Tuning into the “God Channel”
January 30, 2014
The radio program “Faith, Hope, and Love” draws listeners from Ukraine, Russia, and other countries in the former Soviet Union.
When Vladimir Lenin returned from political exile to lead the Russian Revolution in 1917, one of his first objectives was to seize control of all media. Lenin envisioned newspapers and radio as the primary tools for communicating Bolshevik propaganda. If he could “educate” the masses through media, he knew he would have control of their minds and souls.
During the Stalin era the Soviets built a radio system with a network of transmitter towers for the sole purpose of disseminating communist propaganda throughout the USSR. Small transistor radios were a fixture in Ukrainian homes. In schools, hospitals, prisons, and government buildings, citizens were forced to tune in to the “Voice from Moscow” with its latest glorification of the communist system.
All a person had to do was turn a radio on—any radio, at any location—and there was the voice. They didn’t have any options. There was only one station.
News reports heralded the latest industrial development project or brilliant scientific discoveries that outshone anything the capitalist West could produce. They spoke of homeless people in New York City sleeping on the streets, but boasted that such deplorable living conditions were not seen in Russia.
What citizens did not hear was religious programming. The airwaves were silent in regards to any mention of God or the Bible.
Freedom came to Ukraine in 1987, and with it arose the first opportunities in 70 years to openly worship God. Slavik Radchuk, a Ukrainian Christian, caught the vision to do something no one would have dreamed of a few short years before. If the Soviets could use radio to spread communist and atheist ideology, he could make use of the same system to proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ.
Radchuk knew the odds were against him, but God was for him.
"We want to use radio time for preaching."
During the next three years the energetic young preacher accomplished the unthinkable. When Mikhail Gorbachev gave believers his blessing to celebrate 1,000 years of Christianity in the Soviet Union in 1988, Radchuk boldly asked local city officials for permission to hold an evangelistic crusade. They were stunned by Radchuk’s request, but they could do little to stop him or the wave of religious freedom that was poised to sweep across the region.
Naysayers told Radchuk not to expect much of a turnout. Instead, more than 20,000 Ukrainians came to the crusade and over 500 people received Christ as Savior.
From there his ministry expanded to include outreach to prisoners and the startup of a Bible training school.
Then Radchuk contacted the president of a radio and television broadcasting company and made a 200-mile trip across the country to Kiev to present his carefully thought out vision.
“We want to use radio time for preaching,” explained Radchuk.
Persuading officials to convert the government channel into the “God channel” was not easy. To Radchuk’s surprise, the president authorized the radio program under two conditions. First, Radchuk could not preach against the Ukrainian government. Second, he had to apply for official recognition as a Christian radio and television company.
Slavik Radchuk delivers a message for his Christian radio broadcast.
Remarkably, the paperwork was approved, and in 1991 Radchuk made his first radio broadcast. At that time he operated the only licensed Christian radio and TV company in Ukraine, and perhaps in the entire former Soviet Union.
In the early years his radio ministry received over 8,000 letters from listeners. People expressed thanks for the programs, some saying they accepted Christ as a result, or they received an answer to prayers for physical healing or reconciliation in a strained relationship.
At one point Radchuk was told the program would be canceled due to a shortage of funds. “Faith, Hope, and Love” was off the air for four weeks. After the government radio station received 3,000 letters of complaint for pulling the program, the station manager said he would return it to the airwaves.
“He said he would work out a deal with us,” recalled Radchuk. “So he gave us a lower price, and I kept preaching.”
Now through 1,000 towers his radio programs are transmitted from Kiev to an area encompassing 100 million people in Ukraine, Moldova, Belorussia, western Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and many other countries.
And the letters keep coming. Petrova from Kbmelnitskiy recently wrote: “Thank you for your programs. We are always waiting for your messages to be preached. Our neighbors come over to our house when your programs are on the air because they do not have a radio at their house. After your programs we pray together.”
Many listeners request New Testaments. Others ask for copies of messages on CD so they can pass them along to family members and friends.
The radio ministry has received thousands of letters from faithful listeners.
Radchuk said he was very moved by the story of one Christian couple. It was 9 p.m. that night and he was worn out after completing an evangelistic crusade, but a friend of the family pressed him to go visit the couple. “They really want to see you,” he was told.
They drove to the couple’s apartment and knocked on the door. A voice from inside asked, “Who is with you?” The friend replied, “The man you like to hear on the radio, whose ministry led you to be saved.”
When Radchuk entered the room, he realized immediately that the husband and wife were blind.
“This is a wonderful moment to have the radio preacher come visit us,” the husband said. “We hear your voice by radio, but now you are blessing us with your presence in our home.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Christian Aid Mission’s support of Radchuk’s growing ministry. In addition to radio broadcasts, he proclaims the gospel through television programming that reaches over 135 nations in the former USSR, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, parts of Africa, and North and South America.
“My message is simple,” said Radchuk. “I don’t promote a certain church or denomination. I preach the message of salvation, deliverance, of healing broken hearts and families. I just invite people to read the Bible and follow Jesus.”