More Indigenous Missions are Using Radio, TV and the Internet for Outreach.
February 23 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE (February 23) – Beginning with the Apostle Paul's use of the Roman highway networks, Christians throughout history have commonly employed the latest technology of their times to proclaim the Word of God. From the Gutenberg Printing Press to "YouTube", Christian missionaries have been quick to seize upon new mass media to make our Lord known. Today, broadcasting and the Internet are helping native missionaries break down barriers with the gospel as they obey the Lord's command to reach all nations.
Christian Aid assists numerous native missions in expanding broadcasting as a means of reaching millions with the gospel. This week, Christian Aid is co-hosting the International Broadcasters reception at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, and participating in a number of sessions with native missionary broadcasters who are visiting the USA. To make contact with a Christian Aid representative today in Nashville, you may call cell phone number 434-227-0811.
One of the largest native missionary movements is in the former USSR. There, the Communists left behind extensive radio and television networks using thousands of local repeater stations. Today, these networks in 25 countries are available to evangelists such as Slavik Radchuk and other indigenous missionary broadcasters at extremely low cost – and they are being extended through Internet Radio/TV.
Slavik Radchuk's broadcasts penetrate all the countries of Central Asia that are closed to outside missionaries and many other places where Russian is spoken around the world. Slavik speaks both Russian and Ukrainian fluently and his broadcasts reach a potential audience of over 100 million listeners every week. His entire broadcasting budget of about $100,000 annually, or $2000 a week, is made possible from gifts received by Christian Aid. Listener mail comes in by the truckload to Slavik's broadcasting offices in Kiev.
Under Communist rule in Russian-speaking Eurasia, residents were formerly required to have hard-wired radios installed in their homes. Day in and day out, propaganda messages were broadcast. Today, these same radios are being used by Slavik Radchuk's Russian-language broadcasts. Instead of Communist propaganda, many are now listening to inspirational stories about new life in Christ.
Beginning with a Sunday afternoon TV broadcast from Kiev every week, Slavik soon began speaking to the entire Ukraine where 97% of the people have TV sets. Later, he began broadcasting another half-hour program on Saturday afternoons over a TV station in Rivne that reaches the eight million people of western Ukraine.
Other Broadcasts in Asia and Middle-East
People in the largely Muslim lands of the Middle East are very vocal, following oral traditions passed down through generations. Listening to, and memorizing passages from the Koran is widely practiced today. One Christian ministry provides MP3 players containing Arabic language recordings of the New Testament. It also broadcasts these recordings and other Bible programs over FM, medium wave, shortwave, satellite, and internet radio.
More and more, indigenous ministries are adapting to these technological advances. In Burma, Witnessing for Christ has a short-wave radio broadcast in a dozen languages. Thailand Strategic Outreach is using radio to reach the Isaan people in the Northeast and in the closed land of Laos where persecution is extensive. Many ministries in the Philippines have radio broadcasts locally and throughout Asia such as Redeemed by the Blood, Central Bible Mission International and Asian Christian Outreach. In Cambodia, as in many other countries, local indigenous ministries record programs for broadcasting outside the country – then the local missionaries provide the follow-up.
Today, TV and Radio ministries are expanding onto Websites, Chat rooms and Email "eblasts" to and from places of extreme persecution, exchanging vital information. This communication is especially helpful in areas of particular need, such as the isolated Arab world. Areas suffering from famine or other natural disaster are better able to convey their situation and needs during times of crises in this manner.
Virtual Bible schools, correspondence courses, and counseling are becoming available in hundreds of languages. The need for training and supporting more Internet missionaries is growing every day.
Other indigenous missionaries supported by Christian Aid are providing extensive follow-up services to ministries based in other lands. Many of these countries come under the satellite footprints of international broadcasters who proclaim the Gospel but are not allowed to do the follow-up in countries closed to foreign missionaries.
Several ministry leaders in India invite non-Christian friends to their homes for refreshments, and then invite them to watch a short TV program or DVD featuring a well-known evangelist. After the program, the guests are invited to ask questions about what they have heard.
There are other considerations for verbal communication; take India, for example. It has over one billion of the world's population yet possibly half of them are illiterate. They depend upon radios for information (as opposed to newspapers and other printed materials). If you were to visit a typical village in India, you would find two or three makeshift teashops – and in each one of them is a radio. These teashops keep the volume turned up high throughout the day. Increasingly, local Christian broadcasters use radio to preach the gospel in these poor areas.
One ministry writes: "God has given us a precious opportunity to broadcast a gospel radio program every Friday from 7:45 to 8:00 PM. The program is called Hope in Despair and we heard it last night on a short wave 19 meter band and it came in very clear!" This one little program alone has the potential of reaching several million people.
This kind of story can be repeated in almost every one of the countries where Christian Aid helps support indigenous ministries. In the decade ahead, there will opportunity to deploy thousands of additional broadcasting missionaries. To provide special training, Christian Aid supports technical schools as well as Bible institutes.