“And we know that all things God works together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
All things really? I have lost track of how many times I have asked that question while going through a very difficult situation. And yet, I keep asking it, despite the fact God has shown me repeatedly, as St. Paul explains so beautifully in his Letter to the Romans, how some of the biggest heartaches and challenges have turned out to be in the end beneficial and in some cases even life-changing.
A “Romans 8:28 Moment” wasn’t exactly on the minds of the Catholic management at 1060 WQOM in Boston when they embarked on their “Try God” billboard campaign that began in July and runs through Sept. 22. More likely than not a few other verses might have been more appropriate such as Mark 16:15 where Jesus tells his disciples to “go into the entire world and preach the Gospel.” Or maybe Matthew 10:27 where we are encouraged to proclaim what is whispered in our ear “from the rooftops.” But Romans 8:28?
And yet that verse pretty much sums up the recent experience, according to Station Manager Chris Kelly. Kelly joined me on my radio program a few days after WQOM’s billboard along the Massachusetts Turnpike had been defaced. Instead of reading “Try God: 1060 AM Catholic Radio,” the defaced billboard said, “Try God: The Other White Meat.”
Kelly explained it was sad to see that someone would deface the billboard and its positive message encouraging people to explore their relationship with God. In a written statement he added, however, that soon WQOM, part of the Station of the Cross Catholic radio network in Boston and New York State, began to see what Kelly referred to as the silver-lining or, shall we say, the “Romans 8:28” moment.
“This act, however, is an indication that the “Try God” billboard campaign is attracting attention and making people reflect on the role of God in our lives.”
For starters, the act of vandalism was obviously a sign that the message was striking a nerve. No one goes through that much trouble unless, they are, well, troubled by the message they are trying to dilute. So, the wheels are at least starting to turn. Secondly, the vandalism garnered a great deal of attention from concerned Catholics, other Christians and a long list of local media outlets. The media coverage helped introduce the station and EWTN to many who never knew there was such a thing as Catholic radio.
And given that Catholic radio survives on donations, the bad news turned into more good news as many residents not only called the station to express their concerns for the obvious attacks on free speech, but donated dollars in an effort to support the station and its billboard campaign.
Station of the Cross of course realizes the vandalism stands as a stark reminder of the increasing hostility against people of faith. WQOM host Scott Landry commented that the vandalism wasn’t a prank and should cause us to “reflect on the subtle and not so subtle ways that hostility is increasing against the practice of faith and against religious expression.” It has made the station more acutely aware of what the Church is facing in an increasingly secularized culture.
It sure is nice to know, though, that we serve an amazing God who always gets the last word and has an amazing way of giving us those Romans 8:28 moments. And making some very pleasing lemonade out of some pretty sour lemons.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.