Interest in the radio broadcast quickly grew. A Board of Directors was formed, chaired by Dr. David O. Fuller, who kept that position until the late 1970’s.
In 1945, Mel Johnson (Uncle Mel left to pursue a position with Youth For Christ. Carl Bihl (Uncle Bill) became the second director of the ministry. Also in 1945 a man by the name of Harry Trover came to be a fundraiser as well as a story writer for the ministry. Between 1945 and 1972, Harry Trover wrote hundreds upon hundreds of radio dramas which became the back-bone for the broadcast.
In 1946, the program was trimmed from an hour in length to a half hour, but the name Children’s Bible Hour was retained. They figured it sounded better than Children’s Bible Half-Hour!
In 1947, CBH needed an office manager. Harry Trover said, “I have a sister in Canton, Ohio who is an excellent business woman and would make a great office manager.” And so it was that Bertha Trover Shooks came from Canton with husband Ernie and daughter Beverly. She would prove to be a very important addition to the staff.
In 1948, the ministry began falling on hard times. Finances were low, and many of the radio stations which were airing the program (all of which required payment for airtime) were dropped. By the end of the year, the ministry was down to five stations and over $30,000 in debt. The Board of Directors met to talk about the possibility of dissolving the ministry. It was difficult to find anyone who wanted to be the director; no one wanted to go down with the sinking ship. Bertha Shooks offered to “take the job ‘til you can get another director.” She had never spoken on the radio, and really didn’t have a radio voice. But, Aunt Bertha became the ministry’s third director in January of 1949, and it soon became evident that God had His hand on this lady as she began to rebuild the ministry.
There’s another name that needs to be introduced into this history. Back in 1943, a nine-year-old named Charlie Vander Meer started taking part in the broadcasts. And it began in an unusual way. Charlie’s dad had brought him to one of the live broadcasts in the WLAV studio, which was capable of seating up to 130 people. The studio was often filled to capacity for the broadcast time. Uncle Mel would occasionally take a roving microphone and interview some of the studio audience. One of those he interviewed was Charlie. Mel liked the way he responded, and Charlie was invited to be a regular—not to sing, but to read scripture, quote poems, read audio-object-lessons and then eventually become the regular boy in the dramatized stories written by Harry Trover. More about Charlie later.
It wasn’t long after Aunt Bea took over that she felt the ministry needed to try expanding into the brand new field of television. From late 1949 until 1955 the ministry produced several series of films made for TV. These consisted of music and stories as well as other features. It was a bold step in a new direction.
What happened to Charlie? In 1956 he graduated from college and asked Aunt Bea if there was a job he could fill until, as he put it, “I go to the mission field.” Well, CBH became his mission field. He started full time in 1956 and just never left. He worked with Aunt Bertha until her retirement in 1972 at which time Uncle Charlie became the fourth CBH director, filling that position until March 1999 when Randy Hekman became the fifth director. Randy was with CBH for 4 1/2 years. After serving 13 years on the Board of Directors, Mrs. Terre Ritchie came on as Executive Director on November 3, 2003.
During Charlie’s term as director he reached thousands of children for Christ. He is so wellknown that he cannot go many places around this country where people don’t recognize his strong, vibrant voice. He is still recording Keys for Kids today!Uncle Charlie is still doing programs. He reaches children in camps, chapel services in Christian schools, and ministry meetings in churches. He continues to do share-a-thons with radio stations across the country and even fits in a missions trip now and then! You can't keep a good man down!
Many publishers are using Keys for Kids stories to create their own publications in other languages. Tyndale House has recently released a Ukrainian version. Praise the Lord!
大衛站在遠處看著他父親打開一個蜜蜂巢。 “肯定的是一個大蜂巢，對不對，爸爸? 牠們看起來都好忙喔!”大衛笑著說。他又補充說道:“牠們真是忙碌的蜜蜂!”
Down Gilead Lane is aired on over 2,200 radio outlets across the country. Our Classic CBH programs are carried by approximately 250 stations. Keys for Kids is carried by 900 stations.
Please pray with us that God will continue to provide these outlets so even more children will hear of God’s love for them.
These colorful illustrated picture books were adapted from our classic radio programs. Editing the scripts into book form and then adding the art of many different illustrators has brought this dream to fruition. You’ll find a book for every season of faith that a child encounters. For example, salvation, growing faith, forgiveness, pride, death of a loved one, and all sorts of subjects your child can read about. Complete with a CD of Uncle Charlie narrating the story , you’ll find these beautiful books a needed addition to your children's library. These books also make great gifts!
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