People overwhelmed by crises like the coronavirus, earthquakes or war need more than material relief – they need spiritual and emotional healing, too. That’s why TWR and Biblica are renewing their collaboration and bringing well-informed, Scripture-based programming to people trapped in traumatic circumstances.
“One reason pandemics are frightening is because they are beyond our control,” Biblica’s crisis-relief booklet When Your Whole World Changes explains to readers. “We may know what’s happening, but we don’t know how severely the impact will affect us or how long it will last. … But while we’re powerless to help ourselves, God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, remains powerful and good.”
This message is already being incorporated into TWR Africa’s new radio program Hope in Hard Times, which will soon offer guidance and encouragement to Mozambican listeners whose lives have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Program development is also underway in regions of Asia.
“This content draws people to the true hope of Christ in times of crisis,” said Sphiwe Nxumalo-Ngwenya, TWR’s ministry director for southern Africa. “It’s organized to address the various phases emotionally and socially or psychologically that are faced by people when their whole world unexpectedly changes.”
TWR, also known as Trans World Radio, is mainly focused on missions and not disaster relief, but it frequently mobilizes its global media network to inform and encourage people struggling to survive and recover after major disasters. Content from When Your Whole World Changes has been used in programs responding to crises like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and many others.
Now, TWR and Biblica, previously called the International Bible Society, have formalized what had been an informal understanding that allows the media ministry to build on content from the booklet as well as two others for children in its special programming to global hot spots. Tom Watkins, TWR director of strategic initiatives and partnerships, said the emergency nature of these efforts requires a rapid response and having biblically sound, expertly prepared multilingual materials available greatly expedites the process.
“We are excited to reaffirm and formalize our global partnership with TWR because they have such a powerful platform to engage so many people across the globe through radio,” said Biblica Senior Vice President of Global Ministry Laura Fisher. “Biblica is committed to working in partnership with other ministries to release God’s Word, and TWR is an excellent, like-minded partner. With Biblica’s many translations of Scripture and biblical resources and TWR’s global reach through radio, together we can meet a vital need to address those who are in crisis, hurting and searching for answers that only God can provide.”
Prepared for the Next Crisis
Watkins decided it was time to sign a formal global agreement when he learned two things: that Biblica had recently put out a special edition of When Your Whole World Changes updated with COVID-related messages and that TWR production teams were eager to put it to use in new programs aimed at helping listeners deal with the pandemic. He worked with LaReau Anderson, Biblica’s Senior Director of Global Partnerships, and specialists in intellectual property rights to iron out the details and implement the global agreement.
“The whole idea is to help the listener by saying, ‘Your total life isn’t going to be the same. How do you cope with this kind of trauma?’” Watkins said. “This is an opportunity to show how the gospel is really a powerful, powerful concept. This is a time when people are most likely to be open, when they’re thinking, ‘There's got to be something else I can depend on in life, because everything that I've had has kind of let me down. I don't have anything left.’ The big news here is that with this global agreement, we're well-positioned for responding when disasters occur in the future. And the urgency of COVID right now was particularly a motivating factor.”
TWR Chief Content Officer Jon Fugler said he is thrilled to have Biblica’s relevant, proven content to augment the ministry’s programming response to the pandemic. Not long after the pandemic erupted, TWR’s broadcast and digital response ramped up and has continued expanding in many regions of the world.
“We provided both health information and spiritual content and continue to do so,” Fugler said. “As we move forward, we are incorporating programming that deals with the severe felt needs people are facing. The Biblica content is a perfect resource at the perfect time for us.”