By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
NASHVILLE, TN (ANS – March 5, 2016) – Gordon Robertson had everything going for him. The son of CBN’s Pat and Dede Robertson, Gordon graduated from Yale University in 1980 and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Washington and Lee University in 1984. He practiced law in Norfolk, Virginia, for 10 years.
But then he experienced a “Damascus Road” experience, like that of the Apostle Paul, during a short-term mission trip to India in the 1990s, and that resulted him Gordon resigning from his law firm and moving with his family to the Philippines in 1994, where he founded CBN Asia.
In an extraordinary interview at the recent NRB 2016 Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Gordon told me what had occurred in that life-changing event.
“I had a remarkable experience on the Godavari River [the second longest river in India after the river Ganges]. There I had a revelation, a ‘Damascus Road’ event where God called me, and I heard his audible voice. It was just an amazing time. Words can’t describe what happened that night at the Godavari river. If anybody has ever had a visitation like that, an open eyed vision, it changes you. You don’t have the vision; the vision has you.
“I saw Jesus and He appeared to me in the middle of a Hindu festival, and He wanted to show me a whole other experience. I was both at the festival and not at the festival, if that makes any sense. I didn’t know if I was in my body anymore. Eye hasn’t seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for us.
It’s an amazing thing once you’re there you want to stay there. Part of that was a call for me personally. I went on a fast in this little Indian village and just went on a journey, trying to understand what this all meant. The Lord first of all brought me into Acts, Chapter 17, and got confirmation that what I’d seen was in the Bible. I needed to have that and to know that this is real and it wasn’t some false thing.
“And then got further confirmation of being called into ministry from the call on Ezekiel’s life and I also got further confirmation that it was going to be so incredible that I wouldn’t believe it, and so I just had to go on with Him and I got that from a verse in Hosea.
“I quit being a lawyer, packed up everything and everyone and then I had a series of dreams about the Philippines and within three months I was in there as a missionary and I soon started the Asian Center for Missions [ACM], which has got 862 missionaries in the field today and is dedicated to sending Asian missionaries through the world.”
[ACM is now the largest missionary agency in the Philippines with more than 2,000 graduates trained in cross-cultural missions].
In 1996, Gordon started CBN Asia’s flagship television show, the 700 Club Asia, which is now one of the longest-running Christian television shows in the Philippines and is distributed by satellite around the world.
Also in 1996, CBN Asia started a humanitarian organization, Operation Blessing Philippines, which was recognized as “NGO of the Year” by the Philippine government.
Following the model created in Manila, Gordon also started CBN centers in Indonesia, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Beijing in 1998 and 1999.
So, with so much going on in Asia, why on earth did he make the “huge decision” to return to the United States in 1999?
“There were a series of prophesies about this, one in India, and another here in the United States, and then dad picked up the phone and said, ‘It’s time for you to come back.” I didn’t want to return, and it was a real grieving process because so many things had been launched in Manila that are still going on to this day. I didn’t see how they were going to be protected and even if they could survive. There was a moment of doubt, with me doubting the power of God. So I had to get through all of that and it’s been a real great lesson.”
Things began to work out for him and on December 1, 2007, Gordon and was named Chief Executive Officer of CBN, and prior to becoming CEO, he was the vice president of CBN International, the executive producer of The 700 Club and a member of CBN’s board of directors.
Millions now see him on TV as he co-hosts CBN’s original flagship program The 700 Club, as well as 700 Club Interactive, a daily show airing on ABC Family. Gordon oversees all aspects of programming for the ministry in both television and on the Internet.
He is also the executive producer of Superbook, the reimagined animation series, whose mission is to bring the stories of the Bible to the children of the world. The new Superbook has been broadcast to 118 million viewers in 75 countries.
Gordon has also produced award-winning special programs such as Temple of Heaven, filmed in Beijing, China, in 2002; the three-time Emmy-nominated documentary called Made in Israel in 2013; and The Hope: The Rebirth of Israel in 2015.
During our interview at the CBN booth, I discovered that Gordon had just been appointed to the NRB Board of Directors, and was also introducing delegates from around the world to Superbook.
“We now call it Superbook Classic,” he explained. “The original version was done back in the 1980s for Japan, and then went around the world. This is a whole new vision of it reimagined, updated animation and storytelling techniques, and this is our launch year explosion, and already we’ve seen huge audiences around the world and now we want to see huge audiences here in America.”
Like many sons who follow in the footsteps of a famous father, I wondered how Gordon saw his role today with such a high profile dad as Pat Robertson, who once ran for President of the United States. He said, “I don’t view it following in his footsteps, as I have to carve my own way. God has prepared good things for me to walk into, and has created good things for me that will satisfy the desire of my heart.
“I don’t have to strive for that as He’s already made it for me. All I have to do is discover it. So I am just going on a voyage of discovery. He knows what He’s doing and I just need to follow Him.”
I then asked Gordon Robertson what the current vision of CBN, and he replied, “We want the gospel to go out to every nation and on every screen. Superbook is a key to that. We are going into digital apps, into Facebook, and seeing how can we use these wonderful new tools to preach the gospel.
“We were innovators in broadcast and cable television, then innovators with desktop, but now we are working on how we get into this whole new mobile world; and we are learning how to use these tools to reach people.”
How does his father react to modern technology?
Gordon smiled and said, “He used to be very proud of the fact he’d never turned on a computer I’m now very proud of the fact that I got him to do that and he now has a tablet that he uses every single day.”
Gordon and his wife, Katharyn, reside in Virginia with their three children.
A personal note: It was on the 700 Club many years ago that, in an interview with Sheila Walsh, the then co-host with Pat Robertson of the show, that I first announced the launch of ASSIST. Later CBN came and filmed a documentary of my life and journalistic work for persecuted Christians. Also, through my friendship with Stuart Bennett, then with CBN and now an ASSIST Board member, we were able to launch the “Bridge of Friendship” pen pal ministry. This was after a huge number of people from the then Soviet Union had responded to Christ through a TV show co-hosted by Barry Taylor, a founding board member of ASSIST, called “What Are You Living For?” and directed by Stuart Bennett.
Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.
Picture captions: 2) Gordon Robertson 2) Indian Hindu pilgrims offer prayers as they perform rituals in the Godavari River. 3) Gordon Robertson teaching on Biblical Forgiveness on CBN. 4) Poster of Gordon Robertson’s Made in Israel documentary. 4) Dan Wooding with Billy Graham in Essen, Germany.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is Mary, My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary (http://marythebook.com). He has been a full-time journalist now since 1968 when he began his career in London, becoming Chief Reporter for The Christian, a Billy Graham-owned UK newspaper, and later worked as a senior reporter for two of the UK’s largest-circulation newspapers, the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror.
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