Opening a World of Opportunity
When catastrophe hits, we turn on the news or reach for our phones for information and updates. But what about families living in remote regions of East Africa? They flip on the radio. Radios are as much a staple in many African households as computers are in ours.
February 13 is World Radio Day! While that may seem like just another fun thing to read about on Facebook – kind of like National Donut Day – World Radio Day is far more noteworthy than we tend to recognize. In rural regions of developing nations like Uganda, radio is the primary way people learn about natural disasters, major news developments, disease (think COVID-19) and even the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, for this World Radio Day, we want to share some incredible impact stories about our radio ministry.
Radio as a Necessity
In Northern Uganda and parts of South Sudan, even the essentials can be hard to come by. 4africa strives to meet basic needs through clean water, preventative health, and education opportunities. When the pandemic hit, the vulnerable people living in these areas needed access to vital information and resources in order to combat the virus. Radio broadcasts quickly became our primary way of promptly getting prevention messages dispersed among a widespread population – from the crowded refugee settlements to the remote rural areas.
Why We Celebrate World Radio Day
If you ever had the chance to talk to Milton, 4africa’s Ministry Program Manager, you could tell from his tone that radio ministry is dear to his heart. At first, radio ministry seemed like a temporary fix – it started on a whim out of desperate circumstances. But soon, it became clear that God intended to use for more.
When the pandemic first hit, 4africa’s ministry team quickly put their heads together. Since government mandates prohibited groups from meeting and gathering, they had to think of creative ways to encourage people, counsel families, and share the hope of Jesus. During the lockdown, people couldn’t even go to school or work, much less gather for church and Bible studies.
The team tossed around the idea of radio broadcasts. It seemed a bit impersonal for their liking – most of our ministry involves authentic personal relationships – but that was all they had for the time being. With only three radio stations in the area, Milton and the team reached out to Spirit FM, a faith-based station in Koboko, Uganda. They agreed to give 4africa’s ministry program two one-hour segments a week – one on Mondays and one on Fridays. It was a start.
Since the team didn’t know who or how many would tune in to their show, they decided to focus on easing the fear, worry, and anxiety these vulnerable communities faced with the impending pandemic. Families of all tribes, cultures, and religions lost their jobs and lacked the money and resources to get through months of staying home. The fear of disease transmission only compounded the financial burden. Contagious diseases already pose a threat due to a lack of medical resources and clean water.
During the first show, the hosts barely had time to speak. One person after another called in seeking encouragement, advice, and COVID information. Callers flooded the line. It was impossible to get to everyone. So, the team gave out their personal phone numbers for people to call after the segment ended.
Suddenly, it became personal, just like they hoped.
Late one evening when Milton was coming home from work, his phone rang. He pulled over to speak to a man who had listened to their show. The man explained that he lost his son a few years ago. After a church refused to help him with a small funeral and burial services, the man decided to renounce church – and even God – altogether. Every time he heard something remotely spiritual on the radio, he immediately turned it off.
That was until he happened across SPIRIT FM at the beginning of 4africa’s hour-long segment. Something compelled him to listen. The man admitted that he had never felt the hand of God so powerfully. He felt like he couldn’t turn it off even if he wanted to, and a deep sense of peace and hope washed over him.
In the blink of an eye, the hour had passed. The man knew from that moment his life was about to change. God opened his heart to the real love of Christ. He called Milton excitedly, expressing that he had to tell someone of his encounter with God. He wanted to continue learning about this authentic faith that could only come from God. Of course, Milton eagerly agreed to help disciple him.
Restoring Hope through Radio Ministry
Since then, the show has covered numerous topics from “How to Keep the Faith” to “Handling Temptations” and “Finding Life through Christ.” Each segment reaches over 1.5 million listeners throughout South Sudan, Uganda, and Congo with messages of hope and the gospel.
So far, the team and partnering churches have aired 60 shows since the pandemic started last year, and they plan to continue the radio ministry as long as they are able. What began as a temporary ministry effort has turned into something far more influential than they could have imagined.
Radio ministry also empowers local churches to have a more significant role and impact in their communities. The radio team often connects callers to local church partners for further discipleship and support.
To date, at least 80 people have openly given their lives to Christ, and the team has counseled and prayed with over 100 more. This is just the beginning. Brief radio calls are turning into long-term relationships and discipleship opportunities. Now, more people can experience the power of God through radio ministry.
Yunice’s Restoration Story
Yunice, a 29-year-old resident of Koboko, tunes into the show twice a week without fail.
“I was born-again and fully-committed Christian. Just six months after getting married, my husband chose to remarry because he thought I was childless. I lost hope, got frustrated, and was mad with God, wondering why God would allow this to happen to a believer like me?”
But God answered her call and healed her broken heart through the radio ministry counselors.
“Thank God I got the chance to tune into the radio program that 4africa offers every week. Through the preaching, peace and hope were restored in my heart. The 4africa ministry team is fully committed to encourage and strengthen me. I can’t wait to listen to the radio program that airs on Mondays and Fridays. My prayer is that God may restore my marriage.”
We Thought Discipleship Groups Would Suffer during COVID….We Were Wrong.
When God is in the middle of something, lives are changed. He is God even in the storm. We weren’t sure what discipleship would look like during the pandemic. Now, our team facilitates discipleship classes and counseling partnerships every month! The program didn’t suffer; it grew! And now we can encourage even more people across a greater area.
Will You Join Us?
So, yes! We are more than excited about World Radio Day. Will you celebrate with us by sharing our story with others? Simply copy and paste the blog link into your social media post to spread the word about World Radio Day and the powerful impact of radio ministry.
You can directly support 4africa’s radio ministry and other programs by visiting our giving page here.