April 14, 2005
Promising young Christian communicators from around the world will get a chance to take radio training through a scholarship fund unveiled by HCJB World Radio at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Anaheim, Calif., in February. "We have named an annual scholarship in honor of Robert 'Bob' Neff," said HCJB World Radio President David Johnson. "He has a deep commitment to be involved in the lives of young people who want to use their communication skills in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We felt a scholarship named after him would reflect his vision and heart for young people to help reach the world for Christ."
Neff, who stood at the helm of Moody Broadcasting Network in Chicago for 31 years, resigned from his post as vice president on Feb. 21 due to health concerns. He continues to help as a consultant on a part-time basis. Neff also served as a member of the HCJB World Radio Board of Trustees for more than four years before stepping down in January. "It was extremely thoughtful and perceptive of HCJB World Radio's leadership that this scholarship would be very meaningful to me," Neff said. "One of my most satisfying roles at Moody in the last 10 years has been reaching out to and helping international broadcasters, and training has been a key element of that."
Neff was one of two recipients of NRB's William Ward Ayer Distinguished Service Award for "outstanding and significant contributions to the field of Christian communications." In addition, NRB recognized Moody's "Open Line" call-in program as "Best Radio Talk Show." This was one the first programs created for Moody's groundbreaking satellite service that launched under Neff's leadership in 1980.
He caught the vision to help international broadcasters in the mid-1990s when Moody began receiving numerous requests for help to set up Christian radio stations in their countries, especially after the fall of the Iron Curtain. "We didn't know how to respond to all the requests," Neff explained. "The need was there, but rather than reinvent the wheel, I went to HCJB World Radio, knowing the mission was already working around the world in 'radio planting' and had a good perspective of the situation." Johnson then invited Neff to visit HCJB World Radio's radio ministries in the various regions, and he traveled extensively.
As a result, Moody began working more closely with Radio Voice of the Gospel, the mission's partner network in Romania. "We provided support by sending out people to Romania to do training, and we had broadcasters come to the U.S. for two weeks or more to gain exposure to Christian broadcasting and see the stations," he said. "It's been most economical to send people overseas where 80 or more broadcasters gather for a seminar. In recent years students have attended from places such as Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Turkey and Spain. This year we'll also send trainers to South America and Australia to help lead workshops."
Since the Bob Neff Scholarship was announced, Ron Cline, chairman of the HCJB World Radio Board of Trustees, says interest among U.S. broadcasters has been high. "Already stations have asked if they can give something toward it," he said. Meanwhile, Neff expressed gratitude for the "prayers of thousands of people around the world. I am experiencing God's peace and comfort in this journey that we're on." (HCJB World Radio)