TWR Canada's 50th Anniversary Timeline
1952 to 1960
1952: TWR International Begins!
1954: The first TWR International programming to Spain is broadcast.
1960: The first missionaries from Canada are sent out under TWR International.
1973: On June 18, TWR Canada is established under the direction of Rev. Arthur Murfin as a national partner with TWR International. TWR Canada begins to send out missionaries. Approximately 32 missionary families are sent out by the early 80s.
1980: Steve and Pam Wise join TWR Canada as regional representives.
1981: Steve and Barbara Shantz join TWR Canada as missionaries.
Read more about Steve and Pam Wise
"One story of impact was on the site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which was the historic capital of the Kumar Empire. There was this group of 25 doctors and community helpers and ourselves. And I remember one particular session where we taught a group of Buddhists, who were largely doctors, about the Holy Spirit and how we as believers are given the gift of the Holy Spirit that strengthens and empowers our ministry. This was a brand new teaching to them. A hush fell over the group as we talked about the Holy Spirit. And in the midst of that hush as they sat there waiting for what we would say next, a breeze blew through the trees and it picked up the leaves and stirred them into a circle and raised them up in the air, and then they fell back again onto the ground. Everyone there felt the Spirit of God move over that meeting." - Steve Wise
Read more about Steve and Barbara Shantz
"Barbara and I joined TWR in 1981 as career missionaries. I had just finished college and my goal ever since I was a teenager was to be a technical missionary and use my technical skills for the furtherance of the gospel. So I applied to TWR because I heard about TWR at a missions conference at Benton Street Baptist Church in Kitchener, and Barbara and I had been seeking the Lord's leading and guidance in serving as missionaries.
Most of my highlights go back to when I was working directly with technology, but it has also been a wonderful highlight to work in Latin America, to get to know the Latin America leaders in TWR and the national partners, and to travel to those national partner offices. When we were in Monte Carlo, I would travel into Eastern Europe with our monitoring equipment and I would sit in a farmhouse at night out in the Hungarian countryside with an antenna, a highly sensitive radio and a laptop computer, and measure the signals that we would be broadcasting. So, to be in the target area in the Cold War, and to hear TWR coming in loud and clear blew my mind and I would just sit there thinking, 'this is what our listeners hear and this is the whole result of everything we do at TWR; to put that signal into a closed country or a difficult area of the world to reach.'" - Steve Shantz
1973 to 1981
Dr. Carl Seyffert becomes the first full-time director of TWR Canada.
Tony joins TWR Canada as a missionary and begins the Persian ministry, broadcasting the gospel to the Persian-speaking world.
Read more abour Carl Seyffert
"Carl and I had heard about TWR though Art Murfin, who worked as a TWR representative in Canada. Art visited Carl at our church. Carl got so excited when he realized how many hundreds of thousands of millions of people could hear the gospel, and hear Christ and his love and death and resurrection. He was also excited to hear about all that could be accomplished." - Millie Seyffert, Carl's wife
Read more about Tony
"When we started to broadcast, there was no budget and the airtime to broadcast for half an hour was over 1,000 US dollars. Meanwhile, I had no support, only $86 a month. Despite that, God miraculously provided support, not just for me but also for air time. He provided us with $1,100 every day for 365 days a year. Several years after the Iranian Revolution there was no other way to reach the Iranian people except for radio. God gave us the strongest transmission so we could cover the entire country of Iran with the gospel every day.
"Also, despite the limitations of the mail being controlled and not being able to mail the Bible, we did it anyway and found a way. We received so many letters sent through different methods and different countries, but all from Iran. Some even took the letters from Iran to Afghanistan to mail it to make sure we received it. We received so many letters from us doing only 30 minutes of programming a day, and for me that was most encouraging." - Tony
1983: McDaniel and Blossom Phillips join TWR Canada as missionaries.
1984: Carl Seyffert arranges a meeting for Paul Freed to share the story of TWR with some people in London, Ontario.
