The words of Makhset, a Central Asian pastor who was forced out of his homeland, is one of many reasons TWR enthusiastically celebrates World Radio Day every Feb. 13.
UNESCO established World Radio Day 10 years ago to champion the medium’s valuable role in disseminating information, reaching mass audiences and allowing for free expression – all at a comparatively modest cost. TWR (also known as Trans World Radio) joins in acknowledging those strengths and thanks God for this technology that enables the 67-year-old media ministry to overcome countless barriers and help grow disciples in every nation.
One of those barriers is persecution, which Makhset knows firsthand because authorities in his homeland discourage Christian practices. Believers in this Central Asian nation often wait until after 11 p.m. to gather for worship and fellowship because police have usually gone home by that hour, said Makhset, whose last name is withheld for security reasons.
“When we had no Bibles, we heard preaching from Trans World Radio and encouraged each other,” he said. “Media and Trans World Radio, I think, are very important to our country.”
TWR’s broadcasts in over 275 languages around the world introduce listeners to Jesus Christ, provide in-depth Bible study, and offer scripturally based advice and encouragement for life. By phone, text and letter, TWR follow-up teams answer questions and interact with listeners.
TWR President Lauren Libby said, “When it comes to people who are persecuted, we use radio to provide them comfort, encouragement and hope from the Word of God. We remind them that what matters most is God’s kingdom, and that is something far more important than people who crave power and influence. We help promote a kingdom with an everlasting value system – one that says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ and ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”
Listeners in other lands echo Makhset’s sentiments, like this one in Ethiopia who sent a text message: “People fear to go out from their home even to attend church services on Sunday morning, being afraid to be chased, persecuted, killed and harassed by armed forces. … Actually, through the program Thru the Bible, I learned and equipped myself with the Word of God. We need your prayers!”
And from North Korea, perennially ranked as the country in which Christians face the most persecution, another listener wrote, “The radio is our only tool to hear about the Bible and other news from the outside world.” In fact, when radio and online outreaches are combined, TWR ministers to all 50 countries cited on Open Doors’ World Watch List for having high levels of persecution.
TWR’s worldwide outreach also exemplifies other benefits of radio that UNESCO stresses, among them service to marginalized communities, to illiterate listeners, and to populations overwhelmed by natural and man-made crises. TWR frequently mobilizes its global network to provide special programming during crises – as it did during Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and the civil war in Syria. During the past year, TWR found that radio was uniquely suited for providing information, spiritual support and connection with the outside world during the COVID-19 crisis.
A Bolivian man who is the father of a large family emailed to say, “I went to get a checkup, and it turned out I had the coronavirus. We had very difficult moments with this illness. Some days we were depressed, and we were isolated in my house for months. The radio was always with us all day and all night. … This is great medicine for my life and for my family in times of a pandemic. We are really grateful to God for working on the radio.”