From ANN, December 22, 2015:    Amazing Facts, a media ministry sponsored by the Northern California Conference, is celebrating 50 years of global evangelism.

In early 1965, a small group of pastors gathered together in Baltimore, Maryland, to talk about the ineffective outreach efforts that were stagnating churches in their area. Among those meeting were Cyril Miller and Bill May.

Over the next few weeks, during sessions of earnest prayer, the idea of Amazing Facts was born. For the past 50 years this international, multimedia ministry has delivered a distinct last-day message to every corner of the globe. From a small basement office in Maryland to a bustling office complex outside Sacramento, California, Amazing Facts has changed in size and scope, but its Christ-centered mission is still the same.

Innovating Evangelism

Bill May felt impressed to start a new radio broadcast that would attract the attention of people lost in a mire of secularism and materialism. It seemed like a strange idea since they had no equipment, experience, or money for such a venture. But God was leading, so they moved forward in faith.

The first step was to find a convincing, energetic host for the groundbreaking radio broadcast. They decided on a pastor from Louisville, Kentucky.

Joe Crews was a successful pastor and evangelist but was unconvinced of his ability to host a radio program. But May was sure that Crews was the man God wanted. Eventually, May’s vision for a new approach to evangelism caught Crews’ heart and he, along with wife Lu Ann, moved to Maryland in October 1965.

Overcoming Obstacles

Soon after, the Amazing Facts 15-minute radio format was developed. Crews used interesting historical and scientific facts to grab the attention of listeners and worked in an important Bible message. They believed they had a winning format but still lacked equipment. The leaders found themselves on their knees, asking God to intervene. The Lord did not disappoint. A few days later a local physician offered the use of his personal recording studio, absolutely free.

Finally, on March 7, 1966, the first Amazing Facts broadcast hit the airwaves in Baltimore through the radio station WBMD.

Bill May next developed a pioneering series of Bible studies called “Information Folders.” Within a few months, Crews was offering free Bible studies at the end of each program to encourage people to study the Bible for themselves.

Expanding the Reach

Step by step, God opened doors and Amazing Facts to expand its literature ministry. It published dozens of pocket-sized books. The ministry also began a Bible correspondence school based on a redesign of the Information Folders, called the Amazing Facts Bible Study Guides. In the late 1970s, Joe Crews started training Bible workers, which led to the soul-winning ministry of public evangelism. By the mid-1980s, the ministry expanded its media outreach to television.

More ministries meant the need for more space. Having outgrown its basement office, Amazing Facts struggled to find funding to expand. After a day of fasting and prayer, however, a generous supporter donated a large plot of land in Frederick, Maryland. Just a few months later enough donations came in to construct a debt-free building.

For nearly 30 years, Joe Crews led the ministry of Amazing Facts by innovating evangelism, overcoming obstacles, and expanding into new areas of outreach—all in faith that God would provide so long as Christ was the ministry’s focus.

New Leadership, Same Principles

In 1994, tragedy struck when Joe Crews died suddenly. The ministry was in deep mourning as Bill May took over as interim-director. Yet Crews had already chosen a successor—pastor Doug Batchelor. As the new president of Amazing Facts, Batchelor could communicate with both churchgoers and secular-minded skeptics, compassionately presenting firm truths that could change lives.

In 1996, Batchelor moved the ministry to Sacramento, California. Under his leadership, the ongoing work of Amazing Facts now spans the entire world.

A Variety of Ministries

Today, Amazing Facts is a multifaceted, soul-winning ministry committed to proclaiming the gospel and the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14.

Television: Amazing Facts TV programs, such as “Amazing Facts Presents”, broadcast on cable and satellite networks all around the world, including Daystar, Discovery Channel, Lifetime Network, The Church Channel, The Word Network, SAFE TV, 3ABN, the HOPE Channel, HCBN Philippines and Indonesia, Lifestyle TV in Sweden, and Firstlight Broadcasting in New Zealand.

Radio: A live call-in program hosted by Batchelor, “Bible Answers Live,” is carried on more than 100 stations around North America, including Sirius XM satellite radio. It can also be heard around the world on the Internet every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Training: Amazing Facts offers dynamic training for lay people and churches wanting to become effective soul-winners. The Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism (AFCOE) includes classes on how to give Christ-centered Bible studies, mastering Bible doctrines, turning churches into vibrant growth centers, leading seekers to baptism, methods to disciple and retain converts, evangelistic preaching, and much more. Amazing Facts also provides AFCOE to Go and Empowered Church intensive weekend training seminars.

Internet: offers Bible Studies, Amazing Facts TV, radio programs, inspiring articles and books.

Bible School: More than 100,000 students have enrolled in Amazing Facts Internet and mail-based Bible schools.

Correspondence: Amazing Facts also offers prison ministry by writing letters of encouragement and supply inmates with literature, Bibles, devotionals and other study materials.

Publishing: To provide seekers in-depth information on a variety of Bible topics, Amazing Facts publishes hundreds of resources. These include books that address the most commonly asked Bible questions and an ever-growing library of DVDs and CDs.

Local Evangelism and Revival: Amazing Facts’ highly trained and experienced team of evangelists hosts dozens of gospel, revival and prophecy seminars each year throughout North America.

Worldwide Evangelism: Amazing Facts has set the standard for large-scale worldwide evangelism outreach via satellite. International programs such as “Landmarks of Prophecy” and evangelistic outreaches in India, China, Jamaica, Africa, Korea, South America, and more have reaped thousands of baptisms worldwide.

God’s Message Is Its Mission

In every area of outreach, Amazing Facts remains committed to giving people the biblical answers they need to make a decision for Christ and to equip them to lead others to Him as well.

Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the denomination’s world headquarters in Washington, DC.