We have always considered our four annual conferences as a highlight, not because they are events but, rather for the impact they have on the lives of those attending. The Get Ready Conference in March set the tone for things to come and laid the foundation that 2014 was to be a year in which the manifest glory and love of God was going to be displayed.
It was the second year that the River Group hosted the One Voice Worship Experience. People from all over gathered for a week of worship and training, and the feedback received was positively amazing.
The Days of Glory Conference was dedicated to the youth this year and we titled it "Youth Explosion". Our investment into the youth of today will ensure the future of our nation and we laid a solid foundation for this.
The final conference was Stand Strong with Perry Stone and Jeremy Pearsons, encouraging all believers to stand strong in their faith and love for God.
Back home (as we like to call the head office in East London), we continued vigorously with the renovation of River Park. This building was the old FCU (Farmers' Co-Operative Union) that River Ministries purchased in 1999. Since then it has been a constant process (and progress) of converting the old wool stores, offices and auction floors into spaces suitable for ministry needs. In anticipation of the "roof project" in 2015 preparations are underway to relocate the main studio space. The current roof structure is still the old industrial zig-zag design, soon to be replaced with a state-of-the-art domed roof. While this major construction is underway we will be using a secondary studio space for all live broadcasts. At the same time construction has started on KidZone, our new facility for the children's ministry. When complete, the play areas and 6 teaching venues will be able to house around 450 children. These venues have been designed not only as a children's facility (ages 1-13), but also as breakaway venues when we host our various conferences.
The broadcasting division continues in its quest to spread the Gospel around the continent of Africa and beyond and 2014 saw the expansion of broadcasts into Europe. Our satellite transmissions currently reach in excess of 30 million people and we trust that the electronic seeds sown will ensure a great harvest for the Kingdom.
Since its inception in May 2002 the viewers of TBN Africa have grown to command just over 5% of the total DSTV viewership. In its effort to stay relevant to changing times and viewer demands, the channel underwent some major changes in the past five years. The effectiveness in the changes implemented was reflected in a 39% overall growth in viewership. These impressive statistics ensured that channel 341 remains the premium Christian television channel in South Africa.
On 1 November 2014 a name change from TBN Africa to FAITH BROADCASTING NETWORK was instituted as a direct result of the Board's innovative approach to keep Christian television fresh and relevant in today's society. As a final touch in the rebranding rollout, and one that underscores the channel's commitment to being a relevant voice in society, the name FAITH BROADCASTING NETWORK personifies its core ethos.
FAITH BROADCASTING NETWORK encompasses Faith Television on DStv channel 341, ClearTV on Vivid and free-to-air decoders, FlowTV on Sky UK, TBN East Cape on analogue terrestrial as well as in its testing phase on DTT.
In a society that is often rocked by various political, criminal and environmental calamities, a solid faith in an unchanging God proves to be a great comfort. Faith, in essence, is a message of hope, and this message is reflected in the programming offered daily on FAITH BROADCASTING NETWORK. The name change indicates not only a desire to stay relevant, but also shows a commitment to offering viewers the same high quality broadcasts they have grown accustomed to.
Our ministry started out in 1996 as Revival South Africa, where we travelled to towns all over South Africa spreading the gospel. Today, 18 years later, our mission is still the same - reach the lost for the Kingdom - even if some of our methods have changed.
Today we train students to continue the mission and the River Bible Institute have many students in various stages of completing the three-year theology degree.
A couple hundred kilometres to the west the students of Beyond Adventure continue their own gap-year programme in the scenic surroundings of Alice. The Beyond Campus is shared with Every Tribe Missions, where mission trips to small villages all over Africa continue unabated.
All considered, the achievements and highlights can only be measured in people. We cannot boast of achievements and talk about building renovations or programmes, but rather in what those represent and achieve in changing the lives of people. And even then we fall short of trying to measure our success. So, at the end of the day the people at The River Group don't even try and measure their success by the things we do, rather, we measure our success in our obedience to the Holy Spirit. When we see buildings, programmes and other expansions succeed, we take that as a blessing from God. Not only that, but we take the success of yesterday as a springboard to achieve more for God in the future. This is not to say we get things right all the time, but it does mean that where we err we can count on the grace of God to rectify and carry on.
Sometimes we wish that we could quantify our success and speak about highlights, but at the end of the day we can't. The greatest highlights are those times when people come to the altar during a conference, or when we receive a report-back via phone or email! The greatest achievement is to see a person changed by the glory and love of God, turn around and then touch the lives of more people.