Haven Today is the daily radio program—broadcasting on more than 600 stations in North America and around the world—that tells the Great Story all about Jesus and how he relates to everyday life. Anchor is its daily devotional guide that features brief Scripture selections together with current insights and experiences woven into a few short paragraphs each day. Full of Christ-centered content, sign up to get this free email devotional as a great way to begin or end your day.
How did your career as a broadcast journalist, UPI bureau chief, and press secretary to two US Senators prepare you to host an international Christian radio program?
Charles Morris: I became the speaker for Haven Ministries (@HavenToday) at the tail end of 1999. It was the beginning of a new millennium, and I was taking over as my friend, the late Ray Ortlund, retired. By that point, Ray had already changed the name of the ministry from “The Haven of Rest” to just “Haven” because people kept on calling in thinking we were a crematorium or retirement home!
Then 9/11 happened. Up to that point, we were like all Christian radio programs and recorded the daily broadcast weeks in advance. Thanks to the leap in digital technology, we were able to change the program at a moment’s notice, and I knew we had to speak gospel comfort into a dark day in America’s history. Within minutes, I was on the phone with my old friend Tim Keller who was on his way out the door to do what he could to encourage his New York congregants, some of whom perished in the World Trade Center.
Changing the program on a dime forced us to think about our ministry in a new way. My time as a journalist prepared me well for fast paced production that changes as news happens. So we began recording the program only a day before broadcasting so that we could speak into current events.
Our name went from just “Haven” to Haven Today, and we haven’t turned back since.
Explain your focus of “Telling the Great Story that’s all about Jesus.”
Charles Morris: As a seminary student in Philadelphia, my family and I began attending a church led by the late Jack Miller. Jack would always say, “Cheer up: you’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” This message changed my life, my marriage, and the way I read the Bible. And it shapes everything we do at Haven.
The gospel changes how we live each day. And Christians need to hear the gospel by faith every day. You see, this message of salvation in Jesus is more than just something we’re supposed to believe. God wants us to experience it every day. And that’s what we try to do with every single broadcast, hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the Great Story that’s all about Jesus.”
How did Haven Ministries begin? And what impact did The Haven of Rest radio broadcast have when it launched in the golden era of radio?
Charles Morris: In the early 1930s, Paul Myers was drinking his way through job after job at many of the major Los Angeles radio stations. His life was spiraling out of control and his alcoholism had even forced his wife to kick him out of the house, but she continued to pray for his salvation and recovery. Now homeless, Paul was turned away from a San Diego church service because of his repellent and drunken appearance, so he went back to his cheap hotel and started reading the Gideon Bible in his room. As he read, he was convicted of his sin and found forgiveness in Jesus. One month later he was back on the radio, but this time as a broken man saved by grace. From then on, he went by the name “First Mate Bob.”
Beginning in Hollywood, Haven’s early impact spread up and down the West Coast and, eventually, across the country. Listeners tuned in as First Mate Bob delivered a message of peace and hope which was, as it remains today, all about Jesus. And of course I can’t neglect to mention one of the key factors that shaped Haven’s history: music. Every Christian radio program in those days had their own in-studio quartet, and the Haven of Rest Quartet was routinely known as one of the best. And that’s not just my opinion!
Here’s some early footage we recently found in our archives that gives a tour of the old Haven of Rest studios in the Good Ship Grace in Hollywood—a building that still stands today as a national historic site. In the video, First Mate Bob leads us through what went into producing the broadcast in those early days.
What is the Anchor Devotional and why should people sign up to receive it?
Charles Morris: Like everything we do, Anchor Devotional is a daily devotional that is all about Jesus from every page of the Bible and every part of life. Its purpose is not to be a list of 31 rules for holy living. Rather, every page tells that the greatest story on earth is all about Jesus, and the mercy and grace found only in him.
Our writers come from all walks of life. Some are school teachers, parents, ministers, authors, musicians, or seminary students. Some of the most moving issues were written by prisoners who found redemption in Christ behind bars.
Thirty-thousand copies of the print edition of Anchor go out monthly to readers whose life circumstances are varied. Some are elderly and may be disappointed with life. Others are young and idealistic. Some have limited education; others are professionals. Some are spiritually mature; others are untaught in the Word. Some have been reading Anchor for years; others are new, their only encounter with Christianity having read a copy of Anchor in a doctor’s office, in a beauty shop, or on Haven’s website.
What role does the Bible play in the Haven Today radio ministry?
Charles Morris: Scripture plays a pivotal role in everything we do at Haven. From the very first words of the Bible, the foundation for all of human history is laid out: creation, the fall of humanity, and God’s promise to redeem us from the curse of sin. Our goal is to do more than teach a moral lesson. We want to point to Jesus in all of Scripture because he told us in Luke 24 that the whole Bible, from beginning to end, is all about him!
We often begin a week of programming with an interview with a well-known author, singer, or minister of the gospel. But that always leads us to Scripture, which always leads to Jesus. For example, we recently had Mercy Me’s Bart Millard and movie director Jon Erwin on our program talking about the song and movie I Can Only Imagine. This story of Bart going on a journey to forgive his abusive father led us to do programs on fatherhood in Scripture and how, in spite of the shortcomings of our earthly fathers, we can find love and security in the arms of our eternal Father who we know through Jesus.
This led us to talking about John 10 and Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and the Bible Gateway Bible Audio App?
Charles Morris: Bible Gateway, whether online or on the App, is an invaluable resource for everyone on our team. I still bring my large study Bible with me wherever I go—I still love analog resources! But it’s often Bible Gateway that’s there for me when I need to incorporate God’s Word into a broadcast. I’ve also heard from members of our team who say they use it multiple times a day to find the verses they need for life and work.
Bio: At the turn of the new millennium Charles and Janet Morris packed up and moved to California, leaving behind the dream home they built at the base of Pikes Peak in the Colorado Rockies. They had been asking the Lord to use their communication skills in a front line way for the kingdom when the phone rang and Charles was called to become the fourth speaker on an 80-year-old Christian radio program based in Los Angeles. Charles had journalistic experience on radio, TV, and with UPI, but no file drawer full of sermons. So with a background in Bible teaching and leading women¿s retreats, Janet joined her husband in helping write the daily messages. Haven Today airs on 600 stations with 500,000 listeners. Together Charles and Janet have co-authored Missing Jesus: Find Your Life in His Great Story, Saving a Life: How We Found Courage When Death Rescued Our Son and Jesus in the Midst of Success. Charles and Janet have three children and three grandchildren.
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