Gordon Robertson grew up in the Christian television business. He remembers watching his father, Pat Robertson, pursue his God-given vision to spread the gospel through TV even when it seemed everything was against him. He watched his father preach on air and even witnessed healing miracles on set.
But Gordon Robertson says he never truly encountered miracles for himself until he went to India. Now he sees numerous salvations and miracles each year through CBN Asia, which he founded in 1994 with his father.
In my exclusive interview with Gordon Robertson for my "In Depth With Stephen Strang" podcast, I asked him about his past, what it was like to grow up with Pat Robertson as a dad and how God gave him a vision to reach Asia with the gospel. (Listen to the full interview by clicking here or scrolling to the end of this article. And click here to subscribe to my podcast.) Robertson tells me it all started with a prophetic word.
"John Gimenez from Rock Church called me up one day and said that he had a dream about me, which I thought was unusual," Robertson tells me. "I was occasionally going to church, but I wasn't following God at all. And John knew that. I had been talking with John about some of my struggles. ... He said, 'I had a dream about you. You're supposed to go with me on a mission trip to India.'"
When Robertson heard that, he laughed to himself. After all, he was a successful lawyer. He had recently made partner and was chairman of his firm's real estate section. According to every worldly standard, Robertson had it all, so the prophecy sounded ludicrous.
But because Robertson couldn't bring himself to tell Bishop Gimenez there was no way he was going to India, he simply said, "OK, John, if you can get the visa, I'll go."
That was Thursday afternoon. Gimenez was set to leave Monday morning for India, so Robertson thought there was no way he could get his visa approved in time for him to join the bishop. But God proved him wrong.
"I didn't know ... [Gimenez] had a visa-expediting service," he says. "He had already planned it out. He was just waiting for me to say yes."
When Robertson received his approved visa Friday morning, he knew he had to go to India with Gimenez. When he arrived, the poverty, the scarcity of technology and the lack of the knowledge of God hit Robertson in the face, as he describes it.
"But the one thing that really changed me was seeing idolatry firsthand," he says. "I saw an Indian woman, probably in her 60s, get on her knees and bow down before a stone cow and offer up incense. ... The prayer of anguish that came out of this woman was [proof] she's not just doing a ritual. She earnestly hopes this stone cow can answer her prayer."
At first, Robertson was furious. How could this woman, who was made in the image of God, bow down to stone in the image of a cow? Then Robertson heard a voice coming from behind his right shoulder: "No one has ever told her."
"That broke me," Robertson says. "I couldn't be mad at her. I couldn't challenge her. All I could do was love her in that moment."
That trip awakened Robertson's passion for the Lord. Instead of going home as soon as he had planned, he stayed three weeks to go on a preaching tour in Indian villages.
"God had to teach me a few things along the way," he says. "And [He had to] teach me about miracles. It's one thing to grow up with miracles, grow up with faith, grow up with CBN and to see as a spectator. It's a completely different thing to experience it firsthand and be the one who is praying and believing and receiving. ... I like to tell people, 'God doesn't have grandchildren. He only has children. And you need that direct revelation yourself.'"
As soon as Robertson returned, he resigned from his law firm, went to see his father and then got on another plane to Manila to start his work in Christian TV.
As a teenager, Robertson saw the power of media—and the power of preaching the gospel in a cultural group's native tongue. While ministering to Filipino prisoners, his evangelistic group played a testimony in Tagalog, and every prisoner stood up to say they wanted Jesus in their hearts.
"So we went there initially to start Asian Center for Missions ... but along the way, and kind of accidentally, CBN Asia started, and Dad sent me out with a curious message," he says. "The message was, 'Gordon, sometimes people get in the Bible just by begetting someone. You don't have to go off and do great things just to beget someone.' And I didn't know how to interpret that. And when I got to the Philippines, I realized, because I grew up watching CBN birth, I knew how to create a TV ministry. I knew the necessary things."
CBN Asia officially launched on Oct. 1, 1994, and it took the team two years to get a TV show fully in Tagalog on the air. But as soon as that show launched, Robertson says, it was a huge success. Robertson says CBN Asia just kept growing from there, and the results have been astounding.
"In 1994, 90 percent of our audience was in the United States," he says. "Here we are, [and] 90 percent of our audience is outside of the United States. ... We see in the U.S. from the phone center 60,000 to 80,000 salvations a year. From our internet activities, you can add another couple hundred thousand. But [for] our international broadcast, our largest audiences are India, Nigeria, Philippines, Indonesia [and the] Republic of Congo. ... There's just tremendous hunger for the gospel."
Robertson says the key to mass salvations is praying the salvation prayer on the air. That's something his father has always done on CBN, and his son now follows suit. And although TV can help save people, Robertson says you need a pastor for discipleship, so CBN is careful to refer new converts to local churches.
Another project that is making headway in Asia is CBN's Superbook series. Based on the original Superbook show in the 1980s, this new series contains the same biblical elements and gospel messages but showcases up-to-date animation.
"The idea was 'Let's introduce the plan of salvation in 13 episodes,'" he says. "And now it's grown to ... 46 or 48 episodes now in 44 languages. And it's taking the world by storm. People love this. We just did a survey ... in the Philippines—and I've never heard of numbers this large and neither has Ipsos—70 percent of the population in the Philippines knows about Superbook."
Robertson says that large number has to do with distribution, as Superbook plays on one of the top channels on Saturday and Sunday morning. But people are also drawn to the authentic portrayal of Scripture. Robertson says the company is careful to have characters speak in Bible verses, create landscapes authentic to the latest archaeological research and teach messages true to Christian theology.
As he watches what God is doing in Asia and in the U.S., Robertson believes God's people must continue to cry out for mercy on our land.
"We need to call down mercy on America," he tells me. "So let's pray. Let's pray that we can be one nation under God, indivisible, because the divisions are getting big. And we need to—now more than ever—we need to pray."
To listen to my full conversation with Robertson, click on the podcast below!
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