on various and contradictory theories of unfulfilled prophecies. The growing tendency in many Fundamentalist circles to find the present conflict forecast in detail by the Scriptures, and the frequent incorrect identification of Biblical personages and localities, have sometimes shifted interest from the atoning Christ to speculations in millenarian conjectures.
Several vital lessons can be learned from the remarkable God-granted results of this radio mission. First of all, our experiences astonishingly illustrate God’s power. In 1935, when we returned to the air, we had only two stations: WXYZ in Detroit and WLW in Cincinnati. No human ability or ingenuity could increase the number of stations to 300 within six short years. Whenever people search for twentieth-century evidence of answered prayer, let them behold the Lutheran Hour and say, “How marvelously God has sent His promised help!”
In the second place, our broadcasting shows that sermons centering in the crucified Savior still have the promise of divine blessing. No matter how completely international scenes may be shifted, the personal soul-questions remain; and nothing men have ever devised can bring the comfort to be found by faith in the Savior’s cleansing blood, atoning grace, and life-giving death. Let pastors and laymen who wonder whether the old Gospel has lost its appeal look to our broadcast and understand from this nation-wide demonstration that the one message which has the assurance of blessing is the good news of a Savior slain for the sins of an evil world!
This Mission of the Air proves the value of radio as a Gospel-proclaiming agency. For the first time during a period of national conscription the message of salvation has been brought into military, naval, and air-training camps by means of the radio. Almost every national cantonment was within the range of our radio, and replies from selectees were numerous. Sailors on ships and submarines were also listed among our correspondents. Once again listeners in remote and inaccessible regions were served. Hundreds of hospitals, sanatoria, homes for the incurables, orphanages, asylums, institution of public and private charity, regularly received our message. We were particularly gratified that many cooperative wardens each week made our broadcasts available to the prisoners under their care.
Outstanding during the eighth Lutheran Hour has been the remarkable extension of our foreign broadcasting. On April 30 a total of 64 foreign broadcasting stations were in use or had been pledged to join our system as soon as suitable arrangements could be made: in Bolivia, 3; Chile 5; China 1; Colombia, 6; Costa Rica, 2; Cuba, 11; Ecuador, 4; Mexico, 10; Nicaragua, 2; Panama, 5; Paraguay, 1; Philippine Islands, 1; Puerto Rico, 6; Santo Domingo, 4; Uruguay, 3; Hawaii, 1.
From this tabulation it will be noted that we have outlets in Mexico. The government regulations banning religious programs from the air have been officially interpreted, at least in some districts, as permitting the broadcast of our evangel. We pray for a steady addition in Mexican facilities. Border stations in Texas have proved helpful in bringing Christ to the other side of the Rio Grande.
We are blessed in having the generous cooperation of many Latin-American station-owners. In South America our field continually widens. Short wave stations on this hemisphere like HCJB at Quito, Ecuador, one of the first to carry our message, give the Gospel remarkable coverage. Stations KZRM in Manila, KGMB in Honolulu, XMHA in Shanghai, KFQD in Anchorage, Alaska, spread the message through Eastern Asia and adjacent territories.
As unprecedented as our foreign work has been, the task of exploring the entire field has hardly begun. Tremendous possibilities of expansion await us, and with divine guidance and the help of those who realize the radio’s importance in fulfilling the Savior’s command, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” we hope eventually to have an all-year, world-wide broadcasting system, which in dozens of languages will bring the comfort and courage to be found in the crucified Savior even to the most remote regions.
Some may questions, however, whether foreign language broadcasting pays. Although our work is still new, we have already received marked evidence of divine blessing. Our missionary in Mexico City, the Rev. C.A. Lazos, writes: “As a result of the broadcasts from Quito, Ecuador, General—and his entire family are now taking catechetical instructions with me.” The Director of Missions for the Spanish-speaking people, the Rev. W.H. Bewie, informs us that so many Mexican people wrote the Laredo, Tex., radio office to express their appreciation for the Lutheran Hour that as a direct result of our program a new mission is to be started here. Our missionary executive secretary, the Rev. O.H. Schlmidt, who personally visited the Philippine Islands, has spoken enthusiastically to encourage our foreign endeavors. A young man from Manila writes to inquire concerning the possibility of his being baptized. Negotiations are under way with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek in the hope that we may broadcast Chinese messages over stations in the unoccupied territory of these undaunted people. One mail from a Dominican Republic station brought 182 touching letters of gratitude for the Savior’s Gospel. Even before our radio system is fully organized in South America, we see the unmistakable imprint of the Spirit’s power.
