I was impressed – and puzzled. Michael Guido and his wife Audrey had just taken my wife Pam and me on a tour of their headquarters in the little farming town of Metter, Georgia. Word processors, printing presses, recording rooms, tape libraries. . . I knew the value of the building and equipment had to be at least a million dollars.
“But,” I said, “if you and Audrey had only a hundred dollars to begin with, and if you made a vow never to ask for money, and if you’ve never tried to sell anything, how on earth did all this happen?”
Michael Guido smiles a lot and he was smiling now. “Let me tell you a true story,” he said. “One time years ago when Audrey and I were in California we were coming back from San Jose, where I had given a church talk, to Los Angeles. The motel in San Jose had cost more than we expected, so we had no money left. None at all. We had enough gas to get to Los Angeles, but nothing for food.
“I said to Audrey, ‘You know, in the 23rd Psalm it says I shall not want. But here we are wanting. Why don’t we ask the Lord for ten dollars. You close your eyes and pray, and I’ll drive and pray, and we’ll ask Him.’
“So Audrey closed her eyes and prayed. A big trailer-truck coming up from behind roared past with a blast of air that rocked our little car. ‘What’s that?’ Audrey asked a bit nervously. ‘Just a truck,’ I told her, ‘going too fast.’
A couple of miles down the road the truck stopped right in the middle of the highway. We had to stop too. The trucker, a big, burly fellow, got out and walked back toward us. He motioned us to open a window. Somewhat apprehensively, Audrey opened hers a crack. ‘I don’t know you people,’ the trucker said, ‘and you don’t know me. We’ll probably never meet again. But when I passed you just now, something told me that you needed money and that I was supposed to help. Here!’ He pushed a crumpled ten dollar bill through the window and walked away.”
I stared at Michael Guido. “Are you saying that all this-” I waved my arms inclusively- “came into being because you prayed for it?”
“That’s right,” said Michael. “Whenever we need anything-anything at all-we ask the Lord for it. Did you notice that bulletin board in the corridor, the one with the sign above it saying, ‘Ask and ye shall receive?’ Whenever we need a wheel-barrow or a tool-shed or a copier we try to find a picture of the item in a newspaper or a magazine. We cut it out and pin it on the board. Every time Audrey and I or one of the staff walks past that board we say a prayer asking that our need be met. It’s great fun a week or a month later to take the item down because the petition has been granted.”
Prayer power, I was thinking. We all hear about it and read about it and try to use it. And yet, when we encounter an example of it that defies all the laws of probability we’re astounded. Astounded because it’s working the way it’s supposed to work.
I had first become aware of Michael Guido through a one-minute television message sandwiched into a morning news program. Every day Michael would come on, silver-haired and smiling, in a peaceful setting of pine trees and flowers. Invariably he began with a disarming little joke:
Six-year-old Johnny asked his mother, “Are we really made of dust and do we go back to dust when we die?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“Well, Mom,” he said, “I looked under the bed this morning and found someone who’s either coming or going.”
Then Michael Guido would add a few words about the importance of God’s transforming power in our lives. Very gentle. Very low key. But persuasive.
“You know,” I said to my wife one day, “I like this fellow. He’s about the only person on the air who uses humor to attract people to a religious message.”
“What impresses me,” Pam said, “is that he never asks for money. Not ever.”
“Well,” I said, “he must get it from somewhere. Color TV programs are expensive to make. I wonder how he does it.”
“Metter is only about an hour from here,” she said. “Why don’t we drive up there and find out?”
Paula loads tape onto the audiotape duplicator
So we did-and what we found out was astonishing because the television program was just the tip of the iceberg. Working as a husband-wife team in a little town of 3,500 people, aided by a staff of 12 enthusiastic young helpers, the Guidos were producing a steady stream of radio tapes-one minute, five minute, fifteen minutes spots-which they were supplying free of charge to hundreds of radio stations across the land. Some of the tapes were being broadcast regularly by powerful stations that penetrate the seven continents of the world.
They were also being used on the Armed Services Network of 800 stations around the world. “We figure,” said Michael quietly, “that either directly or via satellite we reach some ninety million homes anywhere from one to eleven times daily.”
In addition Michael was writing a weekly newspaper column-camera-ready copy mailed without charge-for over 1200 newspapers. He was also writing booklets, pamphlets and devotional materials which were printed in-house and distributed-again with no charge-to a mailing list of about 25,000 people. In print or on the air the basic message never varied: it was that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that those who accept Him in their hearts will find eternal life.
“You should be here when the TV crews come twice a year to film our ‘Seeds From The Sower’ programs,” Michael was saying enthusiastically. “In four days we make 200 of our little messages. There are about 20 people in the crew and Audrey feeds all of them. She starts out every morning by scrambling fifteen dozen eggs, and…
“Wait a minute,” I said. “I think you’d better go back and start at the beginning and just tell me how all this happened.”
