“God reveals His will and invites you to join Him where He is already at work.”
— Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God
HCJB Global has found this to be true, especially in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal and Papua New Guinea where opportunities to help partners establish community radio stations continue to exceed mission leaders’ most optimistic expectations.
“Thailand has the most active radio planting efforts of any of the countries we currently work in,” says John Brewer of the Asia Pacific Region’s leadership and partnership development team. “The initial goal of 100 radio stations is to support a nationwide effort to see churches established in 80,000 villages by 2020.”
To help keep up with the efforts in this predominantly Buddhist country, John and Esther Brewer set up a residence in Thailand nearly two years ago. This project started in 2009 as a joint vision of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) Thailand, CCC Canada and a group of Thai businessmen called the CEO Network.
“They invited HCJB Global to assist them,” Brewer explained. “With less than 0.5 percent of the population evangelical, most people don’t know what being a Christian is. There is great reluctance to visit a church, even if one is near their house. We’ve seen radio open many doors for the church to engage the community in ways they couldn’t without radio.”
HCJB Global has helped plant 12 stations since the project began. “This year we’re helping set up at least 12 new stations, and I expect to see this many for the next few years if licensing is still available,” Brewer said. “We also plan to hold several training events.”
Programming content varies, depending on the community. “In most areas it’s a mix of popular music and relevant current issues—trying to engage the society in a pre-evangelistic style.”
|An Indonesian student shows off a fixed-tuned, solar-powered SonSet® radio during a training session.|
HCJB Global has worked to plant more than 50 community FM stations in Indonesia with seven partners since 2004 with thousands of listeners coming to Christ each year. According to Asia Pacific Regional Director Ty Stakes, the mission is providing a variety of continuing education options for local partners in 2012, including the two-part Global Voice Institute (GVI) leadership course held in Indonesia in April and October.
Outreach continues to grow despite challenges for the mission’s largest partner in the country and the sudden death of a key staff member’s wife who helped run a counseling center. “We will probably be adding four stations in Indonesia this year—at least three with our main partner and one with a new partner,” Stakes said.
“Hundreds of people are expressing interest in the gospel every week, including college students in unreached parts of the country,” he related. “The stations have some young creative program producers, and they have a strategy for outreach in highly contextualized situations.”
Rani* was a devout follower of Islam in Indonesia, married to a Muslim man. But they divorced when her husband abandoned the family after falling into gambling and sexual addictions. It was during this dark period of Rani’s life that she met and married a Christian widower. “That proved to be a turning point in my life,” she recounted. “My second husband is a devoted Christian, and he loves listening to Christian radio, so I also started to listen. I was amazed! This station is totally different from any other I’ve ever known. It brings peace, joy and hope—things that had been lost in my life for so long.” Rani gave her life to Christ, grew in her faith and was baptized. “I still face difficulties in life, but now I have Jesus Christ beside me. I’m so thankful that God has used Christian radio to minister to me.”
* Name changed to protect the person’s privacy.
|A Nepali believer produces a radio program after a local community gets its first Christian FM station.|
Opportunities also continue to blossom in Nepal, now a democracy after centuries as a Hindu kingdom closed to missionary work. One result of the change in 2008 was the government’s release of license applications for community FM radio stations. A group of local believers was granted two licenses, and in 2009 HCJB Global supplied equipment, technical support and training to install the country’s first two partner stations. Three more have been launched since then, and more are planned.
“We recently met with all of our current and potential partners in Nepal in one room for the first time, and it was fantastic to hear their stories,” said Dave Pasechnik, one of HCJB Global’s vice presidents of international ministries.
“They want to network together to increase their impact and sustainability in the country. They have a desire to see 25 more radio stations operated by Christians on the air in the next few years! One Christian told about handing out 10 fixed-tuned, solar-powered SonSet® radios in a very unlikely location that led to the salvation of 24 individuals and opened doors for literature distribution!”
“Our partners there have gotten the bug!” exclaimed Stakes. “We’re looking at adding three or four stations this year. The biggest obstacles our partners face are political instabilities and the lack of infrastructure such as reliable electricity.”
As the number of FM community stations expands, HCJB Global plans to hold leadership training in the country.
“In March we had a meeting with one of our listener clubs, and it was a really fruitful and lovely meeting,” wrote the station manager of one of HCJB Global’s partner stations. “Many of the club members want to know more about the Lord. We’re planning to organize a new social program in our community, and there are many new people who are interested in starting listener clubs in their areas. I think this way we will have great opportunities to reach out to them and build relationships.”
Locally produced programs in Nepali also air weekly from HCJB Global-Australia’s international broadcast facility in Kununurra.
|Broadcaster for partner Wantok Radio Light hosts a live program in Papua New Guinea.|
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
With additional resources in hand from local donors and the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government, partner Wantok Radio Light (WRL) is looking to double the number of FM outlets in the country to 30.
“Their aim now is to have a station in every district of PNG,” said Pasechnik. “The country has a total of 89 districts in 20 provinces. Since there is a member of parliament (MP) from every district, they feel each MP will want a radio station in his district and help fund it.”
The network also hopes to distribute 50,000 SonSet® radios to listeners across PNG. “Now that is a lot of faith that God will provide the funding,” Pasechnik said. “Pray that this would happen so many will be able to hear God’s Word in PNG.”
Pastor Joe Pinyhau from the WRL outlet in Buka has hosted a live call-in program, “The Chapel of the Air,” since 2009, attracting more than 15,000 text messages a month. This year the average increased to 17,000. He said almost half of the respondents ask about salvation.
Recently the local police commander contacted the pastor, asking for Bibles for everyone on his police force. “We can enforce law and order, but if we don’t change the heart of the people, nothing will really change,” he said. “We need Bibles to do that.” Pastor Joe agreed, and the PNG Bible Society committed to donate 1.5 tons of Bibles. “Wow, what a God-only answer!”
Pastor Joe also shared a story from the new WRL station in Vanimo, a city near the border with Irian Jaya, Indonesia. An older man was listening to the program and asked his children to buy him a transistor radio so he could listen every night. One evening he prayed the prayer of salvation and told his children to thank God for that station because he had found the light. “Tonight I don’t want any disturbance,” he said to his children as he laid the radio on top of his chest and fell asleep, listening to the program. He never woke up ... on earth. The next day the children texted Pastor Joe, “If it wasn’t for WRL, our old man never would have made it through to heaven.”
Where will HCJB Global go next? “We’ll definitely be working with a partner in a closed country to help with a voice and hands ministry,” Stakes said. “We’re always looking at new opportunities to reach those who have never heard.”
Bangladesh, Cambodia and India are on the horizon, hinging on the availability of local broadcasting licenses. “Myanmar (Burma) is also on the radar for us,” he said. “Across the region, we’re looking at installing 20 radio stations this year.”