Dare To Dream Network Hopes To Impact Urban America Through Holistic “Practical Christianity”
Meet Yvonne Lewis, General Manager of Dare To Dream Network, a 24-hour urban lifestyle station on 3 Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), the second largest owner of Christian stations in the USA. Dare to Dream Network is dedicated to providing a practical approach to addressing the problems of crime, poverty, substance abuse, family, chronic health concerns, and other issues facing African-Americans living in urban communities.
We chatted with Yvonne about her journey transitioning from being an accomplished background singer/media personality and naturopathic doctor to running a Christian station, how Dare To Dream is growing its programming, the state of spirituality in the Black community, and why networks like hers need more exposure.
Check out our chat below!
MadameNoire(MN): After years of working in health and music, how did you realize that running a TV network was your calling?
Yvonne Lewis (YL): I was a Psych major in college and got a Master’s in Social Work. I only worked at one job in social work. I decided that I really wanted to do music.I had the opportunity to sing with some of the world’s best: Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Patti Austin, Quincy Jones –amazing artists and producers. I started doing jingles, everything from Burger King to Charmin bathroom tissue, Diet Coke, and Folger’s Coffee.
A studio singer career’s is kind of like an athlete, you have a peak and then you begin to decline. As that was happening, I was learning alternative medicine. God placed that passion in my heart and spirit. I got very involved in that and became a doctor of naturopathy.
After that, I was practicing traditional Chinese medicine. I felt that some of the beliefs that were exposed as being at the foundation of Chinese medicine were incompatible with my Christian beliefs so I got out of traditional Chinese medicine which was 95% of my income. It was then that I felt called to write the book “GREAT DAYS: 9 Principles of Health To Revolutionize Your Life.”
I called a friend of mine to get an interview at 3 Angels Broadcasting Network so that I could promote the book. I came out here and the person who was supposed to host and interview me had to leave. He said that he was going to ask Danny Shelton (the founder). He interviewed me. We began to talk about my burden regarding the inner city. He said that he felt impressed and that I should be the general manager of 3ABN’s urban network. That’s how I got in the seat. This has been the most rewarding, fulfilling, and most enjoyable job I’ve ever had. I’ve had a varied career. All of these things equipped me to do what my assignment is now.
I can’t leave God out. It’s because of God I’m here where I am right now. We cannot compartmentalize God and our spirituality. It’s got to pervade our philosophy and our values and our behavior. I’m thankful to be doing what I’m doing. I get to write. I get to sing. 3ABN is a 31-year-old television network — the second largest owner of Christian television stations in America. I’m very thankful to head up the urban arm of 3ABN- which is the Dare To Dream Network.
Everything that I do here has representation in everything that I have done before. For example, getting the programs on health – I know about health because I was a natural health practitioner for several years. Singing – I still sing for 3ABN. Writing – I’ve written a couple of books and I write a magazine article every month for 3ABN. My social work degree has helped me in terms of empathy and identifying cultural issues, challenges, societal challenges. It might seem as if it was disjointed. I’m able to apply everything on some level in this chair. This has been an amazing journey for me.
MN: What are your responsibilities as the General Manager of the Dare To Dream Network?
YL: The first thing was to carve an identity for the network. What kind of programs would we have? What is the general philosophy of the network? The philosophy of the network is that we offer the Gospel and tools for living. It’s practical Christianity. How do you live it out? We have identified the challenges confronting inner-city residences and then designed programming to address those challenges. We have a program on money management, sexual purity, parenting, employment, relationships, fathering, and more.
We even have a program called The New Journey which is for offenders and ex-offenders hosted by an ex-offender. It shows different people who have gotten caught up in crime and are walking a new path. We have all types of program to develop a person… it’s a holistic approach to spiritual programming.
MN: What are some of the challenges you face running the Dare To Dream Network?
YL: The biggest personal challenge is not burning out. We don’t have a big staff. You have to make sure that you organize your time properly and that you prioritize. I’m juggling several roles under the umbrella of General Manager. In terms of the network, the biggest challenge is marketing and letting people know that we are here and want you to watch and get your feedback. You can give us some exposure to an audience that hasn’t ever heard of us. I was just on the Maggie Linton show last month on Sirius XM. She had never heard of Dare To Dream. We’re all dressed up with nowhere to go. We’re glad that we are finally getting some interest and publicity.
There is no other network that is doing what we do. That is wonderful. We can meet the needs of African Americans. We feel like we have programming that would be appealing to people of every age group.
MN: Why is the Dare To Dream network is so important?
YL: Because spirituality is being neglected. It should be such an important part of our lives. Yet, I’m seeing a spiritual decline. I think it’s because for many people The Bible is not relevant. Church isn’t relevant. There’s a misperception of the relevancy of the Bible. One of the things we want to do is show how life can be so much more fulfilling when you have spirituality and no longer have to be self-reliant. You can rely on a higher power that can give you what you need to face the challenges of the day. It’s so difficult when you are trying to do everything yourself. This does not absolve anyone from personal responsibility. It encourages people to be the best that they can be but to also rely on God and to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Get to know Him so that your life becomes so much more fulfilled. We want to offer people the opportunity to know Him for themselves through these programs. It’s critically important.
The values that we have are shaped by media. We want to reshape the values of the viewer.
MN: How are people responding to your current programming?
YL: People love it and are [telling us] they are happy we are here. “This is a network we’ve been waiting for.” We are in several prisons around the country, which is so gratifying when I get letters from inmates how blessed they are by the programming. How they want to be better fathers and husbands. It can bring tears to your eyes. It’s heartwarming to know that people’s’ lives are being changed.
We have a program called Chew’s Challenge, which is a 28-day challenge to help people lose weight, change their eating habits. People love it. It’s making a difference in the community. We know that our communities have the highest level of disease. We want to change that outcome and help people change the way they eat (not by sacrificing taste) but by making a few substitutes. If you can help someone get healthier physically, and then they hear something that can help them spiritually and then they watch and hear something that can help them financially, it’s a holistic way of approaching people’s needs.
MN: How would you love to see Dare To Dream grow?
YL: I would love for Dare To Dream to be accessible to people via cable television. Right now, it’s not happening. It’s very costly. We need support from people who watch. We have some very wealthy people in the Black community who are philanthropists but we need to let them know what we are doing so they can assist.
If that doesn’t happen. People are watching more online anyway. I would just love for Dare To Dream be a household name.
MN: Is there a reason why more Black investors aren’t investing in faith-based missions?
YL: They don’t know about it. If they knew what we were trying to do…if they knew we were trying to help young Black fathers be fathers…if they knew we were trying to help young Black mothers take care of their babies. If they understood the mission and vision of the network, they might be more prone to give. Right now, we are just trying to let them know we exist. Once they know, hopefully, the will be moved to do something. We are not just trying to impact people in one dimension. We know that impacting them spiritually can permeate other dimensions as well. If someone gets better spiritually, they can also get better spiritually and emotionally…even financially.
Once they know we are here, they will take a look and want to help us. Some people think that what we do is somebody else’s responsibility. No, we need for people who share in this burden to help us help our culture.
Rana Campbell is a marketing/branding strategist that helps creatives build brands that SHINE in the business world. Check out her site here or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, or Facebook.