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I Used to Make Fun of Pat Robertson Until This Happened…My $139,000 Story

making fun of Pat Robertson

I know this article will sound crazy, but it’s all true…and I hope it blesses you.

Seeing the news about Pat retiring from The 700 Club today reminds me of a story I have only shared with a few people…until now.

I showed up on the doorstep of Regent University in the summer of 2002 to embark on a Master’s degree in Cinema/Television.  

Regent is the graduate school that Pat Robertson founded in the 70’s. It’s located on the same campus where The 700 Club is filmed. It was common to see Pat driving around campus…I saw Jay Sekulow on a regular basis. I picked up Ben Carson one time from the airport. I produced a student film with Pat Morita (Mr. Miyogi). Mel Gibson showed up to screen his movie The Passion of the Christ before it was released in theaters. Peter Engel, the creator of Saved By The Bell was even the Dean of my school.

Producing a student film with Pat Morita in 2003.
With Peter Engel, creator of Saved By The Bell in 2004

I was not a big fan of Pat Robertson at the time. 

I don’t really know why, other than he was old and seemed a little kooky. I was an Al Franken fan…Franken had impersonated Pat Robertson on SNL in the 80’s.  He was an easy target. And in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken picked apart Robertson’s “words of knowledge” segment where he prays live on The 700 Club television show and shares information about the people he’s praying for. On campus, it was easy to make fun of Pat, the old guy.

Graduation from Regent, 2004

I graduated in 2004, degree in hand, ready to conquer the world. I left Regent for Louisville where I got a job producing television news for WLKY-CBS.  My salary was $13,000. “Is this what I went to school for?” I thought.

My 2004 staff photo from WLKY

After about a year, I switched jobs to start work doing video production for Southeast Christian Church, the 4th largest church in America.  It was a great job, with really great people…but my starting salary was only $29k per year and it didn’t take long to realize I was in big trouble.  I had $72,000+ in student loan debt and couldn’t afford the payments. I was literally eating Ramen.

 

My Southeast staff name badge from 2005.
A picture from a Michael W. Smith concert at the church I worked at.

6 years passed…

I had worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. I spent almost every waking hour at church. I volunteered to work on as many extra things as I could. I networked with more people than I can count. I attended meetings with hundreds of people…it was a busy season of life.

Me on the cover of the church newspaper in 2007.

But, I had come up short. I was still eeking by. Everyone else seemed to have nice million dollar houses and brand new cars – beautiful families, fashionable clothes, dream vacations, the newest iPhones and gadgets…one day I even saw a huge boat parked in church staff parking lot…

This isn’t the actual boat…but this is the closest thing I could find that it looked like. It was NICE!

“What am I doing wrong!?” I shouted to myself. “I want a boat too! But I can’t even afford new underwear!”

Obviously, I was never going to pay off my debt if I didn’t do some side work. I tried everything, but it all seemed to flop. I lost $11,000 trying to put on a ministry conference with my friend. I spent $10,000 publishing a book that flopped. I broke even on a $9,000 Tim Hawkins event. I had an idea to put on an event called “Louisville Success” in the legendary Palace theater downtown and feature the most famous Christian people from Louisville sharing their testimonies. I had Denny Crum, the famed basketball boach…Pat Day, the Kentucky Derby winner… Wesley Korir, the winner of the Boston Marathon, and more. The event cost $29,000 to put on and I would have lost everything had it not been for two local Christian businesses that bailed me out (Drexler Plumbing and Bachman Auto Group…thank God for them wherever they are). The harder I tried, the more people at church I upset and the more money I lost.

Scribble Session Youth Ministry Conference lost $11,000.
Louisville Success cost $29,000 to produce and broke even.

I was finished.

I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide from the world. “How could I be so stupid?” I thought. “Why was I even trying?”

At then at that exact moment, the worship leader on staff gave me a good undressing and said I didn’t belong in ministry and that I should have never even been given my job. That wounded me more than anything I’ve ever experienced. I cried my eyes out. The executive pastor (who drove a Porsche) chewed me out, too. Urgh. I was obviously not understanding how I was supposed to work for peanuts and pay off my student loan debt at the same time.

I secretly wished I would get shot, hit by a car, or die in my sleep.

Then…

A man who worked for Pat Robertson randomly showed up at the church. 

He took me out to lunch.  I explained my problem.  I loved working in ministry, but was drowning in debt.  So much debt that I never thought I would have a real life.  After lunch, in the church parking lot he stopped me from walking and said “I want to pray right now that your student loans and all your debt would be taken care of.”  No one had ever been that kind to me. He proceeded to pray exactly that.  I thanked him.  He left and I’ve never seen him since.

Immediately after that prayer, I was asked to resign, which is a fancy way to say I got fired. 

“Ha!  A lot of good that prayer did.” I scoffed. 

This sent me into a deeper depression.  I could barely get out of bed.  I honestly wished I was dead. I had worked so hard, and sacrificed so much time and money serving in ministry. And, now I was being cast out, a complete failure. Six years wasted.

The morning of my last day of work, I decided to go in late.  I turned on The 700 Club for some reason while I was ironing my clothes and drinking coffee.

I NEVER watched The 700 Club. I don’t think many 32 year old guys were watching.

