Dear friends, I have very exciting news! But first, let me say a big THANK YOU to everybody that has been emailing, calling, and writing to express your excitement and commitment to helping SkyWatch TV get off the ground. Television time is extraordinarily expensive and it has truly been heartwarming to read the kind words of support, receive your gifts, and to hear how you are sharing the news about this new television ministry and mobile-ready web service (and coming retreat center) with your friends and family.
As many of you know, Nita and I moved to Missouri eight years ago to retire. People laugh now, but we really did plan to vacate all public ministry and quietly vanish from conferences, media, church appearances, and any other “visible” works. We planned to continue supporting ministries from the background, of course, but to no longer be involved on location. That was the plan. But, as they say, God had different ideas.
Not only has everything turned topsy-turvy with our private retirement scheme, but over the last thirty-six months we have reinvested our life savings back into ministry—from purchasing land and building facilities to setting up television and studio equipment, as well as budgeting for salaries that those dear people who are helping bring the “7-Fold SkyWatch TV Vision” to fruition require. Our number one goal now is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with millions of people around the world through a new and unique paradigm in Christian broadcasting. In addition to television, radio, and print publishing operations, we’ve also started construction of a healing retreat center on 150 acres (we own the land) where children and adults can come AT NO COST and where all amenities—from food services and lodging to expert recreational and counseling staff—will be available for free. (By the way, does this retreat concept sound like an impossible pipe dream? Well I want you to know we did this once before when I was the Executive Director of the Board for Camp and Conference Ministries for the world’s largest evangelical organization. I learned from experience it can be done, but in this current case it will truly be a non-profit in the purest sense of the word—a safe and inspirational environment where people can be restored or just relax for a few days and get refreshed, and again, all at no cost. Groups will be able to use the facility as well [for instance marriage retreats, writer’s breakaways, girls and boys clubs, and so on] but the heart of the vision for this facility is to focus mainly on those who have somehow been hurt, abandoned, disabled, or abused.)
We are so serious about this retreat that we’ve already taken a giant step of faith and hired some of the qualified staff. We’re even getting specially trained animals that are “therapy certified” and used in this type ministry. I, myself, have personally been working to make our publishing house (Defender Publishing) as successful as it can be so that I can drain the money from it to help pay for these worthy ministries, buildings, and equipment. We are praying that others will catch this vision for the retreat center and the scale of the Gospel broadcasting media outlet (television, book and magazine print and e-publications, retreat and conference ministries, etc.) as they see things really start to take off (and observe how we, ourselves, are also putting what money we had plus can now generate into these efforts) and come forward to help us fund the remaining equipment, building, and additional staff needs.
As for the purpose of this letter to you: I would like to share some of the levels of developments at SkyWatch TV, Defender Publishing, and Whispering Ponies Ranch Retreat Center, to make you aware of what you are already helping build and can expect to see in the weeks just ahead.
- WE ARE A 501(c)(3) NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION. Some have asked if SkyWatch TV is a an IRS-recognized non-profit organization. The answer is YES! We received our letter from the IRS in record time. In fact it was only eight weeks from the time that we sent in the completed application with by-laws, budget etc. to the federal office that the official recognition letter from the IRS was returned. This letter is necessary to get on many television stations and networks as well as to provide donors receipts for their tax purposes. Every supporter of SkyWatch TV will receive a tax receipt at the end of the year or on request.
- DAILY NEWS DESK hosts Derek and Sharon Gilbert are settling into their new “digs” and their offices and sound room have carpet going in this week. This means they are only a few days away from starting daily news (video) analysis from a biblical worldview. These updates will be in addition to the weekly broadcast shows and will be posted daily atwww.SkyWatchTV.com as well as on ROKU (we hope to have our new ROKU channel active this week), YouTube, and our Facebook channels.
- 12 PILOT SHOWS have been filmed with some very special guests and you will see them in our flagship broadcasts on DirectTV (channel 376), the DISH Network (channel 267), and Glory Star Satellite (channel 117) on Tuesday nights, 9:30 EST/8:30 central. We will announce more about our upcoming guests as our roster solidifies. Again, these shows will also be available on our website each week as well as on ROKU, YouTube, and social media channels like Facebook.
