Dressed for the camera in a copper-toned silk-brocade jacket, a calf-length brown skirt, and brown pumps, Dare to Dream Network general manager Yvonne Lewis entered the 3ABN studio and strode over to program guest Blondel E. Senior. After briefly reviewing the schema for her interview with Senior—director of an Adventist-run facility for troubled boys called Advent Home—she moved aside so the stage manager could attach a lapel mike to Senior’s suit coat. Lewis’s mike was fastened next, then she and her guest positioned themselves for conversation in two plush, gray microfiber chairs set on a 12-inch-raised platform. A backdrop depicting a nighttime city skyline set the stage for the program’s recurring theme: inner-city lifestyle challenges. A cameraman signaled a five-second countdown, and the cameras began rolling. Then looking directly into the camera lens—and with a smile and a wink—the program host greeted her viewing audience:
“My name is Yvonne Lewis,” she said, “and you’re watching Urban Report.”
Dare to Dream is a recent addition to the program lineup of Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), headquartered in a rural region of West Frankfurt, Illinois. Launched on the Internet in November 2010 and on satellite January 1, 2012, the viewer-supported urban network has made significant strides in making itself known and creating a noticeable impact on its viewing audience. General Manager Yvonne Lewis, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in social work, says the network’s practical approach is hitting home.
“The focus of Dare to Dream is to share the gospel message, as well as provide practical tools for tackling relevant, contemporary issues—and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Lewis says. “We target inner-city residents, primarily African-Americans and other minority groups, with programs that deal largely with everyday challenges. If you look at the statistics, poverty is disproportionately high in inner cities, more than 33 percent of African-American men are either in prison or supervised by the court, and 60 percent of African-American boys that drop out of high school will be in prison by age 30. Our goal is to reach people ‘where they live.’ ”
The number of biblically based regular programs addressing the problems of crime, substance abuse, poverty, family erosion, and health that were aired this year, together with those in the planning stage, is 19—an impressive total for a small network still in its infancy.
A program in the making that Lewis is particularly excited about is A Father’s Heart. Using a reality-based format and hosted by a pastor who grew up in a single-parent household, A Father’s Heart is designed to provide answers for men who want to be good fathers, but because they’ve never had appropriate role models in their own lives, they just don’t know how.
“In the African-American community more than 70 percent of the children are born out of wedlock,” Lewis notes. “Single-parent homes are the dominant home life afforded to these children, and it’s usually the mother who’s the parent that raises them. So a lot of young men have no clue about what it means to be a father, because many of them didn’t have fathers involved in their own lives. They don’t know what to look for, what to do. . . . The reality-based format will allow viewers to see where the young men live, some of the decisions they make, how they interact with their baby’s mother, and how they’re going to involve themselves in the dynamics of parenting.”
“The father is critical to the well-rounded development of the child,” she adds. “We can’t overestimate his importance.”
Lewis’s involvement with the urban network didn’t happen by answering a “Help Wanted” ad. Instead, she believes it was providentially arranged.
In 2010 Lewis was a guest on 3ABN promoting her book GREAT DAYS: Nine Principles to Revolutionize Your Life. Following the show, 3ABN cofounder Danny Shelton and she began discussing their concerns regarding the challenges faced by inner-city residents. During a subsequent conversation, Shelton told Lewis that he felt impressed that she should head up the new urban network.
“It was just like the Bible verse that says, ‘God will do exceeding abundantly, more than you could ask or think,’ ” Lewis says. “I was just amazed! I had no idea that I would be working here. I just came to talk about my book.”
This wasn’t the first time, however, that Lewis believes God directly intervened in her life.
A third-generation Adventist raised in the church, Lewis for a time drifted away from the Lord when she got caught up in the music business. Although she was a trained social worker, music was her passion. She decided to become a professional singer—and was successful. She was hired to do jingles for several well-known products, and sang with such celebrities as Whitney Houston, Patti Austin, and Quincy Jones.
“I was enjoying my life,” Lewis says, “but even though I had not totally left God, I knew something was missing. Then one day my grandmother said to me, ‘We’re getting a new pastor. Why don’t you come to hear him?’ I did, and from that Sabbath on I had to be in church! I was learning so much. It was a deeper, richer experience, because now it wasn’t a vicarious experience. I was meeting God for myself; really knowing Him for myself.”
In 1985 Lewis was rebaptized. She soon left her singing career behind and began studying health care and healthful living. Eventually she felt led by God to write the book GREAT DAYS, an acronym for nine health principles, which led to her 3ABN interview.
“Had I not written the book as God told me to do, I would not now have the best job I’ve ever had in my life,” Lewis says. “God is so good!”
Ultimately, Lewis says, Dare to Dream Network is positioned to strengthen local churches.
“If we all work together, we can build up the churches,” she says. “We want pastors and church members to know that we’re here to help raise awareness of this message God has given us, and to generate growth in the local church. We see this as a partnership.”
“We also solicit ideas for programming,” she adds. “A lot of churches are doing creative, innovative things in their communities that others would benefit from learning about. We’re very open to hearing these new ideas.”
Dare to Dream programs currently can be viewed via the Internet, satellite, and Roku, but Lewis hopes they will also soon be aired on cable television.
“My dream, by the grace of God,” she says, “is for that teenage boy or girl or that young, single mother to be able to turn on their television set, see a Dare to Dream program, and say, ‘What’s that about?’ . . .
“To be able to come into people’s homes via the television set, that’s what we’re striving to achieve. And I believe God’s going to make a way for that to happen.”
Dare to Dream 24/7 streaming-video programming can be viewed at d2dnetwork.tv, via the 3ABN Web site at 3abn.org, or via Roku. For more information, call 1-800-752-3226, extension 3031.