Early Beginnings

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
— 1 Corinthians 4:2

When the Holy Spirit first told us to begin our TV ministry in the former USSR, Denise and I had no idea what we were doing. We had never done a TV ministry before, and television equipment was not available to purchase in the Soviet Union. But with a small staff and a tiny budget — and a single home-video camera — we began to film the first programs of Good News With Rick Renner.

At that time, television programming on Soviet television was dark and bleak. Some of it was still broadcast in black and white. So even though we were filming with a home-video camera, the low-budget programs we produced looked at least as good as the other programs being broadcast on the Soviet stations. Although we started in such a primitive fashion, I had great expectations for what God was going to do through this new television outreach.

Adding interest to the program was the fact that there were no Americans broadcasting on Soviet television at the time. When our faces appeared on TV sets across the huge region where we first broadcast, it was a breakthrough that had never occurred before. People were mesmerized that Americans were on their televisions, and people began to tune in to hear what we had to say. Most often, I was the only one on the program, but from time to time, Denise joined me as well.

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At first, we began to notice that people recognized us when we went to the open market to purchase groceries for our house. They thanked us for our programs and reached out to touch us in a tender way, trying to express their thanksgiving for what we brought into their homes. Then the letters started to pour in, taking us completely off-guard. We had not anticipated such a huge mail response! The first book we printed and offered as a free gift on television was Dream Thieves — and when we made that offer, boxes upon boxes of mail poured into our offices. It was the beginning of a TV ministry that has continued for decades uninterrupted, right up to the present day.

My team and I had little knowledge of what we were doing. Our equipment was just an old, used home-video camera, and the lights we used to light up the “set” (our living room) were the lamps from our house. Yet God used the simplicity of it all and began the process of opening entire nations to the teaching of God’s Word via television! It was a small beginning, but it was a beginning. Today this outreach has blossomed into a TV ministry that reaches not only the Russian-speaking nations of the former USSR, but people all over the world through satellite and the Internet.

When you start out with a new assignment from Heaven, you have to start with what you have and with what you know. Whether it is a business, a church, a ministry, or some other pursuit — you can only start at the level where you are and with the amount of money you have at your disposal. You must measure where you are, what stage you are in, and move cautiously and smartly as you proceed to obey and fulfill the call of God on your life. Denise and I weren’t thrilled about starting our TV ministry with an old home-video camera and living-room lamps, but that is what we had and what we could afford. And because we were faithful with what we had, God blessed it and increased us over time.

In First Corinthians 4:2, Paul talked about faithfulness and people who are charged with overseeing projects, saying, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” As we were slowly building our TV ministry, my mind often went to this verse, because it clearly teaches that God watches to see if we are faithful with what has been entrusted to us. Being faithful wouldn’t have been demonstrated by complaining that we had to use a home-video camera. Being faithful was making the decision that we’d cheerfully use that camera to its maximum potential! Faithfulness has a lot to do with attitude — it is not based only on performance.

Notice that Paul spoke of “stewards” in this verse. It comes from the Greek word oikonomos, which is a compound of the word oikos and nomos. The word oikos means house, and nomos means law. When compounded, the new word means the rule or administration of a house. It could also be used to denote the administrator of any project.

Such “stewards” had control of household finances and personal information about their employers; therefore, they had to be highly trusted individuals. Many “stewards” were highly educated and trained for years to attain such positions. However, most started as lowly servants and advanced to higher ranks over a period of time as they proved themselves faithful. Their superiors learned to trust them immensely because they had proven themselves faithful time and time and time again. Thus, a valued steward was generally thoroughly vetted and time-tested.

But First Corinthians 4:2 says, “…It is required in stewards that, a man be found faithful.” The word “found” is the word eurisko, and it depicts a discovery that is made after a long period of study and investigation. The idea this word carries is that of a successful conclusion to a diligent search. After performing a long and arduous study of a person, carefully examining his behavior and ability to work and fulfill responsibilities, at last one determines that this person is “faithful.”

The word “faithful” is the Greek word pistos, which in this particular case denotes one who is utterly reliable. It is one who shows unchanging affection or support in the face of difficulty. It is allegiance to a superior or employer. It is unwavering support to a cause, person, or assignment. This is a person whom an employer can depend on — and a person God can count on to carry through an assignment to the end.

So if you are starting a project on a small level, as Denise and I did with the beginning of our TV ministry, I urge you to be faithful to the core. Be utterly reliable with what God has entrusted into your hands. What you demonstrate to God will determine whether He finds you prepared for advancement or deems it necessary to keep you at your current level.

Today I see the vast impact our TV ministry is having, especially in the Russian-speaking nations of the world. But I have not forgotten that we started with a home-video camera and house lamps in our living room. Rather than complain, we used what God provided and made the most of it. God saw our efforts — and eureka! — by His grace, He found us faithful, advanced our TV ministry, and gave us better equipment to reach a larger audience. We give all the praise and glory to Him, because it was His grace that even enabled us to be faithful!

What is the task before you today? Are you starting small, as Denise and I did when we started our TV ministry in the former USSR? Never forget that Zechariah 4:10 admonishes us not to despise the day of small beginnings! So start where you are, use what you have, and be faithful to the task the Lord has given you. And as God watches you over a period of time and sees that you are utterly reliable to complete with excellence the tasks He gives, He will advance you; He will entrust more to you; and He will promote you! That is a biblical principle found throughout the Word of God — and you can be guaranteed that it’s true for you!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY


F
ather, help me to keep my eyes fixed on the task You have assigned to me. Help me to not complain that my beginning is so small, and teach me how to use this opportunity to learn everything I can before my venture grows larger. I know that You are with me — and You are watching to see what kind of steward I will be. So Holy Spirit, I draw upon Your mighty strength within me to rise up and help me be the best I can be. Most of all, I want to be found pleasing to the Lord and be one whom He can trust with much!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY


I confess that I am committed to be utterly reliable in every task that Heaven entrusts to my care. I will be faithful to use what I have to the best of my ability and to demonstrate to the Father that I do not despise the day of small beginnings. I take this beginning time as an opportunity to learn, to excel, and to prove to God that I am a man or woman He can trust!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. What is the task before you right now? You can only start out at the level where you are and with the cash that is available to you. Be faithful with what you have — stretch it as far as you can make it go, do excellently with what is entrusted into your hands, and believe that God will see it and give you an upgrade!
  2. What Bible character had a small beginning but ultimately made a huge impact with his life? If you have time to do it, it would be good for you to make a list, because there are quite a few of them. This would be quite an encouraging assignment for your heart and soul!
  3. Can you think of someone you personally know who started a dream on a small level, but worked and worked at it until it grew and became significant? Who is that person? What character traits does that person demonstrate that added to his or her success and that you would like to see added to your life?