It was 2001 and Gary Saunders had a problem. He wanted to watch the morning news but needed to be at work at 6 a.m. So he set up a computer server in his house, used the cable TV signal, and streamed it across the Internet to his work computer.
When he showed his friends this clever setup, one of them gave him some dusty VHS tapes that contained sermons and asked Saunders to put them online. Saunders stored the material on his home server, which he connected to his friend’s ministry Web site, where viewers watched it on demand.
This was the beginnings of a ministry God was leading him to start—one where people would be drawn to Christ through technology.
Saunders met Damian “Chip” Dizárd, the founder of a Web design company called Absolute Presence, through other friends and relatives, and helped Dizárd at a technology and Internet seminar.
Web developer Terrance Bowen was also doing a workshop at the seminar. In 1999, he launched Bowen Web Services, and helped many Adventist conferences/churches in the northeast United States develop a Web presence. He knew Dizárd, and got to know Saunders.
The three young menbecamefriendsdecided to expand Saunders’ sermons-on-demand idea to include live streaming. Their plan: Saunders would secure church clients and set up the streaming process, Dizárd would design the Web sites, and Bowen would develop the infrastructure and program each site.
They launched Praizevision.com (the “s” had already been taken) on February 1, 2005. Soon they started producing programs in addition to streaming them.
To handle the 32 churches Praizevision stream from coast to coast, they added two partners—Levon Hannah and Travis Tramel. There are also other church members in various places who support the ministry.
Records show that just over 419,000 unique viewers tuned in from around the world last year. From South Korea, Kuwait, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand to Germany, Jamaica, Trinidad, Argentina, Canada, and France, people of all ages and cultures are drawing closer to Christ through Praizevision.
This amazing ministry came from one young man’s desire to watch the morning news. God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. What things are you doing that God can use?
—Adapted from the article “A Portal for Praize,”by Celeste Ryan Blyden, on pp. 24-27, in the Feb. 25, 2010, Adventist Review