Photo 1: (From left) Todd Isberner, Lauren Libby, Annabel Muscarella and Esteban Larrosa in the studio during SHINE. Photo 2: (From left) Andy Napier and Brad Swanson oversee technical production during the share-a-thon.
— Matthew 5:16
A WhatsApp text message from Yelitza in Venezuela hints at the reason TWR leaders are calling the first SHINE share-a-thon from Bonaire a success.
“It’s a blessing to hear you because God speaks to us through you, and you have helped me in my spiritual life day after day,” Yelitza wrote. “You are my companion when I wake up each morning. Congratulations and may the Lord continue to bless you.”
SHINE, broadcast Feb. 7-9, 2017, from the studios of TWR’s transmitting center on Bonaire, was like similar events at Christian stations in the United States as “we invited listeners to come alongside and be part of this ministry financially,” said John Summerville, TWR director of special events. But, he added, it was also more than that, “a celebration of what God is doing through the listeners and the ministry of Trans World Radio.”
TWR CEO Lauren Libby, who joined Summerville and others for the SHINE broadcasts, said, “The important thing is our listeners are engaging, and we’re asking them to have a part through prayer and have a part through finances. … What we’re hearing from people is the indispensable part that the Bonaire station plays in the spiritual development of the people.”
In this premiere edition of SHINE, raising money to help cover the costs of sharing the gospel with millions across Latin American and the Caribbean was less important than were factors such as connecting with the audience, introducing the new concept, and working out the inevitable bugs. But a surprising number of listeners caught the vision immediately and made donations.
Responses to the share-a-thon came from 11 countries, with donations coming from 10 of those. A couple in Cuba called all three nights to say they listen faithfully to TWR programming and to offer their blessings on the ministry. Summerville said preliminary reports put the donation total from all three days at $18,000, that amount doubled by a generous matching contribution.
Margaria in Venezuela, a country hard hit by an ongoing financial and political crisis, texted, “I am learning more every day. For me it is a true joy. I would like to support you financially on a monthly basis and, in that way, make it possible for the gospel to reach to the ends of the earth.”
TWR CEO Libby said, “We’ve received financial donations, we’ve received encouragement, we’ve received prayer support. We’ve had people who text us and say, ‘We’re with you, and we’d like banking information because we’ll be giving.’ So, it’s been pretty encouraging.”
Joining Libby and Summerville on the air for the English portions of SHINE was Todd Isberner, president of ShareMedia fundraising consultants. Esteban Larrosa, director of RTM (Spanish for TWR) Uruguay, Jim Munger and Annabel Muscarella, director and program manager, respectively, of TWR’s U.S. Hispanic Ministry, handled on-air duties during the Spanish portions. Brad Swanson, assistant director of the Bonaire station, and Andy Napier, the producer of TWR’s Footsteps radio feature, oversaw the audio and other technical functions of the broadcasts.