Feedback from Cubans about TWR’s plan to raise its broadcasting wattage on Bonaire might sound vaguely familiar to fans of 1980s movies: If you boost it, we will listen.
That’s the sense conveyed in a recent report from TWR representatives who encountered Cubans eager to tune in to the gospel on the airwaves despite having to struggle with technical interference. Unlike the old film, the appropriate response to these listeners’ entreaty is not to build a baseball diamond but to boost the 100,000 watts of AM transmitter power from Bonaire by four to five times.
“The interest of Cuban Christians and many people to listen Christian radio programs allows them to keep listening no matter the noise, jamming or the weak signal,” a Cuban Christian leader informed TWR. “It is also exciting for Cuban people to listen to foreign radio stations. Cubans keep praying Bonaire could increase the broadcast power as soon as possible because it is very important for us. It is obvious our people are willing to listen to the gospel in a way never seen before.”
For many years, TWR broadcast from Bonaire at a half-million watts but then made the transition to 100,000 watts in 1999 to reduce operating costs. In the summer of 2013, the ministry’s international board decided to undertake the return to higher power, a move already legally permissible because of a license granted the year before. The upgrade is projected to cost more than $3 million and would extend a much stronger AM signal well into northern Brazil and into Cuba, whose northwest-southeast expanse sits roughly 700 to 1,200 miles from Bonaire.
A TWR representative who recently visited a desperately poor area in the mountains of Cuba met eager listeners of Bonaire programming.
“‘Nobody visits us ever,’ they said constantly,” reported the representative, whose identity was not disclosed. “‘It is unbelievable to have people from TWR visiting us!’ They came to see me and touch me. They were proud, telling me, ‘I am a TWR listener. Can you imagine what it means to listen to the Word of God every night in these mountains?’”
A pastor in the area told the representative that TWR broadcasts are well-respected in the area because of their pure doctrine and Bible teaching. The pastor also told of a blind man who invites his friends to his humble home every night to listen to TWR programs.
TWR planners are already organizing for the Bonaire Power Restoration Project, which likely will be launched in the spring of 2014 with a completion schedule likely measured in years rather than months. But prayer is fervently sought from the TWR family throughout the Americas and around the world so that Cuba may one day become a mission field of dreams.