- A FIVE-WEEK SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT is currently being edited for television broadcast. This first special is based on the last two years of research by myself and Cris Putnam and is titled after our upcoming book, On the Path of the Immortals (due to release in May). A trailer for the book can be viewed on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1oxNLN8qXY. We plan a minimum of three such special, month-long reports (but hope to produce four) per year during which you will see regular broadcasting interrupted as our film crews travel to remote locations in order to investigate “prophecy, discovery, and the supernatural.” These reports will grow in production quality, presentation, and sophistication as we obtain some of the commercial equipment we need, but we think you will be thrilled to see what we have in mind for this new paradigm in Christian broadcasting.
- THE ALL-WOMEN’S PROGRAM. Currently under development is an all-female program and studio waiting additional funding. This women’s cast will operate from its own studio (think of it as a Christian version of The View) and will cover a variety of issues of importance to women, from a Christ-centered approach. It will be hosted by Sharon Gilbert and several other of the ladies on the SkyWatch TV team.
- DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER. As some of you may know, we have been working for over two years on a documentary film titled INHUMAN (watch a trailer athttp://www.inhumanthemovie.com). We have gathered all the footage and the first ten minutes of the film had been edited when my limited staff had to stop and focus on building SkyWatch TV. We are hoping to get back to the film and to release it before the end of summer, but ultimately we will need to hire a full-time videographer that can be dedicated to this new department. Our goal is to produce two theatre-quality documentaries per year.
- A BIGGER STUDIO AND SET IS ALREADY UNDER DESIGN! If you would like to help us move forward on the powerful studio we have imagined from the start (the one we are using now was just to get us launched; I paid for it out of the last of my retirement funds [around $65,000] but it lacks essential equipment needed for our full-blown six-seat/six camera operations), one of the biggest needs we have right now is three more HD cameras, lights, and studio/set equipment. Below is a concept similar in some ways to what we plan to build. If I told you what the experts said to expect in terms of cost, you would hardly believe it. Let’s just say it is easy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a commercial studio. But the Lord has given us favor with camera, equipment, and fixtures suppliers and we can create a world-class studio for substantially less than normal costs. We are moving forward as quickly as cash allows us and believing by faith that we will have the fully operational SkyWatch TV set up and running by or before mid-summer that will allow our 4-6 reporters and analysts on the set during broadcasts. I feel in my gut that time is of the essence, and that is why Nita and I have been (and will continue to be) putting our own money where our mouth is, like I said above.
- THE SKYWATCH TV ROKU CHANNEL is being worked on as I write. Setting the ROKU channel up was more technical than we had thought it would be, but we are getting it figured out and we plan to have the channel starting sometime in the next few days. Our long-term goal is to grow the ROKU channel into 24/7 broadcasting wherein we partner with a select group of ministries and teachers (those who often speak at our conferences) and broadcast their latest teachings as well.
- SKYWATCH MAGAZINE. I just reviewed the nearly-ready first edition of SkyWatch Magazine and I was BLOWN AWAY! It is so much better than I could have even dreamed of! This monthly e-magazine will be FREE to all our email subscribers. It will present unique contributions from SkyWatch TV staff as well as world-renowned experts in the fields of theology, eschatology, geopolitics, archaeology, and the supernatural. SkyWatch Magazine will explore compelling questions about the nature of reality, the unseen war that rages around us, discovery, and the future, all measured against the plumb line of the Word of God. The format is dynamic, featuring interactive content and embedded video and will be readable online as well as on tablets and smartphones. Eventually a print version of the magazine will be available to those who prefer a physical copy by mail.
- CONFERENCE planning resumes now that Bob Ulrich and Gary Stearman have returned from Israel. Bob and I will be scouting locations. We need a hotel big enough and with the necessary open date(s) to facilitate 2,500 or so people and 30+ speakers, not counting those that attend via live streaming. This will be the granddaddy of all the conferences we’ve organized over the last several years, co-sponsored by SkyWatch TV, Prophecy Watchers, Defender Publishing, and Whispering Ponies Ranch Retreat Center.
