In 1985, God gave a remarkable vision to the leaders of Trans World Radio, Far East Broadcasting Company, SIM, and HCJB World Radio to combine their efforts in pursuit of a truly daunting Great Commission goal. That goal, known as the World by 2000 Commitment, states,
"We are committed to provide every man, woman and child on earth the opportunity to turn on their radios and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in the language they can understand so they can become followers of Christ and responsible members of His church.
We plan to complete this task by the year 2000."
The cooperative World by 2000 vision was born. Combined population and linguistics research soon revealed the enormity of the task. Although Christian broadcasts in well over 100 languages were already on the air in 1985, approximately 200 additional mega-languages would need to be added by the end of the millennium.
Since 1985, by God's grace, the gospel has made many breathtaking advances. Scores of pioneering broadcasts have been launched in previously unreached mega-languages (spoken by at least one million people). Additional ministries like FEBA (broadcasting from the Seychelles) and Words of HOPE quickly became active participants in the World by 2000 effort. Partners are launching new joint ventures like the HCJB/Trans World Radio ALAS Spanish satellite network to Latin America.
The partnership demonstrated in World by 2000 provides a great model of biblical cooperation. The leadership of the partner ministries meet together regularly to coordinate new ministry developments and share their short and long-term plans. These efforts have contributed to maintaining a focus on the unfinished task and specific actions needed in moving towards the goal of world evangelization and discipleship of believers while reducing redundant effort.
Several encouraging developments have demonstrated how the coordination of ministries has helped to reduce redundancy and assist in moving towards the goal of adding more languages to the broadcast schedules. These include sharing of facilities, joint strategy meetings, making air time available to one another on transmitters capable of reaching specific target areas where ones own transmitter is unable to provide a good signal, sharing of technical and training personnel and expertise, and a prayer commitment for one another.
The coordination and cooperation seen among the five international broadcast ministries sharing the World by 2000 commitment extends also to a number of World by 2000 Associates. These Associates have joined in the World by 2000 commitment to broadcast through facilities under their control, take the responsibility to produce programs, research, or financially support at least one World by 2000 language.
The World by 2000 International Radio Research Office has identified 372 languages in the world spoken by more than one million people. This represents 97% of the world's population and the primary, but not exclusive, focus of the international radio ministries.
We are encouraged by the 47 languages added to broadcast schedules in the last five years. Missionary radio broadcasting began in 1931 in two languages. By 1985, when the World by 2000 commitment was signed, there were 170 languages with gospel broadcasts. Today we have record of 255 languages with gospel broadcasts providing 86% of the world's population with gospel broadcasts in their language. Of the 255 languages with gospel broadcasts, 172 of them are spoken by more than one million people.
The 10/40 Window is a major focus for international missionary radio. Our research shows there are 186 mega-languages, or dialects, spoken in the 10/40 Window. There are radio broadcasts available in 78 of these languages. Over 80% of the population in the 10/40 Window understand at least one of these languages and have some opportunity to hear the gospel by radio and become followers of Christ
We may be encouraged by what God is doing to enable people all over the world to hear the gospel in a language they can understand. In addition to high-powered short-wave and medium-wave transmitters broadcasting across national boundaries, local churches, para-church ministries, and individual believers are increasingly using local broadcasting in many countries where gospel broadcasts were not available before. While the geographical coverage of these local stations may not be very great, they are significant in outreach to their communities, encouraging and equipping believers in their walk with the Lord, and providing a programming resource for international broadcast ministries.
We give praise to God for the great things He is doing and for the privilege He has given to us to be laborers with Him.Arnold Remtema, U.S.A.