By Rick Kern
In 2019 Mars Hill Network (MHN) will celebrate half-a-century of sharing the heart of God with countless people in central and northern New York State through radio ministry. Signing-on March 19, 1969 with WMHR in Syracuse, their anthem was, and 50-years later still is, “To God Be the Glory.” And while God raised MHN up at a strategic time as they caught the cresting cultural wave that history has christened as “The 60s,” they have remained on message and pure of heart. Consequently, against today’s tenuous backdrop of trending scruples and a moral landscape built on shifting sand, the only thing about MHN that has changed over the past five-decades, is that they have gone deeper into the heart of the God they love.
“Our vision really is to reach people — number one is to reach Christians to really encourage them to grow in Christ,” declares Wayne Taylor, General Manager of Mars Hill Network, “and to grow the knowledge of the Word of God.” He adds, “To be more encouraged and motivated to spread the good news to people and to live a good Christian life to be a light in their community.”
Taylor continues, “Secondly, on the same level to come to know and meet Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that really is just as important. We love to see people get converted as they accept the Word of God and the Holy Spirit convicts and leads them to the cross — we hear those conversations all the time.”
From one lone station dedicated to Heaven and the Gospel, today MHN shares the Word of God via six full power radio stations and some sixteen-translator stations in different parts of New York. Their reach extends heavily into the state’s North Country and even into Canada. “We just thank God that He opened a lot of doors for us in the North Country,” says Taylor, “so we are up there broadcasting.”
In fact, in 1983 when they moved into Watertown, New York, MHN got a surprise — a band of like-minded brethren across the St. Lawrence formed a group called Mars Hill Radio Canada. “We are thankful to Mars Hill Radio Canada,” Taylor reflects gratefully, “and since that time they added a number of other stations along the boarder — we call them boarder stations up in Malone, New York which serves Massena and Cornwall in Ontario, Canada. So, we’ve got quite the coverage area with our friends from up along the northern border — they support us, and we are thankful for that. I’ll share some Canadian news on our newscast to help serve them.”
While MHN is clearly a Christian radio station and a ministry, in describing their essential sub-genre Taylor explains, “Format-wise we’re conservative Christian. Our music has not been like what you’d call ‘hotter contemporary,’
although today we do air contemporary Christian music but it’s a little bit subdued.” Continuing he adds, “I would say family, caring, and love is what characterizes Mars Hill. But we do have a niche — that place for Bible teaching programs, so a good portion of our broadcasting is some of the best teaching in the country.”
For many of us the bulk of our spiritual nourishment comes from our churches and Christian radio is a supplement, but there are people for whom the ministry of MHN is more than a supplement — it’s a lifeline. “We have a number of those who listen in prisons,” Taylor notes soberly. “There are a number of prisons in New York and we reach through the walls a lot of those prisons — we get letters from inmates who appreciate the broadcast.” He adds, “They really depend on the teaching of the Word of God through Mars Hill, it is training them through their daily life while they’re incarcerated. We appreciate that.”
Mars Hill Network has made a profound impact in the hearts of all its “hearers” throughout the last 50-years. “We’ve seen a good portion of letters, emails, and phone calls from people saying how God has ministered through the ministry of Mars Hill,” reflects Taylor. “We’ve seen people who are believers who have tuned-in since day one in1969. They’ve been listening since 1969 and we’ve been just a part of their Christian experience — they love the ministry and listen to us on a regular basis daily.” He adds, “It’s become a source of teaching and encouragement and inspiration for them and then of course we’ve heard from people who’ve come to know the Savior through listening to Mars Hill.”
Half-a-century of ministering through radio is an amazing achievement, it’s a “Golden Anniversary” and MHN is celebrating with a spring banquet and an autumn, 2019 event. Taylor notes, “We have planned Dr. Erwin Lutzer coming in the spring for a banquet — we also run his programs.” He adds, “We have Steve Green coming — he’s somebody who has been with Mars Hill before. We don’t air as much of his music as we used to, but Steve has always been a great concert for us. We’ve asked Steve to come to our 50th anniversary for us in the fall 2019.” Continuing he explains, “We are looking at a couple of other guest speakers coming but they’re very difficult people to get. We’re waiting to hear from these very well-known preachers that we have on but we have not have had those confirmed yet.”
“Our Mars Hill slogan refers to Mars Hill as, ‘Your Daily Bible Connection,’” Taylor explains, “for 2019 we’ve made it, ‘Mars Hill, 50-Years Strong.’”
And strong it is, in the Lord and the power of His might — and should He tarry, then by His grace MHN will continue another 50-years or more. “As long as the world needs the Gospel, and until the Lord says it doesn’t, we are here to preach the Word of God,” says Taylor emphatically. “If radio becomes obsolete Mars Hill would find alternative ways to preach the Gospel. There is a real commitment to see that the Gospel gets proclaimed.” To God be the glory!