Feature

Lord of the Rings

Reaching Africa through radio

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No, this isn’t a review of Peter Jackson’s movie Lord of the Rings. It is a true story of changed lives and the power of God’s Word through FM radio in Africa.

From the 2001 General Council “Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Radio for Africa” offering, The Alliance has planted more than 13 community-based FM radio stations in West and Central Africa. These stations fulfill a threefold purpose: to evangelize the lost and unreached peoples of Africa, exhort the local body of Christ through word and song and educate in areas of development, agriculture and hygiene.

In Africa, as in many developing areas, theft is common. To help curb this problem, high walls are constructed, windows are barred and doors are locked. Most facilities have 24-hour guard service. Our FM radio station in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, is no exception. We hire guards who belong to Alliance churches in the community. They do not work Sundays, so we hired Saul*, a local Bobolais (from Bobo) animist (someone who believes in spirits and fetishes).

Let Go of the Ring

Each year the radio station workers invite local churches to celebrate the station’s anniversary. Prior to one celebration, the director of the radio station came in early to finish some last minute details and to print the bulletin. He heard a knock at the door.

He hurriedly said, “Come in,” and continued working. Eventually, he looked up and saw Saul sitting in the office. Over the past few months, the director had wondered why he hired Saul. He was always causing trouble in his neighborhood. He drank and smoked habitually and treated his family poorly.

In a somewhat bothered tone the director asked, “Can I help you?”

“Yes, sir,” Saul replied. “I have a problem.”

The director thought, You’ve got problems? I’m busy getting ready for this ceremony. Instead, he asked, “What is it?”

“I think you need to find someone else to work for you on Sundays.”

“Why?” the director quickly asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” replied Saul.

“Well, do you not like the work?”

“That’s not it,” said Saul.

“Do I not pay enough?” the director asked.

“No, it’s not the money,” replied Saul.

“Well, then,” the director continued, “have I or someone else offended you?”

“No,” the guard affirmed. “It’s none of those things.”

The director was puzzled. “Then what is it, Saul?”

“I want to be able to go to church with my family!” he said enthusiastically.

Shocked, the director said, “Really? That’s wonderful! How did this happen?”

Saul explained that every day as he guarded the station, a little radio played for background music. He sat in a chair next to it and listened all day. After hearing evangelistic broadcasts for several months, he realized that Jesus was more powerful than any fetish or spirit. He decided to give his life to Jesus Christ.

As Saul answered, the director looked down at Saul’s hands. Many animists wear rings on their fingers, signifying pacts or agreements they have made with spirits for protection or blessing. The director noticed that Saul’s rings were no longer there.

Now, Saul and his wife attend church, and the director and I were privileged to baptize them last Christmas.

Church of the Air

In a small Muslim village outside of town, something similar was happening. Each night, an older man turned on his radio before going to bed. One night, he listened to a different station. As he lay there, he felt as if the program was directed toward him. His stomach began to turn and his heart raced as the announcer described his exact condition. He sat up nervously and then tried to lie back down, only to be confronted again by the words from the radio calling him to follow Christ.

The man sensed his need for the Savior. He knelt and prayed to receive the Lord. The next day, he walked three kilometers to a nearby Alliance church and told the pastor about his newfound faith in Christ. The man was baptized with other new believers from the church. His son has also followed in believer’s baptism.

These are just two of the many stories we have heard. With this station reaching a potential audience of more than 1 million people, God’s Word is spreading rapidly. With illiteracy rates of approximately 80 percent in some countries, the radio provides the written Word of God in aural form and in several local languages. It brings the church to those who are unable to attend because of sickness or persecution.

Community-based FM radio is an effective tool in Africa. Lives are changing, people are being set free from the false powers of the enemy, new believers are able to grow in their faith and a guard’s hands testify that Jesus truly is Lord of the rings!

To learn more about radio in Africa, visit: www.cmaradio.org.

*Name changed

Cover artwork for September 2006 September 2006

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