“Glad to,” said Michael, “but you’ll have to remember it was all the Lord’s doing, not ours.”
He was born, he said, in Lorain, Ohio, where his father was a section foreman on the B & O railroad. It was a warm, close family, full of love and laughter and music. “A lot of teasing, too,” Michael said. “I remember my father used to make me play my violin whenever a certain chatterbox neighbor came to call. I finally asked him why. ‘Because,’ he said, ‘it’s easier than asking her to leave.’”
While he was still just a youngster, Michael became leader of a local band. They played at dances, in nightclubs, even in burlesque shows because the Depression was on and everyone was struggling to survive.
This career came to a sudden halt when he found himself walking past a revival meeting in Lorain. On impulse he went in “just to see what was going on.” But when the preacher asked people to come forward and surrender their lives to Christ, Michael was among them. After that, everything was different.
He decided to go to Bible school and become an evangelist himself. He had almost no money, but nobody else had much either. “Once, I remember, I was embarrassed because my only pair of shoes wore out. My toes were coming through. I didn’t think the Lord wanted my feet appearing in public like that, so I prayed. ‘Lord, I’m Your child. Please give me a pair of shoes.’ Soon after that a man I hardly knew said to me, ‘I have the strangest feeling that I’m supposed to buy you some shoes.’ He took me down to a Thom McAnn store and bought me a pair for three dollars, a lot of money in those days. I knew then that the Lord was aware of all my needs and would take care of them if I just trusted Him.”
After Bible school Michael did a lot of traveling as a religious speaker. One day in the little town of Metter a friend said, “There’s a girl here you ought to meet. Her name is Audrey Forehand, and she’s as bright and pretty as a new dime. Going to be a doctor; she’s been offered a scholarship at Johns Hopkins. You ought to know, however, that she’s an agnostic.”
As soon as he met Audrey, Michael knew that he didn’t want to live without her. They argued passionately about religion, though. One day Michael asked her to read aloud the first verse of the Fourteenth Psalm, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God…” “When I did, she gave me a stern look. She said, ‘Are you calling me a fool, Michael Guido?’ ‘Honey,’ I said, ‘I think the Lord beat me to it, don’t you?’ Well, she finally accepted the Lord, gave up her medical plans, and married me.”
Audrey wanted to be a helpful partner in her husband’s work. She didn’t sing, or play a musical instrument, so she decided to become a magician, using the tricks and illusions to gain people’s attention and help Michael win them to Christ. They traveled all over the country, living out of suitcases, making friends wherever they went.
Then one night in 1957 on the road between Metter and Atlanta a small truck pulled suddenly out of a side road. There was a terrible crash. When Michael staggered out of the wreck he saw Audrey lying on the ground unconscious, hands crushed, face terribly lacerated. Doctors thought her injuries might be permanent, but with an out-pouring of prayer and the skill of some splendid surgeons eventually she recovered.
While in the hospital Audrey found that there were almost no religious radio programs worth listening to. The conviction grew that the direction she and Michael should take was into a radio ministry.
They knew almost nothing about broadcasting, but they learned that people responded to short, anecdotal messages with a touch of humor along with the religious element.
Newspaper article about the gift of land “We had to start somewhere,” Michael said, “so when the Mayor of Metter offered us a lot on the edge of town we decided to build a small studio. We only had a hundred dollars, so we started praying. Shortly after that a friend died in Colorado Springs. The widow called and asked me to conduct the funeral. Then she added, ‘What are you praying for these days?’ We told her. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘just before he died, my husband said to me, ‘If Michael and Audrey Guido ever need anything, be generous to them.’ She said she would give us what we needed to build the studio: $16,000.
“Now we needed an architect to draw the plans, so we started praying about that. A few nights later a young man knocked on our door. He was a pilot who happened to hear one of our radio broadcasts while flying his plane.
It helped him, he said; he just wanted to thank us. Then we learned he was also an architect. He agreed to design our studio and draw the plans for nothing. And he did.”
Michael laughed gently to himself. “You see, that’s how it works. We tell the Lord what we need, then somebody comes along and offers to give it to us. The way the gifts match the needed money is really amazing. When we began to need more space here we prayed about that…and thanked the Lord in advance for His help. The next day a letter came from a woman we didn’t know who lived quite a distance away. She said she had problems she wanted to discuss with us, so we drove over to see her. She was living in an abandoned store. It was raining hard, I remember; there were buckets all around to catch the leaks pouring through the roof. he woman’s dress looked as if it had been made from flour-sacks. We tried to help the woman with her problems.