It should, however, not be our first purpose to ask for calculable results. The blessing comes only from God. Ours is the duty and privilege to preach the Gospel with all the power we can. How we ought to rejoice that by the means of the radio we have been permitted to reach masses in countries in which our Church has never had a missionary! Think of it, our message of the crucified Savior is being heard for the first time from stations in Cuba, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, the Philippine Islands! Through transmitters in these and other countries our Gospel is also being brought to unnumbered villages and town in Indo-China, Malaya, India, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Alaska, otherwise untouched by our missionary messengers.
Difficulties, of course, arise in certain localities owing to local religious prejudice. Every Sunday afternoon one of our stations in Nicaragua broadcasts the Spanish Lutheran Hour from the city plaza. The response was so wide that the Catholic churches attacked the broadcast in their newspapers and after Mass officially requested their people not to tune to our program. Despite such antagonism the number of listeners in Nicaragua has steadily increased.
When the war is over and the new social order begins, we must be ready to enter more fields, notably in Europe and Africa. Remarkable short-wave facilities have already been promised us, by which we can reach many more millions in various sections of the world. Pray, work, give, so that the everlasting Gospel may be brought to all the nations as the radio may serve to introduce our missionaries and make their task easier!
Next to divine blessing, richly showered upon us, we owe the success of the Lutheran Hour to the whole-hearted support from listeners in all stations of life and in every Christian denomination. Almost $100,000 was contributed directly by the members of the audience; the rest of the amount required to meet broadcasting expenses, approximately $90,000, was received indirectly through congregational contributions, pledges, and solicitations. These gifts of Christian love ranged from a few pennies offered by children or by those who eagerly shared their meager funds, to $700, the largest single contribution, sent by a Wisconsin nurse in addition to other substantial assistance. The average mail donation was less than one dollar, and the Lutheran Hour, without special support from any financial leaders, is thus a definitely popular program, endorsed by increasing masses of the common people.
A large part of our support comes from listeners outside our Church. They have recognized in the principles which this broadcast emphasizes a restatement of Biblical Christianity and have therefore been eager to aid the spread of our message. They have not only sent their love offerings regularly, but have also actively publicized the radio mission, distributing Lutheran Hour announcements, inviting the unchurched, either by telephone or persona visit, to tune in each Sunday afternoon. Gratifying results have been recorded through such testimony.
Powerful in their effect and blessing have been the prayers directed to the Throne of Mercy in behalf of this Mission of the Air. Not hundreds, but literally thousands have written us that their petitions regularly wing their way to God; and we know that their pleading has enjoyed the reality of answer. More than ever before this Bringing-Christ-to-the Nations endeavor needs fervent, effectual intercession of Christians throughout the world. As our broadcasting system grows, the forces of darkness will strengthen their opposition. Our counter resistance must be fortified through Christian intercession!
We owe much to the patient, week-by-week help of our pastors and teachers. By their regular parish and newspaper announcement of the broadcast, their repeated endorsement of this endeavor, they have done much to strengthen our cause. To them, as also to the pastors outside our communion who have worked untiringly for the Lutheran Hour, we say, “Thank you, and God bless you!”
A radio undertaking as large as ours can be maintained, under God, only by organized supervision. Wide recognition should therefore be given the Lutheran Laymen’s League for sponsoring this mission., How noteworthy that from its very beginning this mighty broadcast has been a laymen’s movement! For their friendship, encouragement, and counsel I an indebted to all the officers of this organization, particularly to Mr. T.G. Eggers, executive secretary; Pastor Herman Gockel, assistant executive secretary; Mr. Martin Daib, field secretary; and Mr. Oscar Brauer, chairman of the radio committee.
