If certain mission-appeal brochures are correct, somewhere there’s a believer in a Bible-deprived Iron Curtain country hunched over his short-wave set, pencil and notepad in hand—listening to a missionary station in the West broadcast Scripture passages at dictation speed.

That is one of the more glamorously advertised aspects of missionary broadcasting, which for the most part conforms to a time-honored format of sermons, Bible teaching, music, news, and prayers. There have been a few innovations lately, however. One of them is KGEI’s series of programs beamed to Latin America explaining and upholding the civil rights of much-abused South American Indians. The 50,000-watt Far East Broadcast Company station on the San Francisco peninsula is run by Jim Bowman, son of Far East’s co-founder and president Bob Bowman.

Missionary radio broadcasting got its start on Christmas Day forty-two years ago when a tiny transmitter on an Equadorian mountain beamed a gospel message to Latin America. Today, station HCJB (Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings) in Quito is one of a select Breed of broadcast facilities that reach into the nooks and crannies of the globe delivering the Gospel in most of the world’s major languages—hurdling the barrier of illiteracy.

The breed has grown since 1931 (previously, in 1924, a Dutch group had begun gospel programming to Holland) to include sixty-five missionary groups and numerous other organizations that produce programming but are not engaged in broadcasting. Chief among the mission groups are World Radio Missionary Fellowship (WRMF) in Miami, which operates HCJB, among others; the California-based Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), which boasts twenty-two stations around the world; and Trans-World Radio ...

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