Describing himself as “a natural born geek”, Henry Ponco has always been attracted to technology.
“One time, I even taught my teacher how to use his brand-new digital camcorder!” he laughs. “It was a very high-tech thing back then!”
While designing a new website for his church (Gateway Adventist Centre), Henry heard that Gateway was inviting international speakers to do evangelism training for the church members. He faithfully recorded each session, believing the training would have greater impact if it could reach a larger audience. He then posted the videos on the new church website.
“That might seem like an obvious thing today,” says Henry. “But this was 2006. YouTube barely existed!”
People began downloading the videos by the hundreds! He began getting warnings from the website host about using too much bandwidth.
“I saw a need for a website dedicated solely to Adventist videos,” says Henry. But as a student, he didn’t have the financial means to begin a media ministry.
In 2008, Henry had just finished a Bible working program with Pastor Mark Finley and was now working in IT for AdventCare in Nunawading (Victoria). Freshly inspired to share the gospel, Henry again thought about the possibilities of starting a media ministry.
“I still don’t have funding,” he reasoned. “And I don’t know how to do it.”
But nothing is impossible with God.
A family member who never remembered Henry’s birthday happened to remember this one (June 2008). His relative surprised him with the equivalent of three month’s wages, tax-free. Henry knows this money was a blessing from God because this relative has never remembered his birthday since!
He didn’t know anything about videos on demand. Then his boss asked him to do the necessary training to complete a work project.
Henry was convicted. God was calling him to begin his ministry. [pullquote]
Once his project was completed, Henry resigned and started two different websites. Beyond Patmos (beyondpatmos.org) is suitable for any audience and contains recordings of baptisms, testimonies and evangelistic programs. Rightly Trained (rightlytrained.org) is specifically for Adventists looking for training resources.
“I want everybody to be able to access these materials for free,” says Henry. “I operate on a budget so that this can happen.” There have been days where Henry has gone without food or savings to keep his ministry going. But God has always provided.
“A pastor repaid money he owed me,” reminisces Henry. “He had no idea that I didn’t have any money at the time. When I needed a reliable car to transport my equipment, I had people knocking on my door to rent my roof for mobile phone antennae. They offered me just enough to afford the car. And did I mention that by some miracle, the videos for this website are hosted by the world’s fastest network?”
In the first year of Henry’s media ministry, 51,504 videos were watched and 14,226 were downloaded. In 2017, Henry’s statistics jumped significantly to 1,263,735 videos watched and 54,829 downloaded.
Currently his website visitors come from around 11,000 cities and more than 200 countries.
“Use what you already have,” advises Henry. “When I use what I already have for ministry purposes, God always multiplies it.”