Early Monday morning, Dec. 17, 2007, I checked my e-mail. I scanned the subject lines and noticed one that read, "Re: Interview Request—From Alan Colmes."
I knew who Alan Colmes was because I have watched Fox News and the Hannity and Colmes show. Previously, when watching their show, I felt uneasy for the person they interviewed. I realize that this is media business, to keep shows interesting so people will stay tuned to watch the commercials and buy advertised products.
So I opened the e-mail message and read the following, "Hi Mr. Aust, Alan Colmes is very interested in interviewing you on his national radio program to discuss the history of Christmas. Could you please contact me at this number to discuss, or let me know where I could call you? Thank you, Sr. Producer, The Alan Colmes Show."
My first thought was, "This is bogus." So I printed it and asked my wife, Mary Ann, to read it. She, too, had a surprised look on her face that I must have had on mine. We agreed that the way to establish whether it was bona fide was to call the number.
The voice on the other end was cordial. He said that Alan Colmes wanted to interview me as the author of the articles on Christmas. I thanked him and said I'd get back with him. When I called back, we discussed our options. He had an opening on the following Friday evening or he could schedule me for Tuesday, which would be the next evening.
I opted for Tuesday evening, although that gave me only one day to prepare. I knew my material since I had written about Christmas in previous issues of The Good News and had done much more research than I would ever use. The thing I didn't know was the questions that Mr. Colmes might ask.
I asked the producer what kind of questions Mr. Colmes might ask me about Christmas. He said he didn't know except it would be about the history of Christmas, about my articles on Christmas, which they had already read, and that the interview would be conducted in conversational style. He also reassured me that he didn't expect it to be confrontational.
Sleepless in Alabama
I had difficulty going to sleep that night, and after I did, I had difficulty staying asleep. I awoke early. I kept rehearsing potential questions in my mind and the answers that might make sense and be of help to the listeners.
I prayed a lot about the interview. I printed and reread the articles I had written about Christmas in the 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2007 issues of The Good News magazine, since those articles got their attention and were the specific articles they read.
Then I created some talking points that I felt might be relevant to the interview. I also formulated some possible questions and prepared short answers to them. Immediately in front of me, I had a note written that read, "This is not about you. This is about God, Christ and His Church." That helped keep me focused.
Some of you listened to the subsequent interview. I appreciated the very positive calls that we received during the program. I prayed that God would give me the answers that He would want me to give. I know that the prayers of the brethren helped a lot.
The interview lasted for 26 minutes, but it was only scheduled for about 10 minutes originally. They changed their time allowance because the program was going well.
Since that interview, the senior producer of the show has indicated they would keep in touch; he said it was "a fascinating interview."
I've received about 150 positive e-mails from all over the world and dozens of encouraging phone calls. They were terrific; I thank you for them! Some few e-mails came from people outside United who read our literature, and a few from outside the United States.
Many of the e-mail messages said they appreciated the noncondemning and noncompromising approach, such as when I responded, "We present the Bible facts; they decide." It came to me that Mr. Colmes might appreciate a variation on their Fox News slogan.
I was grateful that Mr. Colmes permitted me to point listeners to www.ucg.org, www.gnmagazine.org and our booklet on holidays and Holy Days. He also gave permission for us to add the interview to our www.gnmagazine.org Web site.
It's exciting to see how God opens doors in unexpected ways. For my part, I give the credit to God for the interview and its potential impact (Isaiah 55:11 Isaiah 55:11So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
American King James Version×). UN