'World by Radio' Effort Makes Gospel Available to 650 Million Unreached People

World by Radio
Int'l Radio Resource Office
P.O. Box 62577
Colorado Springs, CO 80962-2577
Telephone: (719) 548-7490
Fax: (719) 548-7491
E-mail: irro@wbradio.org
Website: www.wbradio.org
     World by Radio Partners
Back to the Bible: (402) 464-7200
Feba Radio: +44-1903-237281
Galcom Int'l: (905) 574-4626
HCJB World Radio (719) 590-9800
IBRA Radio: +46-8-608-96-80
SIM: (704) 588-4300
Trans World Radio: (919) 460-3700
Voice of Friendship (FEBC): (562) 947-4651
Words of Hope: (616) 459-6181


COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - More than 650 million people around the world can now hear the gospel via radio in a language they can understand as a result of a 15-year cooperative effort by international Christian broadcasters.

Since 1985 new radio programs have been made available to 111 of the world's major languages comprising about 11 percent of the global population. It's all part of an effort called World by Radio (originally known as World by 2000). This was the vision of the presidents of Far East Broadcasting Co. (now Voice of Friendship), HCJB World Radio, SIM and Trans World Radio to give everyone the opportunity to hear gospel broadcasts in their native tongue. Later joining the effort were Back to the Bible, Feba Radio, Galcom International, IBRA Radio, Words of Hope and others.

When the goal was agreed to on Sept. 10, 1985, language data suggested that there were 128 major groups without Christian radio broadcasts. Further research showed that more than 200 of the 372 megalanguages (those with at least 1 million speakers) were still in need of Christian broadcasts.

World by Radio researcher Arnie Remtema says that as of this July, 111 more languages had Christian broadcasts than in 1985. Another 90 have shown to be adequately covered by other languages, leaving 78 languages that still await production and airing of programs. These remaining languages are spoken by an estimated 380 million people. Those who now can hear the gospel because of the World by Radio effort are primarily in the "10/40 Window" between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude and stretching from West Africa to Japan-a region with 3.2 billion people, 95 percent of whom are unevangelized.

"Just over half of the languages that have been added are spoken in Asia and Southeast Asia, including India, China and Indonesia," Remtema says. Cooperation among the ministries also has helped eliminate overlapping of efforts, speeding the task of world evangelism while saving valuable resources, Remtema says. "World by Radio has provided a networking model for ministry," says Remtema. "The partners in the commitment have experienced the synergism of meeting, praying and working together, bearing each other's burdens and sharing in the joys of victories won." World by Radio has been used by a variety of ministry organizations as a model of how cooperation can be used to more effectively and efficiently spread the gospel to the unreached.

With the end of the year 2000 just months away, will the vision come to an abrupt halt? "Not at all," Remtema says. "That's why the vision is now called World by Radio. The partner broadcasters are continuing to put new languages on the air and working to increase the quantity and quality of programs already being aired to unreached people groups."

Constantly changing communication technology also is opening up new ways to spread the gospel into previously unreached areas. "Netcasting," for example, is quickly gaining momentum as more and more people worldwide gain access to the Internet where they can hear radio programs on Web sites. An Associated Press article in the June 25, 2000 Colorado Springs Gazette says that by 2005 "everyone in the world should have Internet access, even if they have to walk for half a day to a computer or cell phone.

"The term netcasting is an interesting spiritual picture," Remtema explains. "It's like throwing out a spiritual net. Jesus said, 'I will make you fishers of men' (Matthew 4:19)."

Putting religious programs and written communication on the Internet is also reaching people who would normally never listen to a Christian radio program or attend a church service. "We've got to be really creative and culturally in tune with people," he says. Remtema sees an increasing trend to "radio planting"-a term coined by HCJB World President Ron Cline where mission organizations work with local partners to start Christian stations around the world. Remtema also foresees increased direct broadcasting via satellite, especially in North Africa and the Middle East where a high proportion of the population owns a satellite dish.

Meanwhile, reports continue to pour in from listeners around the world saying the gospel message has changed their lives.

Crossing Barriers

With missionary radio one of the most effective-and sometimes the only-means of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the Middle East, Trans World Radio (TWR) airs more than 60 hours of programming to this volatile region each week in a dozen languages. The latest is Sudanese Arabic, one of 58 World By Radio languages in which TWR broadcasts to listeners in more than 160 countries.

Sudan, a nation of 33 million, has been devastated by a bloody 16-year civil war, extreme poverty, recurring severe famines and, in the case of fellow believers in southern Sudan, harsh persecution.

Last November TWR began airing "Song of Hope," a weekly 15-minute Sudanese Arabic program. Development of a follow-up center in Sudan is underway and needs prayer due to the dangers involved in such an undertaking.

"Song of Hope" is already making a lasting impact in the lives of listeners. One wrote recently: "Greetings to each one who participates in this broadcast which fills hearts and minds with the right teaching. I wait eagerly for this program. I would like to tell you that my husband died and left me alone in this world suffering with pain. Yet, I am waiting for God's consolation through your broadcast. Please keep on presenting it because it's the only comforter."

