Mike Tucker: Hello, Roy! First allow me to welcome you to the Faith for Today family! As you know, Faith for Today is the oldest religious television broadcast in the world. We will celebrate our seventieth birthday in May 2020. What are your emotions as you assume the leadership role for this historic ministry?
Roy Ice: I have quite the mix of emotions right now! The human part of me says, “How in the world did this just happen? There are so many more talented men and women here in our division that should be right here in my place.” And the spiritual side of me says, “Relax. You didn’t make this decision. You haven’t decided where you were going since 1993, when you started out in ministry.”
God opens and closes doors, and it’s not our job to second-guess what He wants us to do. It’s simply our role to follow where He leads and pour all our energy into the opportunities that He provides. I’m not confident in my own creativity or savvy, but I’m very confident that God has mapped out some revolutionary innovations that He wants to accomplish through Adventist media to touch hearts and minds, and connect them to eternal life.
We’d like to know about your family. I believe you are married and have two sons.
I am so blessed with a spiritually rich family. My wife, Dyna, and I have been married for more than 19 years, and in that time she has taught me so much about how to truly care for people in tangible and sacrificial ways. She has quite a reputation for being the consummate culinary artist, and most of our friends wonder how I keep in shape with all of her incredible cooking and baking.
Part of that answer is our two boys: Riley, age 13; and Kolton, age 10. They are wonderfully kind and witty sons who challenge me most nights to set up competitions, Nerf battles, and a bunch of other shenanigans. We are a family that loves our local church and believes that we are called to serve, not to be served. I can’t wait for my family to be able to meet so many across our division and to be able to serve as many communities as we can within the time God allows us to serve in this ministry.
What is your ministry background?
[Laughs.] It’s a bit diverse. Most recently I served as the pastor for resource development at the Loma Linda University church in Loma Linda, California, which included quite an abundance of creative and innovative projects in the areas of media, publishing, music, and even our church app.
For the past three years one of the things I’ve been blessed to see God do is to bring a very passionate group of people together to research and discuss the character of God. We call it The Bible Lab, and this intergenerational group of about 450 people meets every Sabbath at 10:30 a.m. in Loma Linda to consistently be blown away by God’s infinite love. We are currently exploring ways that Faith for Today and Loma Linda University church can continue partnering together in this exciting program. Our website, www.TheBibleLab.com, contains audio and video episodes and updated info about what The Bible Lab is up to.
I think that’s a wonderful program.
Thanks, Mike. Previous to working as a pastor at Loma Linda University church, I served as the executive pastor at the Napa Community Seventh-day Adventist Church, and as chaplain of Pacific Union College in Angwin for nearly six years. Before that I was a youth pastor at Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church, and a Bible teacher at Sacramento Adventist Academy even before that. The only other job I had before all this, and just before going to Andrews University in Michigan for seminary, was working for two years in the Burleson Seventh-day Adventist Church in Texas—the same church that you, Mike, had pastored just a few years before I graduated.
The Burleson church was a good place to learn. I cut my teeth on pastoral ministry there after years of teaching. I made most of my mistakes there, but they were gracious enough to let me grow.
That’s one more similarity we have. I made mistakes there too. I was so green and wasn’t the best pastor.
Since we announced your new role with Faith for Today on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve seen people recounting how you were a pastor there, and the folk in Burleson are claiming you. You made more of an impact then you thought. Is this where your passion for ministry started?
I was halfway through my undergraduate work at Southwestern Adventist University, studying pre-med. I knew I was going to Loma Linda someday. I just didn’t think it was for anything other than medical school.
My biology professor taught me how to pray, and he challenged me to a 30-day prayer journey in which he asked me to pray twice a day, 15 minutes each time, to listen to the voice of God and speak only half the time, and actually let God give me His prayer request for the day. It was probably the most frustrating 30-day experience I’ve ever had.
I tried just about every configuration for how to talk half the time and be quiet half the time. I didn’t receive anything. Silence. I had no impressions. I had no visions. I heard no voices—until day 30. I was sitting in one of my elective classes, a business management class, when the voice of God spoke to me and said, What are you doing here? You belong in the Barron building. The Barron building is where they teach all the theology classes on campus.
As cryptic as that sounds, I knew exactly what it meant, and I broke out in a cold sweat. I had said all during high school and the first half of college that I’d never be a pastor. I just didn’t have a relationship with a pastor in my experience growing up. It was something quite foreign to me. God was calling me to something I had never envisioned myself doing.
I turned in the drop/add slip and the most amazing thing happened when the registrar stamped my slip and handed it back to me. I felt this overwhelming joy and peace from the Holy Spirit.
I felt like smiling and laughing at a time when I was absolutely petrified, scared to death, because I realized—more than anyone else—that I was unqualified for ministry. That moment, to be called by God and realize exactly how unworthy I was to represent God, it impacted my life in a huge way.
