(June 8, 2012 - by Harold Goerzen) The staff at Radio Andrea, one of HCJB Global’s partner stations in Madagascar, “couldn’t be more thankful” for the help the mission gave them in launching the outreach five years ago, says Lee Sonius, director of the Sub-Saharan Africa Region.
|Partner station in Madagascar|
They were so grateful that the station, operated by United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Africa in Antsohihy, recently paid for Sonius’ travel within the island nation off the East African coast.
“Since we gave them a 500-watt FM transmitter in 2007, you would think we gave them the world,” he related. “That transmitter has not given them any trouble. The station is run completely by nationals. When the station launched there were some missionaries from South Africa involved, but no longer.”
“It’s a great station—the only Christian station in the city,” Sonius continued. “I met with the staff, and they’re doing a lot of healthcare and community development-type programming along with specific Christian outreach.” Programs air in Malagasy and French about 15 hours a day.
|Listeners in Madagascar|
Sonius added that the broadcasts continue to have a “good impact on the community.” He pointed to the station manager who was an itinerant pastor who used to ride his motorbike to various rural churches. “He’s now full-time at the station,” Sonius said. “Some of those places he used to visit are within listening distance of the station, so it’s greatly multiplied his efforts.”
During his visit, Lee Sonius had a Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) airplane and pilot at his disposal for three days. “We went all around the country, visiting five different towns,” he related. “And yes, we saw lemurs!” Lemurs are monkey-like, bulbous-eyed primates endemic to Madagascar.
|Studio at partner station in Madagascar|
One of the places he visited was Antsiranana (formerly known as Diego-Suárez), a city on the northern tip of Madagascar where UCB was preparing to open a new partner station with HCJB Global’s help.
“I went there and talked through some of the planning of the studio and acoustical treatment,” Sonius explained. “I hope to be able to go back there at some point.”
Regarding the religious climate in Madagascar, Sonius described the country as “heavily Roman Catholic but mixed with animism—very syncretistic.”
There is also a growing Muslim influence in the country, but Sonius observed that the younger generations are especially open to the gospel and evangelical Christianity.
“One day we were eating at a restaurant in the capital, and we met with someone from another African mission that runs a big Christian school where you don’t have to be a Christian to attend—many Muslims are enrolled.”
“During one of the school’s chapel services, a visiting speaker asked if a student could come up front and prove that Jesus exists. A kid, 16, raised his hand. The speaker thought, ‘Oh no, he’s a Muslim.’ But the boy came up and said, ‘I know that Jesus exists because he lives in my heart and he talks to me every day!’”
Source: HCJB Global