Lives Changed Through Yao Programs

Anton Meyer, Feba Radio's Yao language coordinator in Blantyre, Malawi, tells the story of what happened on a recording trip to the Mangochi region near Lake Malawi. The largest group of Malawi's million or more Yao people live in this area. The Yao are mainly Muslim and also live in Mozambique and Tanzania.

"My wife, Lucy, our Yao producer, Amos Phiri, and I were in Mangochi gathering interviews for Yao programs," Meyer relates. "Amos had received a letter from Steven Gama, a listener who told him how much the Yao programs meant to him. He had become a Christian through listening, and Amos had set up an interview with him.

"Like most Malawians, Steven has a happy personality and a ready smile. He told me he'd led the life of a gambler and won a lot of money playing cards. 'This life is behind me now,' he said. 'I got to know the Lord Jesus Christ when I tuned in to the Yao radio programs. It was the Friday Scripture programs that changed my life. As I am talking to you now, I know for sure that I am saved!'

"It was a great thrill to met Steven, who thinks his wife is also close to accepting Jesus into her life. But the Lord had greater blessings in store," Meyer says. "Steven brought along his friend, Leonard Thadzi, who had also been listening to the Yao programs. Now he needed someone to help him meet 'this Jesus I have heard about.'"

'Jesus' Death Made Me Change'

Leonard's radio was wrecked when the motorbike he was riding was hit by a car. But he continues to listen on a friend's radio. He said he had lived a "bad life," but then he heard the programs and said, "One day I was listening to a program which spoke of the death of Jesus. This was what made me change."

"I explained the way of salvation to Leonard," Meyer says, "and Amos interpreted for him into Yao. Leonard decided to accept Jesus and prayed as we helped him. Both he and Steven now attend the same church and worship the Lord together.

"While this was happening, lots of children gathered round Lucy who was holding up a radio tuned in to a Yao broadcast. The parents soon came to see what the commotion was about and heard the program as well. Amos was quick to take the opportunity and taped an interview with one of the mothers.

"We marvel at the things the Lord does-that day He had chosen us to be there and see Him at work."

Kimbundu Broadcasts Have Strong Spiritual Impact

Kimbundu programs jointly sponsored by HCJB World Radio and Trans World Radio since 1994 are transforming the lives of many of the 3 million speakers who live in Angola. Listeners write regularly to say how the daily programs-produced by local believers and aired from Trans World Radio's shortwave site in Swaziland-are making a difference in this poor, war-ravaged country.

"Many people here have accepted the Lord as their personal Savior through your programs," wrote a listener recently from the Angolan capital of Luanda. "They are very happy to listen and for the opportunity to grow spiritually.

"An old man encouraged his son to listen to your program, and today he is a completely changed person. He wanted me to thank you for spreading the Word of God through radio. He told me, 'I am amazed at what the Lord has done in my son's life. He stopped smoking, drinking and other vices, and now he is attending church regularly.' A listener from Uige wrote to say that 27 listeners gather nightly to hear the broadcasts.

"The program has been a comfort and spiritual nourishment, even under the fire of war that has been taking hundreds of lives daily-men, women and innocent children. Many times we cannot attend services on Sundays in the churches due to the intense and cruel war, but with radio sets we gather in a place in the bush and listen to the exhortation from the radio in our Kimbundu language."

A similar letter came from Bengo: "Even those who do not like going to church enjoy and listen attentively to your program. We are a group of 30 people who gather daily around the radio."

A listener in Dembos asked for a copy of the Kimbundu Scriptures so local Christians can hold Bible studies. "More than 150 people have been present while your program is airing," he wrote.

"What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" asked a listener in Luanda. "Please help me! I don't miss any of your program because I want to know God personally."

Another listener in Luanda said the programs helped save her marriage. "I was separated from my husband for three years, but we reconciled due to listening to this program. For us, radio has been our counselor. We don't have supper until after listening to the program each evening."

Reaching Zambia's Bemba People

HCJB World Radio is also getting increased response from the latest World by Radio language on its list to go on the air, Bemba, spoken by 3.5 million people in Zambia. A cooperative project involving HCJB World Radio, In Touch Ministries and local believers, half-hour broadcasts aired twice weekly began in February. Programs air nationwide on Zambia's Radio One network, listened to by half the country's 9.5 million inhabitants. "The response was slow at first," wrote Misheck Zulu, the Bemba program producer, "but there has been tremendous feedback. People are finding these programs to be just what was needed on the airwaves.

"I just came from a pastors' conference, and many of the pastors reported positive responses from their areas as people are becoming aware of the broadcast. Praise the Lord that even those who do not know Christ are now beginning to respond and asking what they need to do to make their lives right with Christ. We are finally getting through, and people are realizing that the program is there.

"I appreciate this opportunity to minister the Word in this way," Zulu adds. "I had never considered radio ministry as being mine, and now this is just beyond my understanding. It is simply humbling. Pray for the maximum effect of the messages an that many will not only encounter Christ but that many would make adjustments in obeying Christ." Roger Stubbe of HCJB World Radio's International Radio Group says the quality of the Bemba programs "so impressed the radio network that they are now airing the programs a second time each week at no extra charge."

Back to the AD2000 home page