“Text your questions to 35487.”
Those were the last words of our last break on a Friday.
Over the weekend, Brant Hansen would be interviewing the late Sy Rogers – a prolific speaker that had a ministry focused on God and sexual brokenness. Sy agreed to take questions posed by listeners, which was wonderful. What was not so wonderful was the fact we had to solicit those questions.
How in the world were we going to do that? On CHRISTIAN radio?
One of Brant’s many gifts is saying something unbelievably profound, quickly. I’ve never heard anyone do it better. So, he did it. I can’t remember exactly what he said. I remember it took less than 35 seconds and he said it once at the end of our shift. What happened next still shakes me to my core…
I was watching the Text App screen. It was my job to assemble all the questions, sort through them, pick 10 or so and have them ready for the interview the next day. I honestly didn’t expect many. I thought we would be lucky if we even got 10 questions. Then I remember a lump in both my throat and stomach, simultaneously, as I started to see the texts come in. POUR IN. Our last break was at approximately 4:52 P.M. The questions didn’t slow down until about 7 P.M. Hundreds and hundreds of questions. I was struggling to keep up with printing them all.
Finally, when they were all printed out, I left for home. I hadn’t read any of them yet. It was a beautiful California evening so I remember going out to the tiny little balcony of my tiny little apartment to read the plethora of texts from our listeners. I had some snacks and a beverage as I wasn’t expecting anything emotional. I was the producer of a radio show. I was prepping questions for the host’s interview the next day. I thought that was it; just the mundane side of producing a radio show.
When I read the first question, I felt my stomach churn. Not because it was disgusting or graphic but because it was so honest. I felt the excruciating pain the person had to be feeling when they typed each letter on their touch-tone keypad. As I continued reading text after text my stomach churning turned into full-on tears (and I am not one by any means given to frivolous tears). I was holding people’s pain in my hand. They texted the deepest, darkest, scariest, most humiliating, and gut-wrenching details of their lives to 35487.
Can you imagine the desperation? The despair? The agony?
We were on in afternoon drive so that means these texts, presumably, are coming from people on their way home from work…or a mom at a stoplight taking her kid to band practice…or a pastor on his way to church to read a little more before Bible Study.
The things they most assuredly wouldn’t raise their hand and say in Sunday School or small group they text to a 5-digit number. Such was their desperation for hope and healing.
That day forever changed the way I looked at our audience. Until that time, I have to admit I was a little fearful of them. I believed them to be morally superior to me. Some of the calls and emails we would get certainly did imply so. Perhaps, subconsciously, I was always looking for language that proved to them that I was at least trying to be as spiritual as they were. Except for a flash of anger in traffic, a cross word to their spouse, or a missed early morning meditation time, I thought they were fairly sinless. But there on that balcony, staring into the California night sky, I had an epiphany:
“Sheesh, they’re as screwed up as I am!”
So, my approach to this format changed. I moved from fear to encouragement. I didn’t have to talk like I belonged to some pristine Christian Country Club. There is no Country Club and if there were, I certainly couldn’t belong to it and neither could our listeners.
Thus, the beauty of Calvary.
It frees me from guilt and shame and at that moment I knew our audience, no matter the Christian veneer, needed freeing, too. So, then it became about how many wonderful ways I can communicate what Christ did. How many fun, interesting, and entertaining ways can I convey this beautiful refrain of our Savior:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
That’s not just a message for the ‘unsaved’ or the ‘unchurched.’ It’s for all of us. We need it every single day. There are burdens and weights that our listeners are carrying that no one knows about. It’s brokenness they dare not utter. And with great joy, we get to tell them: “No matter your sickness or brokenness, there is a GREAT PHYSICIAN!!”
Every once in a while, we need reminding…this is a pretty awesome job.
Co-host & Producer, The Brant Hansen Show
Sherri Lynn has been a radio professional for decades and is the producer of The Brant Hansen Show. She has her degree in Communications as well as Biblical Studies and is a writer, comedienne, and former youth pastor. She wrote and produced a comedy DVD entitled “The Very Funny Church Comedy Show: Together We Laugh”, wrote and starred in the stage play musical “The Bold and the Sanctified” which starred American Idol Winner Ruben Studdard, and authored the book “I Want To Punch You In The Face But I Love Jesus.”