American religious broadcasters are developing new alliances for overseas outreach, while being careful to develop local Christian leaders.
For many years, Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), Trans World Radio (TWR), and HCJB Radio constituted the major Christian players on the international electronic media scene. But in recent years, doors have opened for nationals to run stations locally. National Religious Broadcasters (nrb) President E. Brandt Gustavson, who also chairs TWR's board, says nrb members do not want to "lord it over" national entities but rather pray for, visit, and help them.
Broadcasters from 37 nations attended nrb's recent annual convention in Nashville, and many told accounts of gospel outreach through international partnerships. Hannu Haukka of Finland heads International Russian Radio/TV (IRR/TV), a cooperative effort to spread the Christian message in Russia. Haukka stresses a Great Commission thrust with faithful follow-up. "Sensitivity is needed to the way in which God wants us to win souls in each specific situation," he says.
Economic chaos, political uncertainty, and government regulation pose formidable challenges in Russia (CT, Dec. 7, 1998, p. 28). IRR/TV broadcasts on 50 regional channels, produces and promotes evangelistic programming in a dozen languages, and links seekers with local churches.
Superbook, an animated Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) series airing on Russia's Central Television, drew 1 million letters in 1990, according to Haukka. He says CBN organized follow-up meetings across the nation, and 190 cell churches have started because of the outreach.
TWR broadcasts 37 hours weekly to the former Soviet Union, including on Radio One, Russia's first privately owned network. The daily audience is 17 percent of all Russians.
The Middle East presents many obstacles to evangelization and radio, sometimes the only means of witnessing to Muslims. Campus Crusade for Christ, TWR, and International Broadcasting Association are involved in nine radio programs airing across Egypt and the television production of Thirsty Hearts, an Arabic evangelism program.
Producer Mounir Faragalla believes radio has a unique appeal. "Radio reaches people in the privacy of their homes, free from fear."
Last year, Lincoln, Nebraska-based Back to the Bible (BTTB) linked with TWR to produce, air, and finance special programs to women, youth, and illiterate Middle Easterners. BTTB President Woodrow Kroll says, "We decided that what we may not be able to achieve separately, with God's help surely we could accomplish together."
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