TWR is celebrating World Radio Day 2018 by highlighting the oft-overlooked strength of radio to convey important information to nonreaders.
This valuable role was cited in 2011 when UNESCO established Feb. 13 as the day of annual observance to acknowledge and promote the essential contributions of the radio. Describing the medium as a powerful, low-cost communication tool, UNESCO’s World Radio Day proclamation emphasized many of the strengths that also enable TWR to be uniquely effective at ministering to 190 countries in over 230 languages:
“Radio is specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people: the illiterate, the disabled, women, youth and the poor, while offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.”
TWR’s media ministry is active in virtually all these ways, overcoming obstacles of remoteness and government restrictions with diverse, Bible-based programming tailored to women, men and children. In times of crisis – such as deadly storms in the Caribbean and the Philippines or political conflict in Syria – TWR’s far-flung radio network conveys essential information, trauma counseling and spiritual encouragement.
But a less-recognized core strength of TWR is sharing the gospel with listeners in oral cultures – in other words, societies that prize oral over written communication. A listener of TWR programs in the Gujarati language of India told how the experience changed his life.
“I … grew up like my tribal family before me, mostly illiterate and often dumbfounded by the topics we heard being discussed as we sat around the village campfire at night.”
Eventually the man was introduced to TWR’s broadcasts, and he was thrilled to hear content that he could relate to. When a stomach ailment incapacitated him, the listener recalled, he prayed for God’s help after listening to one of the gospel programs, and the pain went away!
He has faithfully tuned into TWR’s programming for spiritual nurture, he said, and now has accepted Christ and begun attending church.
“I feel quite fortunate that you take the trouble to broadcast so clearly and faithfully your various radio programs to the far corners of India,” he said. “The greatest irony is that after coming to know God’s love, I feel less conscious of my illiteracy. Today, I believe I am the most learned man in the universe because I know the truth.”
Thousands of miles away, another listener got in touch with the ministry to tell how the radio broadcasts not only led her to Christ but also helped spur her to develop a new skill. The Dominican woman said she was saved after hearing programs from TWR’s Bonaire station, which recently has undergone a massive transmission upgrade and is now known as Shine 800 AM.
“I didn’t know how to read, but I bought a Bible and learned,” she wrote. “My husband would say to me: ‘You are getting crazy. You cannot keep off this radio.’ But it was in this way that I got encouraged and learned to read, and today I follow Christ.”