Read more about McDaniel Phillips
"I was a broadcaster for many years and radio was a thing I enjoyed. We had a program on Bonaire called Caribbean Night Call that came on at midnight (soft, easy, laidback conversation), and I asked who would be listening, but I had to craft programs for people who I would never meet and never know what they are like because there are hundreds of islands. I used to draw a composite (an image of someone I would talk to), for the series of programs, and a letter came in from a women. Her first words were 'how did you know? Every world you said was for me and I needed to hear it.' This woman from Jamaica was encouraged to return to church. - McDaniel Phillips
Read more about the London meeting
1983 to 1984
Ray and Sandra Alary join TWR Canada as missionaries.
Read more about Ray Alary
"I heard about TWR in 1985. Sandra and I were in a home group and the people there kept telling us that we should become missionaries but we were not interested. The group sent a guy to our house to interview us without us knowing that he was even coming. That guy became a very good friend. His name was Frank Weiss, and he was from another organization. Frank interviewed us and said 'We could use you, but I think you should go with the ministry where they can use your skills as a mechanical electrician.' We thought we would never hear from them again, but probably five or six months later, on a Saturday morning, I got a call from a guy in the United States named Cliff Floyd, who started talking to me about using my skills. On Bonaire, they generated their electricity for the transmitter site and they needed a mechanic and electrician so they recruited me to join the ministry of TWR. So Sandra and I accepted our positions in November of 1985. We raised support for about a year and a half and then we went to the field in the summer of 1987.
"For the first six years, I ran the generating station, but in 1992 or 1993, we decided we would let the local utility company generate our power, meaning that I did not have a job anymore. So, in 1993, TWR asked me to go into an administrative role, which at first, I turned down. But over time we prayed, and God directed me to go into administration, and I was in administration from 1993 until I retired from TWR in 2019." - Ray Alary
First evangelism and discipleship conference for Persian believers is held.
Ross Campbell joins TWR Canada's board of directors.
Carol and Rick Hawkins join TWR Canada as missionaries.
Read more about Ross Campbell
"My dream, vision and prayer for TWR is that they would continue to reach the nations with the gospel, and assist the church. I hope that everyone at TWR Canada continues to use their gifts to help reach the nations with the gospel." - Ross Campbell
Read more about Carol Hawkins
"In 1991, Steve Shantz mentioned in a newsletter that he was being put in charge of the computer systems at the TWR office and transmitter location in Monte Carlo. My husband Rick, who worked as an IT technician for AT&T, had been praying for God's direction. Rick spoke with Steve when Steve and Barbara were on furlough that year. Steve explained that TWR was switching to the Unix computer operating system developed by AT&T. Rick had all the necessary training with this system as he worked with it on a daily basis. We put in our application and, after interviews, were accepted by TWR." - Carol Hawkins
1995 to 1996
1995: Greg Clarke joins TWR Canada as a missionary.
1996: Jeremy Mullin joins TWR Canada as a missionary.
Read more about Greg Clark
It has been great to have TWR Canada supporting our ministry in Eswatini. With the close ties that TWR Canada has had with Africa over the years, from the many Canadian missionaries who have served here, TWR Canada has been a great partner in sponsoring programs, funding projects, and supporting missionaries." - Greg Clark
Read more about Jeremy Mullin
"When I first joined TWR Canada, our office was in a cramped condo with a couple staff. Since then, we've moved twice and expanded the ministry opportunities. Despite our growth, TWR Canada still has the desire to continue to reach people for Christ using mass media. There is still an opportunity for high powered radio broadcasting, but with the digital era, we have many impactful ways of getting the gospel to various people in various languages." - Jeremy Mullin
Carl Seyffert retires and Gerald Hayes becomes president.
