Benjamin Schoun

He sat down to write the letter, not knowing if his government would ever let it leave the country. He addressed it to the Voice of Hope, the name of the broadcast Adventist World Radio transmits into his country. His words were simple and direct:

"I'm a faithful listener to the Voice of Hope. Every night, about 50 people in my village get together to listen to your radio program. Because we live in the remote mountainous area and are isolated from the outside, we have very few resources to advance our Bible knowledge. Your radio programs provide an in-depth explanation of the Word. The question marks in our minds are erased one by one. We see the mighty power of God through you."

Despite the variety of communication methods available throughout the world today, there are still places that are almost impossible for the Adventist Church to reach--places where missionaries may not enter and pastors are unable to establish churches.

Radio, however, can carry the gospel message. That is the mission of Adventist World Radio: to broadcast the Adventist hope in Christ to the hardest-to-reach people groups of the world in their own languages.

AWR has served as the mission radio arm of the church since its first broadcast in 1971. Since then, the ministry has grown to more than 60 languages, which reach 70 percent of the world through shortwave radio, AM and FM stations, and satellite. In addition, programs available on the Internet are able to be heard anywhere in the world.

A Unique Ministry
Several aspects of AWR's ministry make it unique.

1. Programs created by local people--The majority of programs that AWR broadcasts are produced in studios operated by union conferences. The producers are native speakers of the local languages, who understand their target audiences and cultural idioms.

2. Partnership with other church organizations--AWR exists to serve the various organizations of the church in their soul-winning outreach. AWR makes it possible for church entities to enter new areas and reach wider audiences. Listeners respond to the local studios, which are linked to Bible schools. Where possible, local churches follow up with visitation.

3. Use of shortwave radio--Shortwave is the most widely heard broadcast vehicle in the world. Unlike AM or FM radio waves, the signals can travel for thousands of miles, enabling AWR to reach into countries that are closed to religious broadcasts in local media. More than 2.5 billion people tune in to shortwave radio on a regular basis.

4. Priority on the 10/40 window--Of the 6.2 billion people in the world, 4.2 billion live in the 10/40 window. This area is also the place where there are the fewest Christians, and it is our greatest mission challenge today. AWR places a priority on broadcasting to people groups that are difficult to reach in other ways.

5. Programming for a non-Christian audience--For many listeners, an AWR program is the first time they have heard about God's love. Producers use many approaches to create programs that meet listeners' needs, from health discussions and family life features to Bible studies and locally recorded music. This listener in the Middle East wrote:

"I am a 15-year-old girl. I bought a Bible, and I started to browse through it to understand Christianity. When I discovered your station, I felt very happy because it answered most of my questions and has become a guide for me. I hope that you will continue guiding us."

Growth and Change
In the five years since the 2000 General Conference session, AWR has met challenges and celebrated progress.

  • Eighteen new languages have been added to the broadcast schedule. Ten new languages are scheduled to begin airing in 2005.

  • In 2001 an initial disappointment changed to renewed faith in God's leading. AWR had planned to build a shortwave radio "superstation" in Italy to cover a significant portion of the 10/40 window. The project had received generous church and member support and reached the ground-breaking stage, when local residents suddenly voted to restrict the height of the antennas, rendering the future facility insufficient for shortwave broadcasting. As AWR began to regroup from this discouraging turn of events, an unexpected opportunity arose to lease airtime on government-owned transmitters in the United Arab Emirates. This move proved highly beneficial, as the UAE transmitters provided superior coverage and did not require the expense of maintaining a private station.

  • The role of the operations center at AWR's facility in England was greatly expanded in 2002 to provide satellite feeds not only to the European region, but also to the Asian and African regions.

  • The African region staff moved from Nairobi, Kenya, to new offices in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the Asia/Pacific region, the office was relocated from Seoul, South Korea, to Singapore to provide a more central location in relation to local studios.

  • In 2003 AWR traded a transmitter to Radio Netherlands in exchange for airtime at their station on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. This enables AWR to broadcast Spanish programming into Cuba.

  • AWR operations in the Americas region were reorganized in 2004 and merged with the Adventist Media Center in Brazil. AWR's highly popular live call-in program Open Clinic was moved from Costa Rica to an AWR studio in Puerto Rico.

  • The English Language Service in the United Kingdom, in operation since 1994, was transformed from a centralized model to a regional one at the end of 2004. The production of English language programs will be continued in Africa and Asia by local producers to better meet local needs.

  • In early 2005 AWR celebrated the completion of a four-year modernization project at its shortwave station on the Pacific island of Guam. The upgrades include five new transmitters and corresponding control system, an erosion control project, building renovations, and a large new generator. These improvements are helping to ensure that the station can provide the most reliable broadcast service possible.

    Plans for Progress
    Adventist World Radio is
    poised and ready to advance its outreach more widely to the people groups that are its highest priority.

    One of AWR's goals during the next five years is to increase the attractiveness and effectiveness of the programs made for special groups. This is called contextualization, and AWR plans to help producers prepare programs that are appropriate for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, animists, atheists/secularists, and those who hold other widespread ideologies.

    AWR also wants to encourage greater integration of its radio ministry with other ministries of the church. This involves adequate follow-up of listeners, more resources in local languages, and better coordination with Global Mission Pioneers and other workers.

    The age of missions is not past, and the work that AWR does is still essential.

    For more information, please contact:

    Adventist World Radio
    12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, Maryland 20904 U.S.A.
    Toll-free in North America: 1-800-337-4297
    Phone: 301-680-6304
    Fax: 301-680-6303

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