"You put in a radio station, then you put in a water well, then you do medical work. It's a formula started last year in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region, and one that could be repeated countless times," says Lee Sonius, the region's director.
The combination of HCJB Global Voice (media) and HCJB Global Hands (healthcare) was beautifully illustrated this February when a 12-member work team from Woodmen Valley Chapel, a large church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, linked up in Ghana with a team of physicians from Ecuador.
Coordinated by HCJB Global's Nate Dell, the combined teams were hosted by a national partner, Theovision, based in Accra, the capital. Through this partnership, HCJB Global has helped founder Theo Asare fulfill his dream of adding radio and medical ministries to his extensive audio New Testament outreach.
"Theo had been thinking for quite a few years of doing more holistic ministry," explained Sonius. "His outreach has produced audio versions of the New Testament in more than 200 languages." With offices in Accra as well as Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria, the ministry has made God's Word available to unreached people groups across Africa.
When HCJB Global moved its regional office to Accra in 2005, Sonius developed his relationship with Asare, leading to a formal partnership three years later. In 2009 HCJB Global engineers helped install a water well in Hateka, making a lasting impact on the community where Theovision had established a Bible-listening group.
"Hateka not only had a poor water supply, leading to serious health problems, it also had a very bad reputation for drunkenness, fighting and quarrels," Sonius said. "Now there is much less of that. Many people have come to Christ, and the village is being transformed."
HCJB Global Hands then helped Theovision move to the next level, launching a mobile medical clinic ministry in June 2009 in an effort to provide basic healthcare to needy people in rural communities.
Earlier this year, a short-term team from Woodmen Valley Chapel came alongside local workers to help in the early stages of the construction of a health post at Theovision's office in Accra. The Woodmen team was then joined by the seven-member Ecuadorian medical team.
This ad hoc team of Ecuadorians, Ghanaians and U.S. citizens held mobile medical clinics, seeing more than 2,500 Ghanaians and treating them for a wide range of health disorders, including malaria, parasites, iron deficiency and skin problems. In addition, team members held vacation Bible schools for the children.
While in Ghana, the combined teams also attended the dedications of two partner radio stations — events where HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson spoke — first in the central Ghanaian city of Assin Fosu and then in Asamankese.
"It was great to see how our media and healthcare ministries are working together," Pederson said. "In the markets you could hear the programs playing on radios everywhere. In Assin Fosu, it was the only local community radio station, and the signal was reaching a radius of nearly 80 miles!"
"Our partnership with Theovision has worked very, very well," Sonius added. "The people are already getting the spiritual aspect with the listening groups. When you come with a medical clinic, you're demonstrating that you care about their physical needs. Then they're much more likely to listen when you talk about their spiritual needs."
HCJB Global is also combining the Voice and Hands of Jesus in Burkina Faso, one of Africa's poorest countries. Support came recently from an 81-year-old grandmother in Maryland who funded a water project in honor of each of her three children through HCJB Global's Power Partner program. She now has a vision to do the same for her 11 grandchildren. She and a grandson recently visited the well in Houndé in the western part of Burkina Faso. Another well in Fada N'Gourma, a city on the opposite side of the country, was drilled on the same property as HCJB Global's partner radio station operated by Radio Evangile Développement (RED).
"For about five years I've had this dream of putting wells next to radio stations," Sonius related. "That way you have both physical water and the Living Water available to residents at the same place. Then the station's staff can truly say, 'We're meeting both the spiritual and physical needs of people.'"
Throughout the years, HCJB Global has had the opportunity to come alongside partners that have integrated media and healthcare ministries such as CCFm in Cape Town, South Africa, and Radio Kahuzi in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mission is also looking at opportunities to add radio ministries to existing medical partners such as the Partners in Hope HIV/AIDS-related clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi, and the remote Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo, Republic of Congo. Medical staff from Ecuador have helped fill staffing gaps at the Impfondo hospital for more than two years.
"There are many needs, and water is just one aspect," Sonius said. "In many places in Africa, water is life. Water is more important than food or shelter because it's so hot and arid. I love the idea of putting in wells where people don't have access to clean drinking water."