The nation's first Christian television network marked 50 years in ministry Monday.
Founded by Pat Robertson, the Christian Broadcasting Network was incorporated on Jan. 11, 1960, and began broadcasting nightly half-hour programs in October 1961. Robertson estimates that some 500 million people have come to Christ as a result of the global television ministry.
"You look back over 50 years and you think, 'look at what God has done,'" Robertson said in a statement. "It's just been beyond belief. He's a great God."
Now one of the largest television ministries in the world, CBN reaches 227 nations and sits on 700 acres in Virginia Beach, Va. Its flagship program, The 700 Club, launched as a telethon in 1963 when Robertson went on the air and asked 700 people to give $10 a month to support the ministry.
It began airing dailyÂ in 1966 and featured special guests, music and call-in prayer requests. The program now reaches nearly 1 million viewers each day with a mix of interviews, news and Robertson's often controversial political commentary, which increased after his failed presidential bid in 1988.
In addition to the broadcast ministry, Robertson founded Regent University in 1977, the relief organization Operation Blessing in 1978 and the American Center for Law and Justice based in Washington, D.C.
In a message posted on the ministry's Web site, Robertson, 79, said "only the Lord knows" what the next 50 years hold. "But I feel that as long as there are hurting people in this world who hunger to know Jesus, CBN will be reaching out to them with the love and compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ," he said.
Robertson serves as chairman of CBN, and his son, Gordon, became the network's chief executive officer in 2007.
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