Then she began to talk about us. First she said she thought we must be rich. No, we said. ‘Then you must be subsidized somehow,’ and she insisted. ‘No,’ we said again. ‘Then how do you do all you do?’
the building of the studio”); ?>
We said we prayed about it, and added that we were praying for an addition to our building. We said nothing about cost. She didn’t say anything either, but a few days later a check arrived from that lady for $26,000. Overjoyed, we asked for bids on the addition. The lowest bid came in at exactly $26,000. I could go on telling you such stories all day.”
I said, “Tell me one or two more.”
“Well,” said Michael, “there was the time we needed $10,000 to pay for three days filming of our TV messages. We didn’t have it, and the deadline got closer and closer. Our board thought we should borrow the money, but I said no-we were praying and the Lord was listening.
“One week before the deadline a farmer in a nearby county asked us to dinner. He lived very modestly. His farm seemed pretty rundown. When he asked us what we needed I told him about the television deadline and even mentioned the amount we needed because I was sure it was miles beyond anything he had. He gave me a quizzical look and said, ‘The other day I sold a bunch of hogs. Got a better price than I figured.
“Haven’t deposited the check yet; it’s right over there on the mantel. Now when I asked you what you needed, I said to the Lord, ‘If Michael says he needs exactly $10,000-which is what that check is for-I’ll give it to him. But if he mentions any other figure I won’t give him anything. So…’ he walked over and got the check… ‘here it is. Go on with your TV shows!’ ”
“It’s astonishing,” I said. “How do you deal with skeptics?” “Oh, I don’t deal with ‘em,” Michael said. “Sometimes the Lord does. A young student from Georgia Southern came to see us one day. Very skeptical about everything, especially our bulletin board of prayer requests. One of those requests was for a tabletop folding machine that we needed. ‘You really think you’re going to get that?’ he said scornfully. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I know I’m going to get it.’ Just then the phone rang. The call was from a good friend of ours, Truitt Lively, over in Houston. ‘What are you praying for these days?’ he wanted to know. I told him about the folding machine. ‘Oh, I can take care of that for you,’ said Truitt. ‘Just a minute,’ I said. ‘Would you mind repeating that to a young man sitting here with me?’ I passed over the phone. I tell you, the Lord really has a sense of humor. You should have seen that youngster’s face!”
“You and Audrey must work very hard,” I said. “How do you spend a typical day?”
Lila at work in the front office “We’re up at 5 a.m. or 5:30 every day. We have our devotions, then I usually walk the dog while Audrey puts the house in order. Around 7:30 I go across the lawn to the studio and walk through the rooms, praying for each staff member who will be working there during the day. The staff comes in at 8:00, and we have a prayer session until 8:20 because we receive many prayer requests. Then we go to work. Audrey handles all the business side of our operation. I spend the day writing booklets, items for the column, and scripts that later become radio or TV programs. I also try to find time to preach at various churches in our area and teach a Bible class or two.
“Somehow our ministry seems to keep growing. Our latest venture is a free lending library of Bible studies on cassettes. We’ve also started a Dial-a-Prayer ministry. Costs keep going up-our yearly postage bill is more than $60,000, but as I’ve tried to explain to you the supply never runs out.
“It’s a rigorous schedule, but I love it. I haven’t had a vacation in years because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had one. Audrey feels the same way. Sometimes I think the reason we had no children was that the Lord wanted us to be free for the work we’re doing.
“I often think how amazing it is that the Lord could take a former band leader and a former agnostic pre-med student and guide them to the point where there is literally no place on earth beyond the reach of the messages they’re trying to give. That message is the gospel, the ‘good news’ that Jesus Christ told us to spread throughout the world.”
“Over the years,” I said, “you’ve made hundreds of prayer requests and had hundreds of answers. If you had to choose, which response would you say made you happiest?”
“I think they all did,” said Michael, “but if I had to choose I think it might be the one that made it possible for us to build a little glass-and-cedar prayer-chapel in our garden. That chapel is never locked. It’s open to all people at all times. I remember Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and his wife Ruth came down to help us dedicate it. This past Christmas, outlined with colored lights, it was part of a Nativity presentation in our garden that attracted visitors from all over the nation. We had about 250,000 Christmas lights, and the displays ranged from seven-foot angels flying around to a world-globe with our outreach traced on it and a depiction of the Sower scattering the seed of the Gospel over all the earth. We kept the whole thing going for over a month. Admission was free. We never charge people for anything anyway, but this was the birthday of our Lord, and so it was very special.”
“You make it all sound almost easy,” I murmured.
“No,” said Michael. “It’s not always easy. But basically it’s simple. Have faith, believe, love, pray and work and-as the Lord Himself said-nothing shall be impossible unto you.”