I’m passionate about helping individuals understand that regardless of how you feel, God is greater than your feelings. He needs to use us as we are—as individuals, and as very diverse personalities—to present His amazing character to people who have absolutely no idea that He loves them.
I also want to help people realize that if you give God a chance, He’ll take care of everything. He will make you in some way qualified and able to carry
out something you never imagined you’d have the ability to do.
We describe Faith for Today as a “first contact” ministry. In other words, it’s our job to create programming and materials that meet the needs of and build friendships with unchurched people. How do you plan to build on Faith’s ministry to secular people?
If you want to have influence, you must have a relationship. If you do not have a relationship, you will never have influence.
We must continue Faith for Today’s unique ministry that so effectively initiates and develops relationships with people who are not only disconnected from our movement but are completely unaware of what our movement is all about. Here’s the good news: Now more than ever, media shapes the lives of nearly every man, woman, and child in our division. At no other time in earth’s history have people been so attached to media devices. When someone wants to research information on health, spirituality, relationships, or an endless list of how-to questions, they don’t even have to go to a library anymore. All that they want to know is already in their possession. In fact, it’s in either their pocket or purse—their mobile devices. And today, when someone wants to learn how to live better, or to discover how to connect with God, or what Christianity and Adventism is all about, all they have to do is pick up their phone or tablet and tell it what they’re looking for.
The vast majority of people prefer to watch a video rather than to read a large block of text on a website. So that makes video media resources so much more important than ever before. With God’s guidance we need to continue to acknowledge the changing ways that people are consuming broadcast media, and make sure that we position ourselves in those emerging markets so that God can connect us. We’ve created good content for years; now we are connecting with local congregations, and on personal mobile devices through streaming as well as television.
What would you like everyone who reads this to know about Faith for Today/Lifestyle Magazine?
I would like to help clear up a misconception that I had for years, and perhaps someone who is reading this article also shares. Faith for Today’s mandate is to create content that is not aimed at Seventh-day Adventists. What this means is that our methodologies will not always, unfortunately, be understood or appreciated by the more traditional or conservative members. I hope that the fruit of Faith for Today will be so evident that those who initially might question what we are doing will see clearly why we have to do ministry this way. This media ministry serves as an ambassador in a distant land. It’s my prayer that we will serve as such compelling ambassadors that multitudes will be irresistibly drawn to conclude that they absolutely must visit the kingdom that we represent.
I am looking forward to serving together with you.*
I’m ecstatic to be able to have you, Mike, stay on board full-time through the end of August to serve as my mentor, as my counselor, as my guide. These ministries are complex, and despite whatever experience I may have in some relevant areas, there are a lot of things that I don’t know. It’s a huge blessing to be able to work closely with you. I feel the Spirit of God working with us to have this relationship.
The ability to do ministry on this scale is the dream of many pastors who, like me, measure their effectiveness as a minister of the gospel with their quantifiable productivity—to be able to point at something in concrete terms and say, “I am being productive right now in reaching this many people with the gospel message and helping those who are disconnected have the chance to connect with God.”
Inside Faith for Today
By Mike Tucker, speaker/director emeritus
I never dreamed that I would one day lead the ministry founded by television pioneers William and Virginia Fagal. When the invitation came to lead this ministry, I was overwhelmed and quite certain that it was a mistake. How could I follow the likes of William Fagal and Dan Matthews? But for the past 16 years it has been my privilege to guide the oldest non-news television broadcast in the world.
Faith for Today, a ministry that will be 70 years old in May 2020, has always been focused on connecting with unchurched people. By using drama, films, TV specials, and talk shows, We reach people who don’t watch “preaching shows.” Today Lifestyle Magazine, the award-winning television program, has a weekly viewing audience of more than 3 million people without having to pay for airtime. Religious and secular stations/networks donate airtime because of the quality of our programming. This has been the case for decades and God alone is to be praised!
Faith for Today has long made television shows of the highest quality as evidenced by the scores of awards won. But in more recent years we’ve found better ways to connect our secular viewers with local churches. Popular seminars such as Mad About Marriage and The Choice have drawn audiences across the globe. Small-group curricula such as Mad About Marriage: Flipping the Switch and The Grief Sessions allow local churches to build loving friendships with our guests.
Over the past 16 years God has given us the means to produce 150 Faith for Today preaching programs, nearly 250 episodes of Lifestyle Magazine, four televised evangelistic series; to write and publish 15 books, publish several small group curricula; to hold nearly 150 seminars; to speak for more than 80 camp meetings; travel to 18 countries to preach the gospel; and to play a role in bringing thousands to faith in Jesus.
One soul for the kingdom is priceless! I was recently recognized by a viewer at a convenience store in Dallas, Texas. This man told me he had discovered Jesus through our program. He thanked me for the program and then asked about my church. While I do not yet know where this new friendship will lead, it is an example of the sort of work we do. We build friendships with people who don’t know Jesus, and invite local churches to help with next steps.
As exciting as all this has been, I believe greater things yet await Faith for Today.