Reprinted with permission of Charisma News Service.

Thanks to their country's tough TV-broadcast rules, many Canadians from non-Christian faith backgrounds have come to Christ.

Viewers of programs about other religions put out by Christian broadcasters at the government's insistence end up staying tuned to the channel and watching shows in which the gospel is proclaimed. "God often uses adversity and what appears to not make sense to bring His purposes forth," says Willard Thiessen, president of Trinity Television, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Christian TV station. Begun in October 1976 as a single show called "It's a New Day," Trinity Television last September launched a subsidiary station called Now TV in Vancouver, British Columbia. Over the years, Trinity has gathered force as one of the country's few Christian stations, prompting many to come to faith in Christ -- including Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. "We have many Hindus, Muslims, etc., who call Now their station because we air shows about their particular faith," Thiessen said. "What eventually happens is they start watching all the Christian shows, too. Many are convicted when they hear about Christ, and then give their lives to Him. We're happy to have other faiths watching our shows." Until 1993, government regulations allowed Christian shows to be aired but prohibited 24-hour Christian stations. Under pressure, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission introduced new regulations, requiring Christian stations to air at least 18 hours, or one-seventh, of "other" programming during a 126-hour broadcasting week.
"It's a New Day" is a one-hour news, teaching and prayer program for Christians, and airs on local secular stations. Trinity Television has also produced several Christian children's shows, which air predominantly in the United States. Now TV is a 24-hour channel that can be viewed primarily in Vancouver and the rest of the province of British Columbia. Its viewers are predominantly non-Christian and most are women ages 25 to 54. The programming includes the call-in "Pure Sex and Relationships" and movies with Christian values that are followed by on-air discussions. Broadcasts of "60 Minutes," "Dateline" and "Primetime" are also followed by call-ins. "We're trying to be geared to the culture and willing to do things that are on the edge to relate to people," said company vice president Jeff Thiessen. "We want to hear the common people's views." He also hopes to garner some government grants for the eventual production of Christian shows and movies. The Canadian government recently pumped large sums of money into the TV programming and movie production sector. Government money provides 80 percent of grants for new material. Broadcasting heads of TV stations provide the other 20 percent.

"We want the grants so we can make movies and shows which are relevant to the Christian message," Thiessen Jr. said. "Programs that are getting viewers on the journey to being saved is what we want to show. In the past, we've been frustrated by the fact that most government dollars aren't accessible to Christians."

Willard Thiessen envisions Now TV eventually being broadcast coast to coast. It will be available via satellite within a few months, he said.

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