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Our History... a two minute missive by Kerry Robinson

 The seed of the Thought For Today foundation came from the “Dial-A-Prayer” service – which had disappeared from the front of the White page telephone directory in the late 1980’s.

I know people like to get a touch of something “Christian” from time to time – even if it is quietly when no one is peeking. Their quiet moments searching for some spiritual enhancement - perhaps.

In any case – it had disappeared and I wanted it back. So I contacted White Pages folk, found it was not coming back ever – and got them to release the logo associated with Dial A Prayer. Armed with that I then created a list of pertinent “Scriptures” and linked them to a comment. Each set being between 180 to 210 characters long so it would fit in an allocated space in a newspaper.

I also found one of the folk who initiated the original Dial A Prayer. So please allow me a paragraph or two to acknowledge the initiators. Pastor Ernie Steed and a his mate were pastors in the Seventh-Day-Adventist Church. They came up with the idea and approached the “Post Master Generals” department to make this service available via the phone lines.

 The only automatic talking service back then was “George” the talking clock. Remember this? “At the third beep – it will be four, thirty-six and fifty seconds --- beep – beep - beep. At the third beep etc.”

To make a long story short – these blokes knew that would get a “NO” so they actually invented the machinery to deliver a “Dial-A-Prayer” and presented it to the PMG. My point is that these blokes didn’t come up with a whinge – they came up with a solution. That type of initiative is worth applause. {If anyone knows the name of his mate – please contact me so I can update this page. I think it was Walter something or other.}

The last time I spoke with Ernie he was in Florida trying to retire. He joked that he “wasn’t retired – he was retreaded.” He was an older man then but still young in aspect and full of life. He was an inspiration to me and those who would listen. I got his blessing for the revitalisation project and got to work.

Then what? I got the Christian Business community and some supporters to fly, feed and rent me a room around Australia. In each city I visited the editor, shook

 the hand, sat eyeball to eyeball, shouted him or her a pub lunch when necessary and showed how a “positive influence” was a good thing for their paper. Without exception they were impressed that the CEO was sent to meet with them. They all had their horror stories about idiot “Christians” but – do not we all? They got a fair deal, were able to let off steam, I got a fair hearing and the community got a positive influence. Every body came out a winner.

The result? In 1996 the Dial-A-Prayer name was returned to the Seventh-Day-Adventist church but the activity of placing a positive influence in newspapers was moved into a tax exempt foundation – the “Thought For Today” foundation. In 1997 we had achieved 1,905,096 Scripture impacts each week in the newspapers of Australia. Since then the “Thought For Today” content is now being used Internationally and the number of weekly impacts has to be well into the millions.

The price? It’s free to you but someone somewhere pays. That’s why we ask folk to be a supporter in some practical manner. There are no fancy heart breaking guilt tripping

 strategies for this. Just a bland ask. If you reckon this is worthwhile – then send some paypal funds, clean out your change drawer, write a cheque or trust us with a credit card via fax if need be. My ask? All I ever ask is that folk be part of the solution – because it’s better then whinging about the problem.

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Dial a Prayer TFT Logo

 PS: This is the original “Dial-A-Prayer” logo. Beside this is the “Thought For Today” logo. It features the interrobang. A printers mark from the 1940’s. Yes – it was on typewriters of the day. ‘Tis a punctuation mark recognised by many editors – and a part of the press heritage which I commend to budding journalists of all media. It is still around today. Font = Wingdings 2 “right square bracket”

PPS: I am an approachable CEO who sets time aside and enjoys a chat. I believe in the “common wisdom”. My skype ID is christianresource and I welcome your comments.

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