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90 Years: SWRC Ever Looking Ahead

Southwest Radio Church of the Air began in April 1933, when Dr. E. F. Webber, pastor of a local church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, preached a prophetic message over local radio station, KTOK. His radio program was his radio church—thus the name, Southwest Radio Church. As storm clouds of war began to rise over Europe and Asia, Dr. Webber was convinced that the world was entering the last generation.

Indeed, Dr. Webber had come on the scene “for such a time as this,” to use the words of Esther 4:14. Dr. Noah Hutchings, who led the ministry for more than half a century after the passing of Dr. Webber, wrote As It Is in the Days of Noah: “No one, as far as I know, has done more for the cause of Christian communications than Dr. Webber, even though he never got the credit. Dr. Webber nurtured new radio ministers and led the way to take the Gospel around the world by radio and television. I still meet many of our senior citizens who say they were led to saving faith in Christ by the ministry of Southwest Radio Church and Dr. Webber.”

A few years earlier, in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles put an end to WW I—“the war to end all wars.” The development of aerial warfare, the amazing accuracy of long-range artillery and a new and ghastly way of killing people with poison gas, led many to believe that war never accomplishes anything positive and must be outlawed, perhaps by some trans-national body.

Germany was not only defeated, but was enraged. 

In the war years, Woodrow Wilson had become convinced that world peace would be impossible unless there was an international organization of nations. Wilson  was one of the original  creators of the  Covenant of the  League of Nations. Yet, the fiery speeches of Adolf Hitler led to the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 (a violation of the treaty), which was virtually ignored by the Allies. This gave German militarism a green light for development and expansion.

It was in this era that Southwest Radio Church began. It was a time of emerging world government, new theologies and higher critical theories that undermined the credibility of the Bible, fundamentalist push-back against attacks on the Bible and the cardinal doctrines of the faith, developing communications technology in the form of radio, and the growing desire to form the modern State of Israel that created a need for this ministry. 

As I look back at world history, I do believe that in many ways, Southwest Radio Church was God’s answer to an increasingly end-time situation that challenged people to be “Watchmen on the Wall.” Quite appropriately, our ministry verse is Isaiah 21:6: “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” What do we see?

The Next Generation

Upon Dr. Webber’s home-going in 1959, his sons David and Charles became the ministry watchmen, stepping up to the microphones at SWRC. They, along with their mother, Lelia, were the voices of the five-day-a-week Gospel-based program, and Rev. Hutchings—or “Hutch” as he was fondly called—wrote scripts, until Charles’ untimely illness sent him home to be with with the Lord in 1964. Then Hutch and David Webber were the on-air “faces” of the ministry, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees at their appointed times.

Rev. Hutchings carried on after David Webber retired from SWRC in 1988. Then in 1998, Hutch was joined by a young pastor named Larry Spargimino. A few years later, E. F. Webber’s grandson, Edward Webber—who had grown up with his father, David, at the ministry—joined the staff. Rev. Hutchings and I even performed Edward and wife, Kim’s, wedding ceremony. After years of coordinating conferences, the WATS Room,  and overseeing the mailroom and warehouse, Edward is now director of operations, while Kim coordinates our human resources and finances. We are truly family.

Wise Warnings

Southwest Radio Church has always believed and taught that limited government under the final authority of Almighty God is the ideal. 

William Penn articulated an eternal principle when he said, “He who would not be ruled by God will be ruled by tyrants.” The progressives and purveyors of “wokism” are not ruled by God, and they are tyrants. Nowadays, if you don’t use the preferred pronoun, you could be fined heavily.

Billions of people are ruled by tyrants who hate God. Man, the rebel sinner, claims ultimate authority for himself. The government is his nest. The people his prey. All who profess belief in God are the enemy.

Through the years of broadcasting, Southwest Radio Church has warned listeners and readers of the “spirit of Antichrist” that seeks to first undermine our confidence in the Word of God, destroy the family, and rob Americans of our God-given freedoms.

We are not a political organization but we do believe that elections have consequences and that we dishonor the men and women who died in battle to maintain our freedoms if we neglect to vote. 

President Reagan’s warning is equally timely today:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom they have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well-thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

A Blessed Hope

The first-century church believed in the imminent return of Christ, possibly during their lifetime. The Apostle exhorted the infant church in Thessalonica to consecrated living in view of that coming. Not only had they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” but they learned to “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead” (1 Thess. 1:9–10). 

You will never find any scripture telling the church how to dodge the Antichrist and where to build your bunker so the Antichrist and his troops won’t be able to locate you. Nor are we told to stockpile food for seven years so we can survive without taking the mark of the Beast. 

Christians have a blessed hope not a blasted hope: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Pre-tribulational rapturists believe that Jesus could appear at any moment. What happens if you take this certainty away? Urgency becomes complacency. “Yes, I know Jesus is coming. But I will have at least three and a half years before He comes.” “Yes, Jesus is coming for me, but nothing is going to be a surprise. I have a list of events that have to happen before Jesus returns.”

Southwest Radio Church wants to encourage people everywhere to remember that the time is short. We should be urgent in our witness, in our worship, and our work. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump …” (1 Cor. 15:52). 

We’ve been saying this for 90 years. Should the Lord tarry, we will carry on. “Jesus is coming!”

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Larry Spargimino

Dr. Larry Spargimino is co-host of the SWRC broadcast and joined the ministry in 1998. Larry researches and writes books and articles for the ministry, assists on tours, and helps answer listeners' theological questions when they call the ministry. Larry holds a doctorate from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and pastors a local church.

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