It’s March and spring is in the air—a season that marks the transition from long, cold nights to warm, sunny days, bursting with life as flowers bloom and people again venture outside.
But in the North Africa/Middle East Region, spring began in the dead of winter. On Dec. 18, 2010, the “Arab Spring” (or “Arab Awakening”) started in Tunisia and culminated in a wave of citizen uprisings and protests
that spread throughout at least 15 countries in the Arab World, leading to changes in a number of countries’ governments and leadership.
People in this region live their lives against a background of social, political and cultural upheaval. They long for glimpses of hope.
“The recent events of the Arab Spring resulted in many people who rejoice that the past is gone but who have no idea how to discover a better future,” said HCJB Global’s director for the region. “This ‘identity crisis’ has produced for them a hopeless vacuum. HCJB Global feels incredibly privileged to empower Christ-followers in this region to use radio to share with listeners that Jesus can give them hope for the future and fill the vacuum in their hearts.”
In response to the heightened openness and unprecedented opportunities, HCJB Global announced at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in February the launching of a campaign called “Journey of Hope.” The theme of the initiative draws on the imagery from Luke 24’s “road to Emmaus” story.
“The road to Emmaus is a perfect picture of how we should approach the people’s hearts—especially now,” said one of the more than 50 native Arabic speakers who produce radio programs that HCJB Global airs in the region via shortwave, direct-to-home satellite and the Internet.
HCJB Global started beaming Arabic-language programs into this area via shortwave in 1991. Satellite (direct-to-home radio) broadcasts were added in 2001, and the 24/7 satellite broadcasting is now also live-streamed on the Internet.
Another program producer finds radio an excellent way to spread the gospel in this region where an estimated 95 percent of residents will never personally meet a Christian. But they can meet Christ, via radio, in the privacy of their own homes.
“We see radio as a perfect tool to reach the people,” explained the program producer. “Even with all the modern technologies, radio is still making a big difference in the hearts of the people.”
“Listening to shortwave radio I heard your radio broadcasts in Arabic explain the gospel message. Then God provided a way for me to meet other believers and I was baptized. Now I am working to bring the good news to the people of North Africa through radio.”
Less than 1 percent of the region’s 355 million people are believers. Few have access to the gospel, and many have never heard the name of Jesus. Yet most travel a long journey in search of love, truth and hope in their lives. And many are befriended on that journey by hearing the voices of radio program producers.
Surveys conducted by an independent organization on behalf of the U. S. Broadcasting Board of Governors indicate that more than 1.5 million people in the region are tuning in at least weekly to HCJB Global’s Arabic broadcasts via shortwave or satellite. Separate research indicates that the number listening on the Internet increased by more than 300 percent in the past two years. The impact of the programs is evident through messages received from listeners.
“I was listening to your daily programs, and I announced that Jesus is my Savior. But some of my friends considered me stupid. They persecuted me and threatened to kill me, but I am still faithful in listening to your programs. Please, I need your help.”
HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson emphasizes that focusing on this region is strategic for the mission and the world. “I can think of no more critical part of the world than North Africa/Middle East—biblically, historically, prophetically,” he said. “We’re absolutely committed, passionate and excited about the opportunities to break down barriers through media to introduce Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Savior of the world and hope of mankind to those who live in the Arab World.
He encourages believers everywhere to pray that the transitions sparked by the “Arab Awakening” will kindle a yearning for knowing Jesus in the hearts of millions as they hear about Him through the radio ministry of HCJB Global.
“I decided to break my silence and write to you because, frankly, I very much like the words from the Bible. They teach how a person can change his way of life. I would love to read the Bible and know more about the life of our Master, the Messiah. When I listen to your programs about the Bible I feel a great deal of peace and comfort in my soul. My desire is to know the truth about Christianity. Please send me the Bible in Arabic.”
How You Can Get Involved
Pray: Ask for a copy of HCJB Global’s 30-day Prayer Calendar that you can use to pray for the Arabic-speaking individuals in the region.
Share: Request a Journey of Hope Resource Kit to share with your family, friends, church, small groups, Bible studies or even a local Christian radio station so they can participate too.
Give: Join in helping fund the Arabic-language broadcasts. A gift of $35 sponsors one hour of broadcasting.
Enter a Drawing: You could win a trip for two on the HCJB Global “Holy Land Vision Journey” with Ron and Barb Cline July 20-30, 2013. You can enter starting on March 1, 2012.
To read the rules about the drawing and complete your entry form, visit www.hcjb.org/hope