Years ago Tommy and Carolyn Walden listened to Joe Temple’s radio shows on a San Antonio station, always with one thought in mind.
They lived in Blanco, where Tommy Walden served a church. They loved the message broadcast by the minister from Abilene, but hated the poor quality of the production, which made Temple seem like speaking into a well, Tommy recalls.
The couple actually prayed that someone would provide Temple with better equipment. Apparently God listened to their prayer and gave them the answer.
“We have become the answers to our own prayers,” Walden said.
It took a while, but today, thanks to the Waldens and their followers, those reel soundtracks from Temple’s “Lest We Forget” Bible study program, which premiered in 1939, were reproduced on CD.
They can be heard three times a day on three Abilene radio stations and online. Thanks to high-quality reformatting, Temple no longer sounds like it’s in a well.
It was quite a journey from the moment the Vaudois first heard Temple’s broadcast to the reformatting of its messages. After serving in Blanco’s Church, Walden joined the Billy Graham organization, and the couple met Temple through this connection. At the time, Temple was minister of the Abilene Bible Center at 733 Butternut Street, which today houses Piersall’s funeral directors.
The Abilene Bible Center later became the Abilene Bible Church and meets at 3125 Oldham Lane. The church was originally headed by Tim Temple, son of the late Joe Temple. Tim Temple is now retired.
In 1975, Joe Temple invited the Waldens to move to Abilene, where Tommy Walden would do a one-year internship with Temple and then take over radio programming.
Temple died in 1990 and in 2000 the Vaudois opened the Discovery Center, a museum of creation. Walden is also pastor of a congregation that meets at the center, 810 Butternut St.
The Vaudois, members of the congregation and others, took up the reformatting project, renaming the original program, “Discovering the treasures of the Bible”.
They inherited the boxes from the old tapes and hired someone to do the reformatting, a project that took two to three years and was “a labor of love,” Carolyn said. For example, the Book of Joshua alone took 156 programs to cover.
The Waldenses were not discouraged by the task that lay before them of converting all the old tapes to CDs because they believed that today’s listeners will benefit from Temple’s messages as much as the original listeners.
“We knew we had a treasure trove of these Bible lessons,” Carolyn said.
The Vaudois pay for the broadcasts on a six-month trial basis. Their goal is to get enough sponsors to continue after that.
At its peak, Joe Temple’s radio program was broadcast from Abilene on 16 stations from California to New York and the Caribbean. Carolyn said the reason why Temple’s Bible lessons were so popular is the same reason she thinks listeners today will want to hear them.
“He made the word of God so simple and practical,” she said.
He would read a verse and then ask, “What does this mean for you and me today?”
She thinks the same answer to that question is just as relevant today. Temple’s approach to Bible study was systematic, going verse by verse – which explains the boxes and boxes of old cassettes that are reformatted.
If enough donations arrive, the shows will continue after the six months that the Waldens and Abilene Discovery Center congregation funds. A generous Christmas gift has helped immensely, but it will take more to keep the broadcasts going.
With three broadcasts a day on three radio stations, the Vaudois hope that a sufficient number of people will listen and want the ministry to continue.
“It’s kind of a field test,” Carolyn said.
HOW TO LISTEN
The reformatted radio programs of the late Joe Temple can now be heard three times a day, Monday through Friday: 6:05 am, KWKC, 1:40 pm; 6:45 am, KYYW, 1470; noon, KVVO, 94.1 FM. Programs also available on request at www.evidences.org. The programs will air six months in the hope of securing sponsorships to continue. For more information on how to help, email [email protected] or call 673-5050.