Driving through the radio broadcast wasteland in the Canadian Shield north of Lake Superior in Canada could be a mind-numbing trip if not for some great friends and their wonderful son-in-law Erich K. (For those of you in New Haven – the Canadian Shield is a big rock that is 3,000 miles long by 2,000 miles wide stretching from the Arctic circle to Lake Superior which supports no life save for countless fir trees, several thousand moose and beautiful blue lakes for as far as the eye can see.) For the last week and a half my wife and I have been circling Lake Superior with our good friends Tom (my favorite Catholic who got me the tickets to Ted Nugent a few weeks ago) and Elaine. Their son-in-law Erich and his wife Susan had the foresight to download some Issues, Etc. podcasts for us. (All of us except Tom are pretty much electronically illiterate and Tom is not overly motivated to download Lutheran apologetics stuff.) Once we got past Thunder Bay, Ontario there was basically no radio reception. In between down-loaded episodes of the Prairie Home Companion, we listened to Pastor Wilken and Jeff and a myriad of Issues podcasts.
Because of my busy schedule serving a 2,000 member church, I do not get to listen to Issues everyday. It was a real treat to hear so much of the program over a 48 hour period, making our way through Ontario, between breathe-taking overlooks, kayaking remote islands and agate hunting on remote Minnesota beaches.
I sometimes forget what a gift of God, Pastor Wilken is to His church. The first time I met Pastor Wilken, after listening to several of the shows, I just looked at him and asked “Where did you come from?” I was astounded at the breadth of knowledge and the smooth-as-glass approach that he had to interviewing. I vicared in Southerna California in the mid 80″s and was exposed to Walter Martin (the original Bible answer man), the Simon Greenleaf School of apologetics and law radio program and a myriad of other shows and always longed for a genuinely Lutheran radio talk show. (Of course Dr. Montgomery – founder of the Simon Greenleaf School is authentically Lutheran but the format of that program was not the same straight-forward format as Issues.) All of the sudden, a few years ago I heard Pastor Wilken and was amazed and pleased. Since then I have been a guest on his show, hosted the program live from our sanctuary and listened to countless broadcasts, even while driving through Canada, and I am still amazed each time I listen.
As we struggle with the Texas Lutheran Youth Gathering, the LCMS convocation on structure and all the other challenges in the church today, it is reassuring to know that Issues, Etc. has survived a death blow and is still pumping out Christ-centered, cross focused material, even for those in Canada or any of the other remote locations that are served by the internet and the new Lutheran media. If you haven’t done so yet, tell your friends and neighbors about Issues, and put in a good word for John the Steadfast as well. I have been able to monitor the BJS site for most of the trip but am looking forward to getting home to Naperville, to serve God’s people there and tend more closely to the site.