- THE RETREAT CENTER. As mentioned above, we’ve already purchased the 150 acres that Whispering Ponies Ranch (WPR) is being built upon (besides serving as a general retreat facility, WPR will specialize in training and using therapy animals such as horses and dogs, both at this facility and by extension across the nation through a donation program that will benefit other facilities, ministries, and veterans). Nita and I have already paid for construction of the main WPR lodge, which is a beautiful building constructed in a private setting that can house groups of about fifty people. We also financed the main large arena (commercial training facility) that can substitute as a multipurpose building and auditorium when necessary. These main structures are ready to begin use whenever we get everything else up and running. Industrial paddocks are under construction now, as well as horse-driving and riding paths, prayer-walking trails, a large pond where kids and adults can fish, and more. We hope by summer to present a special report on SkyWatch TV showing everything that is built, under construction, and available for use. Of course, SkyWatch TV’s Gospel outreach and Whispering Ponies Ranch Retreat Center’s hands-on healing ministry are being built as funds (including personal) are available. The retreat and media outlet will provide a place of outreach, recovery, love, rest, healing, learning, and fellowship.
HOW CAN YOU HELP SKYWATCH TV AND WPR RETREAT CENTER?
1) PRAY FOR THIS MINISTRY! Ask the Lord to keep us on track and to maximize His will through what we know He has called us to do in these late hours. Without His blessings, calling, and hand of guidance, I might as well go back to my retirement plans, right? PLEASE KEEP US IN YOUR DAILY PRAYERS!
2) PURCHASE BOOKS AND OTHER MEDIA FROM OUR ONLINE STORE! This is currently our main income source paying for operations, equipment, and construction. Every time you buy something from our website store you are investing directly in real ministry. (Please note: We are still using theSurvivorMall.com store but are currently building a new online store that will soon replace it and have the name “SkyWatchTV” on the banner.)
3) MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION! Please consider making a monthly donation or one-time gift to SkyWatchTV (primarily to help pay for television air time each month, but you can stipulate how the monies are to be used; i.e., for equipment such as new cameras, buildings, or other particular needs). We have the opportunity to go on more stations as soon as we can budget the costs. In return, each month we will mail a special gift to you as our way of saying thank you. By donating in this way, you are directly helping to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people around the world. Learn more about donating here: http://skywatchtv.com/donate/
4) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP SKYWATCH TV SPECIFICALLY: Our main facilities and buildings are finished now and in use. Unfortunately, we used almost all the financial resources we had on hand to get to this point and now we need to finish the main and secondary studios, and to expand to additional television stations. I could list many small office equipment essentials, but the things we really need are three HD cameras, studio lighting, and several pieces of commercial set furniture including the large news desk. (Oh, and if somebody has a nice, newer truck or van to donate for the company’s use, that would also be very helpful. We are happy to send donation receipts for tax purposes.)
5) TO HELP WHISPERING PONIES RANCH (WPR) SPECIFICALLY: This retreat facility is about 65 percent ready, and once built will be able to provide food services, lodging, ground and ropes course programs, and therapy and hospice animals interacting with and tailored to each groups specific needs. WPR has building, financial, and equipment needs, including nice farm tractors for yard and field maintenance, a work truck, all-terrain vehicles, and other vehicles. We also need to build a multi-vehicle garage with apartments for guest leaders, a second lodge, a pool and pool house, bath facilities, the main barn, and a small RV park for volunteer workers. Will you help us build this caring place that will be available at no cost to those who need it most? Please pray about it.
I trust you can see from this personal letter what busy little beavers we are and have been, as well as our personal level of commitment. We are putting every resource we have into 1) reaching the world with the Gospel while possible; and 2) building a place where people can be restored and healed in a beautiful retreat setting.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I promise I will answer as soon as I can. I’ll try to write a personal letter like this several times per year to keep you updated as things unfold. And God bless you for everything you have already done and are doing to partner with us. Together we are doing our part in spreading the Gospel, healing the hurting, and ministering to Jesus himself in this way:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”
And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25: 35–40)
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Besides regular retreat groups, WPR Center to include therapy programs including equestrian and canine assistance animals and handlers for specialized uses.