After years of self-restraint, Christians in Latin America are embracing mass media to convey the gospel message.

However, faced with slick competition from expanding, professionally produced secular media, Christian television and radio outlets are being urged to produce programs of higher quality.

"We have to put aside the mentality that we are poor, that we don't have the resources," Raul Justiniano, president of COICOM—Ibero-American Confederation of Christian Communicators and Mass Media—told delegates to the annual conference September 26-29 in Quito, Ecuador. COICOM is the Latin American counterpart to National Religious Broadcasters.

"Right now the Lord is giving us opportunities, and we have to prepare ourselves for excellence," said Justiniano, a Bolivian. "In that way we will be a better witness for Christ in the continent."

REACHING THE MASSES: Underscoring the move to expand and improve the quality of communication, the confederation announced a "mega strategy" called the "1,000-Days Plan" designed to place professional quality spots and programs in secular media to reach all of Latin America in the final thousand days of the century.

"Our thousand-days plan is a mass blitz with Judeo-Christian values coming from the Scriptures," said Larry Buckman, the Quito-based executive director of COICOM. "It is intended to reach those who have never heard the gospel."

At every session, the more than 800 delegates in attendance heard challenges to reach out beyond their present ministries and upgrade their quality.

Workshops offered participants the opportunity to hone their skills in television and radio production, in programs designed especially for women and children, plus in technical skills such as automation, ...

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