At the height of the broadcasting season thirty-five full-time workers were required to answer our correspondence. In addition, a group of volunteers, member of the Lutheran Woman’s League, Evening Division, regularly gave their assistance without compensation.
For six seasons Mr. Reinhold Janetzke has announced the Lutheran Hour, serving without any salary. His help has been invaluable. The hymns on the program (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” at the opening and “Beautiful Savior” at the close of each broadcast, with additional selections before and after the message) were sung by the Lutheran Hour Chorus of Concordia Seminary, directed by Mr. Ronald Ross. The Markus Male Chorus, under the direction of Mr. Alvin Burmeister, also furnished the musical framework for a half dozen programs.
Not only were the facilities of Station KFUO, the Gospel Voice, always at our disposal, but the technical counsel of the chief operator, Mr. Carl Meyer, was unstintingly given. Groups of volunteer students of Concordia Seminary cheerfully assumed the task of answering the Spanish mail and assisting in other practical ways.
Advantageous publicity was secured for our broadcasts through bill-board advertising. Local organizations connected with the Outdoor Advertisers of America brought the Lutheran Hour to public attention. Once again we record our indebtedness to Mr. Edward C. Connelly, Jr., of Boston, through whom 232 of our bill-boards were displayed in New England. More than ever before we enjoyed the cooperation of the press. Outstanding was the Saint Louis Globe-Democrat with its frequent notices and a double-page rotogravure spread showing the world-wide character of the Lutheran Hour. The Memphis, Tennessee, Press Scimitar and Commerical Appeal, the Jackson, Tennessee, Sun, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Daily Argus-Leader, the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jounral-Gazette, the Toledo, Ohio, Blade, the Cleveland, Ohio, press, have all shown a sympathetic and appreciative understanding of the pivotal importance which the Christian Church assumes in crisis days like these.
I am deeply grateful again for the privilege of issuing these radio messages in book form. It is encouraging to know that the close of the radio season does not end the usefulness of these sermons, but that in printed permanence they will again be sent throughout the country and even to remote places. Likewise gratifying is the publication of these radio messages in embossed letter for the blind. Most of this transcribing has been done personally by Mrs. Bertha Schroeder and Mr. A. Frederick Graepp or under their direction. These volumes, together with other Christian literature for the sightless, are kept in the Lutheran Library for the Blink at Concordia Seminary and will be sent, upon request and without charge, anywhere in the United States.
Concordia Publishing House, Dr. Edmund Seuel, manager, has given the generous cooperation for which that great Christian enterprise is widely known. Dr. F. Rupprecht, editor for Concordia, personally made the manuscript ready for the printer. Though as in previous years he has modestly requested that his name be omitted, his suggestions have been so helpful that it would be unfair to accede to his request any longer.
I have also enjoyed the loyalty of a self-sacrificing staff that has been ready to help me at all hours and has cheerfully stood by me at all hours and has cheerfully stood by me under the many difficult situations which the stress of an undertaking as vast as ours necessarily produces. Mr. E. Rudolph Bertermann, Ph.D., typed the final copy for each weekly message with the assistance of Miss Lucille Biehl and lent invaluable service. Miss Harriet E. Schwenk gave painstaking help in the manuscript preparation. Professor Wm. Arndt. D.”D., Ph. D., has again carefully read both the copy and the proof and offered so much other good counsel each week that he has earned my sustained gratitude. Pastor Richard Jesse, Mount Calvary Church, St. Louis, a member of the Literature Board of our Church, also read the proof. Once more my wife gave generously of her time to offer much practical help in producing this book. My deep personal thanks to these and all others who have in any way cooperated in the happy, blessed work of bringing Christ to the nations!
We have called the collection
of this season’s radio addresses
Courage In Christ because only in the eternal Savior, Son of God and
of man, can this afflicted age discover guidance for this life and the
assurance for heaven. May these pages, under the Spirit’s benediction,
be used mightily in leading, peace-robbed, fear-filled men and women to
approach the Savior'’ cross with all their sins, sorrows, doubts, and
faith find this courage in Christ!
Saint Louis, Missouri
April 30, 1941