Corp Takeovers to Ministry Layoffs: Lord, Why Are You Asking Me To Do This (Again)?
After leaving a high-ranking job inside the oil industry, Ed Cannon thought he would never again have to be a part of facilitating massive employee layoffs as the result of corporate takeovers and mergers.
However, God had a different plan, said Cannon, who after working for British Petroleum went into full time ministry with the Moody Bible Institute before becoming the president and CEO of Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC).
“It was a really, really difficult time at Moody, mostly because the investment world changed after September 11 (terror attacks 2001), where the stock market basically cratered,” Cannon explained. “It cost a lot of non-profit organizations a lot of money and a lot of them were in real financial trouble.”
Moody specifically hired him for his business experience which led to his evaluation that the ministry was “woefully overspending” due primarily to the fact that 85 percent of its budget was tied into people’s salaries.
“You’ve got to keeps the lights on. You can’t shut the power off to the radio station because then you are out of business,” he said. “We laid off hundreds of people, and for me that’s what I was trying to avoid. You remember the soccer field story [Note: Read Part One of Cannon’s story].”
After his personal revelation, Cannon said he prayed: “Lord, why are you asking me to do this? I mean this is exactly what I didn’t want to do. And it’s interesting how the Lord said to me: ‘What do you think I was training you for? If you are going to serve me, you are going to have faith that I will train you in the things I wanted you to do. It’s not about you enjoying yourself, Ed. This is not about you going to Moody and having a great time hanging out with these pastors and preachers and radio celebrities. I expect you to work for me. I expect you to do hard work.’ That’s what I had to do.”
During the cuts, he said he received hate mail from people who said, “You’re an evil business guy for laying all these people off. This is a ministry, not a business. In ministry you don’t do these kinds of thing.”
In their eyes he was seen as “this evil, mean business guy, but we were losing $18 million a year.”
After a difficult time for a couple of years, finances were righted and the organization was “back on solid footing.”
“We wrote some new strategies,” he said. “We were basically in the business of education, radio, and publishing. If you look at those three things today, … they are all changing and in massive transition. We were sitting in an ocean with 40-foot waves all around us.”
He maintained his passion for international work which began to grow with BP. Then, he received a phone call that would lead to transitioning from Moody to FEBC.
“I loved the medium of radio because that’s what transformed our lives,” Cannon said. “So, I got a phone call one day from one of my buddies who was familiar with the international radio world. He’s the president of Trans World Radio, and he said, ‘This job at FEBC is open and I think they are looking for a new president. You should consider this’.”
Cannon received a call from another friend who he worked with at Moody who said the same thing and that got his attention.
After discussion with his wife about the potential sacrifices they would have to make, including his wife having to leave a medical practice and moving away from family to live in the Los Angeles area, they made the decision to accept the job with FEBC.
“Our life-lesson in all of this is that when you think you are giving up something for God, the truth is He will give you back far more than you actually gave up if you are willing to work for it,” he said. “God gives back in ways that you would have never imagined.
“We have radio stations in 40 countries, we’re broadcasting the gospel in over 100 languages, and the responses that FEBC is getting from all these countries number in the tens of millions a year.
“Sometimes, as many as 2 million individual listeners a day are downloading content, and as many as 20 million people are downloading our apps per day, proclaiming the gospel in the most difficult places to reach on the earth where the government prohibits the gospel from going forward but yet through radio and internet technologies, literally tens of millions of people are hearing from this organization and coming to faith in Christ.”
He added, “This is truly a Great Commission organization, proclaiming the gospel to every tribe and tongue and nation. So, the reward for me in doing what I’ve done is serving shoulder to shoulder with these international leaders in FEBC who serve sacrificially thanks to unbelievable fruit from their work. I couldn’t find a more fulfilling work for me to do at all.”
When asked about what he would like to share with younger generations, he said, “It is absolutely not about the rewards of this world. It has absolutely nothing to do with you enjoying what you do in your job. It’s all about investing for the purpose of pleasing God. In doing so, He will reveal to you things which you can enjoy far more than that you could have ever desired for yourself.”
Interview conducted by Alex Murashko