TWR is celebrating its 60th anniversary of Gospel broadcasting by expanding its reach to even more people needing hope in places like Cuba, China and Afghanistan.
Not content to rest on yesterday’s accomplishments, TWR officials offer thanks for six decades of God’s blessings but insist on keeping the spotlight on the media ministry’s newest initiatives.
“It’s a privilege to be living under the call of God for 60 years,” says Lauren Libby, president of TWR International. “Not only a privilege, but also a legacy that we go into the future with. Our founder, Dr. Paul Freed, believed God for big things. We’re still doing that. And the goal is still the world, the gospel of Jesus Christ and producing lasting fruit by mass media.”
Signing on the air from Tangier, Morocco, on Feb. 22, 1954, the ministry that would become TWR relied on one 2,500-watt Army-surplus transmitter for broadcasting to Spain in three languages. Today TWR uses 20 high-powered transmitting sites, 2,000 local stations worldwide and other media to speak hope in more than 230 languages to a potential audience of roughly 4 billion in 160 countries.
A variety of observances are planned as part of the yearlong celebration. Already underway on the ministry’s main website, TWR.org, is a weekly rotation of stories based on responses from TWR audience members. The 60 “listener stories” are being compiled in a booklet, Stories of Hope, that will be available upon request.
On Feb. 20, 2014, the anniversary will be the focus of two events: first, a commemorative video conference for TWR staff around the world; and later, a special open-to-the-public installment of the webinar-style Insider Update. Participants who sign up at www.twr.org/insider for the free noon event will join President Libby online or by phone to hear his personal perspectives on TWR’s past and future operations.
There are plenty of highlights to be thankful for over the past 60 years, as this sampling indicates:
- Moving from Tangier to Monte Carlo, where broadcasts went out to much of Europe and beyond from a facility originally built to spread Nazi propaganda.
- Establishing on the Caribbean island of Bonaire what was then the most powerful transmitter in the Western Hemisphere and then beaming life-changing messages to Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and elsewhere.
- Piercing the Iron Curtain with rare spiritual nourishment for countless eager listeners, one of whom recounted how Hungarians received broadcasts with the sound turned low and their ears pressed against the radios.
- Building powerful transmitters in southern and western Africa and on Guam, from which the signal is beamed to much of Asia and far into China. TWR’s Radio Church Kits help nurture growing house churches in China.
- Forming Project Hannah, which offers compassion, encouragement and hope to suffering women worldwide through prayer, awareness and radio programming.
- Multiplying its outreach through new technology with projects such as TWR360, the world’s premier global online tool for accessing Christian media resources in the users’ heart languages, and the distribution of Secure Digital cards containing Bible lessons to hundreds of small study groups in India.
But TWR advocates emphasize that those accomplishments are merely milestones on the road to future missionary endeavors.
- Sparking lots of excitement among ministry supporters is the fledgling PANI project, now fine-tuning a 500,000-watt AM transmitter’s ability to carry programming to prospective listeners in Pakistan, Afghanistan and North India, where most of the population knows little about or is hostile to Jesus Christ.
- The previously mentioned Bonaire AM transmitter is slated for an upgrade to 450,000 watts, boosting its capacity to reach consistently most of Cuba and far southward into Brazil.
- Digital ventures are on the rise, with TWR360, for example, expected to add significantly to the seven languages and more than 70 content providers already available on the site.
Libby is quick to point out, however, that these goals and many more for the years ahead are conditioned upon the Lord’s daily direction and the prayer and financial commitment of thousands of TWR supporters.
“God has used you to touch people each and every day,” Libby tells supporters. “I mean, today that reach potentially touches more than 4 billion people every day. Without you that wouldn’t happen. So as a family, we have made this happen, and as a family, I believe God is going to continue to have us work together until he brings down the curtain on this current chapter in human history.”