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The Complete Story:
The Dish Story - Berni Denslow

When our road crew was broadcasting the Berrien Springs rally in Michigan recently, I was excited to pick up a “dish story” from Pioneer Memorial Church secretary, Sue Rappette. Ever wonder how a satellite dish could make a difference for eternity? Read on for “the rest of the story”!

David Rawls grew up in a Nazarene home in Louisiana, and met his wife Marlene when he worked as a pipeline welder around Ironwood, Michigan; but when the subject of marriage came up, David hit a snag. Although he had not been to church in many years, he knew he could not become a Catholic, and Marlene knew nothing about the Nazarene religion; so they decided to study the Bible together and find a church that taught only doctrines that were found in the Holy Scriptures.

Being raised in the Catholic tradition, Marlene understood the Bible to be a book of stories which may or may not be true. On the other hand, David grew up learning Bible verses — even whole chapters — and could recite all the books of the Bible by the time he was 8 years old!

“When I was dating David, we would go to the bars,” Marlene says, “and while we danced he would tell me Bible stories. I remember thinking, ‘I can hardly believe that this man thinks all this is true!’ ”

Their friends noticed them talking and would ask them, “What are you two talking about?” but Marlene admits she was too embarrassed to tell them she was listening to Bible stories.

One day she caught sight of a colorful Bible Story book while she sat in her dentist’s waiting room. She took home one of the interest cards and later ordered a set of the Bible Story books. Soon a book salesman showed up at her home and offered her a free Bible if she would like to take a series of Bible studies.

After completing the studies, she felt overwhelmed with joy as she received her very first Bible. Then she located a Seventh-day Adventist church in Ironwood and began worshipping with them.

David was also taking Bible studies from Amazing Facts, and they both agreed that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was where God was leading them. What a happy weekend it was as David celebrated his birthday on Friday; they were both baptized on Sabbath, and married on Sunday in June of 1971!

Shortly after this they moved 180 miles to Escanaba, Michigan, and found themselves in a new city and in a new church, where they were the youngest couple. Their families and friends were not overjoyed by their choice of religion, and in spite of their newfound happiness in Jesus, they began to feel very alone. Marlene took her loneliness to the Lord, asking Him, “Please send us some friends.”

Knowing that helping others is always a cure for loneliness, and remembering her experience with the literature evangelist who had presented her with her first Bible, Marlene decided this would be a great way to find people who were interested in the Bible. Soon she was studying with Sue Rappette, and shortly after that Sue was baptized. Marlene was elated! God had sent her a sister-in-the-faith as an answer to her prayer. She says, “I was never as excited about anybody’s baptism as I was about Sue’s,” and her joy only grew when a year later Sue’s husband was baptized, too.

Years passed and both families relocated a number of times until the Rappettes settled in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and the Rawls family in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

And now our satellite dish story begins. David says, “We had been studying with a man named John McDonald, and on numerous occasions he came to our home to watch special events on 3ABN. He would often mention how nice it would be if he could watch 3ABN in his own home, so we asked the Lord what He would have us do.”

One day David had an appointment with his dentist, Joe Kim, who happens to be Leroy and Sue Rappette’s son-in-law. When he walked into the waiting room, he was surprised to see Leroy there, and later they both stayed overnight in Joe’s home.

As they talked of how the Lord was blessing their lives, Leroy asked, “Do you know anyone who needs a 3ABN satellite dish? We no longer need ours since there is a downlink in Berrien Springs where we live.”

“I need one,” David said, raising his hand.

“Don’t you already have one?” Leroy asked.

“Well, yes,” David replied, “but I’ve been studying the Bible with a man who was recently baptized in our church, and he really needs one. He loves 3ABN’s programming.”

“Well,” Leroy said, “you can have the dish, but you will have to come pick it up.”
David was delighted. “I assured him that the sun would not set on my head the next day before I was in Berrien Springs to get the dish.”

David made the short trip to John McDonald’s home to deliver the satellite dish. John was so excited as he could now watch 3ABN in his own home and record programs on DVD and VHS to pass out to anyone who would listen or show interest.

The McDonald family then moved about 10 miles away to a new home, and it wasn’t long before their closest neighbors, Andy and Caroline Anderson, decided to visit them with a gift of home-grown sweet corn. What a divine appointment that turned out to be, because by the time they left they had several 3ABN programs on DVD to watch. Soon a great friendship developed, and they readily accepted John’s invitation to come watch Pastor Doug Batchelor’s ’05 Revive series on 3ABN, hardly missing a single night!

Meanwhile, a small group began meeting at David’s home for Bible study. One night John asked, “Do you suppose we have more room at the table? I would like to invite some dairy farmer friends who have been watching 3ABN at our home to study with us.” Soon Andy and Carolyn were part of the group, and they found that they had a lot in common with the group, since the majority of them had been raised in the Catholic faith.

“Our church in Sturgeon Bay is very small,” David says, “If we have 20, it’s a large crowd!” But one Sabbath John decided to invite Andy and Caroline to the Green Bay church to experience worship in a larger congregation. There they found an Amazing Facts evangelistic series just getting underway. Andy and Carolyn began attending regularly, and when a call was made to surrender their lives to Jesus, the Andersons responded to the invitation and were baptized — just a few months ago. Not surprisingly, now they have a dish of their own.

“John and I were so inspired by what has happened, that we asked the Sturgeon Bay church board if we might begin a dish project in our area, and it was soon approved,” David says. “Now if someone wants a dish, we purchase it for them. Each recipient is asked to make a comfortable monthly donation to the fund, so other people might also have a dish. It is a church project, and all members are invited to support this most worthy endeavor.”

It’s simply wonderful how God used a donated 3ABN satellite dish to draw Andy and Caroline to His family, but I know the “dish story” is not finished, yet. All over the world, the Lord continues to impress His children to do the same, and the satellite dishes are moving around, searching out more souls for the Kingdom!

Editor’s note: This idea is very similar to the “Dish Initiative” that has been in place in Australia, New Zealand, and around the United States for some time. It’s amazing that the Lord has impressed people in different parts of the world to do this, without the knowledge that it is being done elsewhere.

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