By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS – July 26, 2017) – Many of you have so kindly sent your congratulations for me being honored with a top “Humanitarian” award at a major film festival on Saturday for my long-service on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world.
I was privileged to receive the “Spirit of Love & Peace Award” on the final night of the “2017 Love International Film Festival” that took place on July 22, 2017, at the historic Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California. I was able to share with the large audience about how God changed my life, from a tawdry tabloid journalist, to become a “voice” for persecuted Christians.
In a letter to me from the film festival organizers, I was humbled to read, “The Festival board is pleased to present this award to you for your inspiring achievements and work as an award-winning journalist and humanitarian.”
What made the event so special for me, was that the award was presented to me, before a large crowd drawn from the Hollywood entertainment community, by my younger son, Peter Wooding, who was over on a vacation from the UK with his family, and is himself a respected TV journalist in Great Britain.
He was joined onstage by Lance Wilder, a top artist from “The Simpsons” TV show, who shared about our long friendship.
Before making the presentation, Peter, who is now the London Bureau Chief for the Global News Alliance, read out a message to myself from veteran entertainer, Pat Boone, in which the former teen idol said, “Dan, dear brother, behind your back, and occasionally to your face, I call you ‘Apostle Dan’, as in the Apostles Paul and John and Peter, in the Bible.
“Why? Because these others are recognized and honored ‘apostles’– or ‘messengers’ — of the Gospel’, which means, and is, Good News.
“And that’s always been your specialty: Good news. Not sensational, or criminal, or critical, or morbid or salacious. Not slanted or biased or political… but instead, factual, objective, uplifting, commending, even inspirational… but unfailingly GOOD NEWS.
“You’re always searching for the best in people and their activities and projects… not the embarrassing, or titillating or morally questionable, although that would attract readers. No, you look for and report the stories of people and events that underscore the better sides of our natures and our efforts to make things better for others.”
After Peter had handed me the award, I was able to share a little of my story with the large audience packed into the famous theater. I explained how I had previously worked as a tabloid journalist in London, England, and that life was a “mess” with lots of “drinking” and “I had all but lost my Christian faith.”
I went onto say that it “all changed” one night, when he was “drunk as usual” a friend came into the “Stab-in-the-Back” pub (just off London’s Fleet Street) and challenged me to get his life turned around, quit his career in the tabloids, and go with him to Uganda to write a book about the eight-years of terrible misrule by Idi Amin and his “thugs” who had just fled the country, but had left behind him a trail of terror in which some 500,000 were slaughtered, many of them Christians.
“I knew I had to change,” I said, “so I did what Ray had suggested, re-dedicated my life to Christ, and then, shortly afterwards, I walked out on my job as a senior reporter on the Sunday People, went to Uganda with Ray, where we researched and later released a book called ‘Uganda Holocaust.’ While there we met so many of the survivors of the slaughter, and they deeply impressed me. They weren’t famous, nobody knew of them; they didn’t have a Hollywood PR person to make them known; yet they just silently continued with their lives with such dignity and faith.
“At the end of that life-changing trip, I made a decision that I wanted to spend the rest of my life, being a ‘voice’ for those who didn’t have one out to the world, and were being persecuted, not only in Uganda, but all over the world, including hot-spots like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Syria.
“And this is what I’ve been doing ever since through my broadcasting and journalism. I knew that I had to become a ‘voice for the voiceless’, and I’ve never regretted that decision for one moment.”
At times, it has been extremely dangerous to do this kind of work. Like the time I was arrested and imprisoned in Lagos, Nigeria, the land of my birth, or when the hotel I was staying in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, was attacked with a car bomb in the parking lot that blew out all of the windows on the one side of the hotel.
Possibly North Korea was the most hazardous country to have reported from, when I spent a week traveling throughout the secretive land sending back radio and print stories to the world. After what happened to US student, Otto Warmbier, I probably should have been more careful in my reporting, but at the time, I wasn’t thinking of my personal safety.
When Norma and I first started the ASSIST News Service some 25 years ago, it was because we wanted to be that “voice” for the millions who don’t have a way to speak out to the world, but were suffering in silence.
We also decided never to charge for our news service, but provide it free to all who cared about our persecuted brothers and sisters. We also agreed that none of our wonderful team of writers (including myself) would receive a regular salary, but instead trust God to move friends like yourself, to help us continue with your prayers and financial support. We call ourselves, “Media Missionaries.”
Paradoxically, at this time of celebration, we at ASSIST, find ourselves extremely low on the funds that we need to cover our monthly expenses, like phone, Internet, travel, and other items that are needed to keep our global news service going.
So, I would like to ask you to become a “voice for the voiceless” by playing an important role in keeping ANS going. You can also become that “voice” by sharing our stories with your friends and colleagues, and by personally talking about the stories you read about on ANS that feature our courageous brothers and sisters in places like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Syria, and many of the dangerous where they live.
Please all talk about our stories at your church’s prayer meeting, so that you all join together in lifting them up before the Lord.
You can also join hands with us, so we can continue our vital work with a generous donation. All you have to do is go to www.assistnews.net and then scroll down the page to where it says DONATE TO ASSIST NEWS and put in the figure that God has laid on your heart to donate. If you prefer a check, just make it out to ASSIST and mail it to: PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609, USA.
By doing so, you will join me as a “voice” for the “voiceless” and and show that you truly care about their dire situation, which often means that that face, not only terrible suffering, but also possible death for following Jesus Christ. We can’t let them down.
So once again, a huge “thank you” for all your kind messages, and I thank you in advance for joining our support team with a gift that will allow our work to continue.
You may not know that ASSIST stands for Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times, and by giving at this time, you will be aiding these “Special Saints” in what many consider to be the most “Strategic Times” we can remember. When you dig deep with a gift (tax-deductible in the US) you will not only being helping us at ANS, but also the people we write about each day.
Photo captions: 1) Dan Wooding with his award. 2) Dan Wooding with Michael Little from CBN with a North Korean soldier at the DMZ. 3) Dan and Ray Barnett by a river in Uganda where Christians were fed to the crocodiles. 4) Dan in a prison cell in Nigeria. (The photo was smuggled out after Dan was released). 5) Norma and Dan Wooding, seen working together, have been married for 54 years. (Photo: OC Register). 6) Peter Wooding presenting his father with his award.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, 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 54 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). Dan is also the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and a weekly radio show called “Front Page Radio,” all based in Southern California.
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