Pat began to pray.  He proceeded to say (as best as I can remember),

“There’s someone serving in ministry who has been really treated poorly and is being forced to leave their job.  You’ve really been drug through the mud. God has better plans for you.  Don’t worry about anything.  Everything is going to be okay. ”

Pat Robertson’s word of knowledge

My jaw dropped.

How was this possible?

I knew they were always praying for people’s health issues. But, this was totally different.

I got teary eyed. Did Pat just prophesy about me?

Suddenly, I had total peace about everything.

I went to work with a bounce in my step. I was happy and I didn’t even know why. I had a strange reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

Here’s where it gets even stranger…

24 hours later, I had $17,000 in my bank account.  6 days later, I had $139,000 in my bank account.

No, Pat didn’t deposit money in my account.

What had happened was something so crazy, you can’t even make it up.

You see, I payed $50 to have a website made to sell some of the resources my friend and I had made for Children’s Ministry over the past 6 years.  The website went live at NOON on my last day of work.  I wasn’t expecting anything to happen.  I figured I should at least try one last thing before I would be forced to move back home to live with my parents.

The #1 blogger for Children’s Ministry shared a blog post about the deal. Over 1,300+ people ordered from the website in the first week. I had absolutely no idea that my new company would be launched into the stratosphere a few hours before I finished my last day!

Poof!  Long story short, I wrote a check for $72,000, the entire amount of my student loans and wrote checks to pay off all the other debts I had. 

My old boss Steve Young visited my office to celebrate my success.
Jenny was my first full-time employee. I would have never made it without her. She helped me pack all the boxes and answer all the emails.
This is Tricia. She and my CPA Dan helped me get my business off the ground and helped keep it organized. Without them the business would have only lasted a few short months.
God brought all the right people to help make it a success. Here we’re doing a video shoot with Louisville actor Perry Thomas. Rachel was my customer support person. Christina and David Kuo helped make all of our videos.
Duncan, my roommate from a trip to Israel became my operations manager. Sara, my co-worker at church helped make all the promo videos for my ads. I paid $300 a month for this creepy space in a basement before we moved into a real office building.

I was 100% DEBT FREE!

The prayer the man had prayed for me in the parking lot set into motion events that would change my life forever.

And, Pat’s word of knowledge for me was right. Everything really was okay!

Legendary preacher Bob Russell (with Chad Russell) helped me grow the business in 2011.
My first company Christmas Party in 2011, with Dave Stone, senior pastor at Southeast Christian Church

I began to support CBN after that. I received DVDs and CDs in the mail with teachings from Pat and his son Gordon, that helped guide me through the first few years of building my business. One particular CD I received from Gordon actually inspired me to move far away from home to spend time in solitude for a year. After I did that, the business exploded even more.

In 2012, I used some of the company money to help resettle a refugee family from Myanmar to Louisville. Nine years later, they’re thriving. They have 4 awesome kids, own their own home, and have built a great life in America.
Murugesu had never used a vacuum cleaner before. Actually, they had never had a toilet, running water, stove, microwave, refrigerator, or anything else before either. I’ll never forget teaching them how everything worked. They were amazed.
For the first time in my life I was able to buy my dad crab legs for Father’s Day.

Thanks to wisdom I learned from both of them, my company was a huge success. I celebrated over ONE MILLION orders, and in 2018, Salem Media bought my company and I retired from working for money.

The lessons were clear. Never give up. Trust God. Keep moving.

With Eugene DePorter. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to reconnect with old staff from the church I worked at.

I’ve had people contact me wanting to know how they can replicate my success and get rich. The only problem is this isn’t a story about making money or getting rich. This is a story about being faithful day in and day out for over a decade. There’s no hack or secret sauce.

And, I still drive a Honda. I don’t own a boat, and I live in a small apartment. But, I do have new underwear…finally!

I Was Wrong

I’m embarrassed that I was judgmental of Pat…and that I used to make fun of him, like so many other people do. God forgive me. God forgive everyone else, too. They have no idea how faithful Pat has been, how wise he is, and how much work he has done helping people around the world.

Anytime I mention Pat Robertson, people make jokes. They fail to remember Pat is 91 years old and has been on television for 60 years. He even won the Iowa primary for President of the United States! None of us would have ever made it! But, he did.

I’m so thankful that I took a leap of faith to attend Regent in 2002. And, I’m so thankful for that man from CBN who showed up to pray for me. And, I’m so very thankful for Pat and Gordon Robertson’s hard work and passion for reaching the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Well done Pat.

Pat’s final broadcast on The 700 Club

Article written for Stuff Christians Know by Nevan Hooker

Nevan Hooker Israel

Nevan graduated from Regent University in 2004. He built a publishing company that was acquired by Salem Media in 2018. He is now a full-time investor who lives in Las Vegas with his dog Arizona.

5 Comments

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  1. Nevan, this was just what I needed today. Your mom has meant so much to me and my walk with the Lord and it was so awesome that she took the time to speak at my dad’s celebration of life. I just shared this article with my CBN colleagues.

  2. A great reminder to share Christian love, not hate (like you wrote about in your “Christianity’s 10 dirty…”). It’s soooo easy to try and tear others down for x or y reason, or even no good reason. And even after non-denominationalizing, sometimes it’s still no easier not to hate on the practices of other Christian splinters (especially ones that have hurt me). Thank you for blessing me with this post.

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