Behind the Scenes
Media ministry – from fundraising to production, from presentation to follow-up – entails a whole world of unique joys and challenges that often go on behind the scenes unnoticed. When successfully executed, the compelling radio programs, intuitive smartphone apps and sleek internet resources may appear effortless, as if they came out of thin air. But the TWR team of creative souls and technical geniuses – and, most importantly, God – knows the true story of the sweat, blood and tears that actually went into the production of that 20-minute segment.
For instance, the audience will likely never be able to appreciate the hours of editing it took to achieve the perfect loudness level or understand the tedious task of correctly naming the metadata when uploading the files or consider the complexities of reporting on a project in which a program’s audience is in a closed country and therefore unable to provide any listener responses.Yet, challenging as this may be at times, that’s a big reason why the National Partner Conference exists – to remind TWR staff and partners that their work matters and to provide them with spiritual encouragement and practical training in the ever-evolving realm of media.
A little history
Though there were a handful of more sporadic meetings beforehand, the first official Annual Partner Conference began in 1994 as a meeting place for TWR executives and chairmen of various boards involved in TWR’s ministry in Europe. Today, it has expanded into a robust community and much-anticipated event marked by time-honored traditions such as the partnership agreement signing that takes place every three years, the tithe project, which funds several media projects and ample relationship-building opportunities during mealtimes, coffee breaks and designated networking times. Perhaps the most important contribution of the NPC, however, is that it is a forum for like-minded individuals to share information, build and re-build relationships of trust and receive spiritual encouragement. NPC is an especially unique opportunity for TWR partners who work in more sensitive regions because it allows them to freely fellowship with other believers and share about their ministries.
A new name
After one year away, and with a new name to reflect the brief hiatus, the National Partner Conference continued its 20+ year legacy of connecting TWR Europe and CAMENA (Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa) partners and affiliates to exchange ideas, share both struggles and opportunities and form bonds of friendship in Bratislava, Slovakia, April 19–22.
This year, the conference brought together 115 individuals from around 30 nations. A variety of twelve workshops explored topics including creating a fund development action plan, understanding the needs of audiences, planning for multi-purpose/multi-platform media productions, understanding issues of oppressed women in the Middle East and learning about new ways to achieve loudness consistency in audio productions. Adding to the sweetness of this year’s NPC included morning devotions led by Project Hannah coordinator of Northern Ireland, Yvonne Knox, exciting testimonies by various partners, updates on TWR’s media outreach to refugees in Europe and an emotional retirement tribute to Werner Krömer, former vice president of global operations for TWR.
Since TWR is a global media organization who relies heavily on indigenous partner ministries to carry out the culture and language-specific work of radio and listener follow-up, the NPC is essential for maintaining an aligned vision among the more than 30 national partners in the Europe and CAMENA regions. NPC takes into account the fact that TWR partners come from a variety of backgrounds and offer a diverse array of resources.
Something for everyone
NPC has something to offer everyone. For those long established with TWR, the NPC allows them to reunite with old friends and find encouragement from those who speak their same “media language" and understand the unique struggles associated with media ministry. For those new to TWR – including one participant who’d joined TWR only six weeks prior to NPC – the conference allows them to acclimate to TWR culture and make sense of how the various puzzle pieces of national partnership form the bigger picture of reaching the world for Christ by mass media so that lasting fruit is produced.
“Let me share my appreciation for all you and your teams did to make this year's NPC a highly memorable and valuable event,” wrote one attendee. “The event was carried out in a professional way, but with many personal touches that helped promote relationship-building and a sense of family. I was honored to be a part of the gathering, and I am very thankful for the opportunity it afforded to meet with many members of your teams.”
One sister from Ukraine shared that the event was the most moving and blessed event she’d ever attended. “I look back on the conference in Bratislava with great joy – for [our] part, it was probably one of the most fruitful events I've ever attended,” wrote another participant.
To those of you who attended and supported the National Partner Conference 2016, thank you! May God bless and keep you until we meet again.
Story by Anna Waller