Read more about Gerald Hayes
"When I joined in 1999, the office was located in a modest 3-room office condo on Queens Avenue in downtown London. We also had three regional directors located in Ontario, Alberta and BC to represent the ministry in those regions and to raise funds to support the work. At that time, our main ministry focus was on producing radio programs in Persian or Farsi, buying airtime in Europe to broadcast those programs into the Persian-speaking world and in following up responses to those broadcasts.
"We still seek to mobilize workers form Canada to serve at TWR international sites across the world and to provide funding for various ministry projects there. We began to expand the ministry by adding TWR Women of Hope, the French and Chinese programs, but basically using radio (shortwave, medium wave or FM) to broadcast the message as well as on TV and in Quebec. Of course, today, many additional technologies such as SD cards, media players, web radio, internet, and social media are being used with great effect, so much so that it makes my head spin!
"I took early retirement in 1996 to study at Briercrest Biblical Seminary in preparation for some unknown role in global missions. We just felt that God was calling us to serve the next number of years of our lives in a missions context, but we had no idea what it looked like, until June of 1998 when Dennis Ford, who was TWR Canada's regional director for the prairies, came to Briercrest looking for people to help in the ministry. Until that point I had not heard of TWR.
"Well, on his second visit, Dennis explained that my predecessors, Dr. Carl Seyffert had just informed the board of directors that he wished to retire the following year at the age of 64, and Dennis asked, 'can I send your resume to Carl as a potential candidate to succeed him here in London?' And I said, 'fine that would be great.'
"Carl then invited me for an initial meeting with him, Mr. Bill Poley who was the board chair at the time, and that lead to a further invitation for me to return to be interviewed by the full board, on November 3, 1998 which happened to be my wife’s birthday. Gloria and I began to pray earnestly for God to show us his will in the matter. At that time I was using Henry Blackaby’s devotional book, entitled Experiencing God Day by Day. The devotional for the day that I would be interviewed by the board on November 3 seemed to have been written specifically for me. It was based on First Timothy 1:12, 'and I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry' (NKJV).
"Before meeting the board that day, I wrote in my journal, 'today in 1998, I will be interviewed by the TWR Canada board of directors to be potentially selected and appointed as director of TWR Canada. After praying about this since June, and receiving confirmation and peace about this possibility from the Lord, I expect the board will approve me for this role. I am convinced that God will lead both Gloria and I and the board to the same conclusion.'
"Shortly after the interview, the board called me back into the meeting to invite me to come and succeed Carl. I accepted this as God’s will. We flew back to Saskatchewan to wrap up our commitments there, sell our house, and prepare to move to London.
"So, when you ask what attracted me to join TWR Canada, it was the unmistakable call of God. It was not the scope, the type, the impact, or the history of the ministry, but it was God’s call upon me.
"We arrived in London on the very day, March 31, 1999, that Carl’s doctor informed him that he had pancreatic cancer and had only a few months to live. In fact, Carl and I only had two weeks together for transition, which was unreal. As a former pastor, Carl had never transitioned out of a role, and I had never served in vocational Christian ministry before so he hardly knew what to tell me and I hardly knew what to ask him. I had managed organizations in the past, but I always had a boss to give overall direction or guidance. I can still recall at lunchtime going out for a walk, wondering what I should do next and I finally concluded that if God wanted me to follow the same strategic direction as Carl, he would have given us more time for transition. From that point on, God opened my eyes to build on the foundation that Carl had been establishing and them to discover that new direction which included launching new ministries into Quebec and China." - Gerald Hayes
2000 to 2001
2000: TWR Canada begins partnering with Project Hannah, now TWR Women of Hope
2001: TWR Canada begins reaching the women of Angola with Women of Hope in Portuguese.
Read more about Women of Hope
"For TWR Women of Hope, our priorities were was creating awareness for the plight of women and speaking the hope and truth that Jesus offered, because that is something that can make a difference and transform someone's life. We also wanted to focus on providing ground support by creating a community, especially with the Women of Hope prayer groups in different countries. I believe community is how the Lord created us to be and we need that. Women are wired that way but generally it's for all of us." - Colleen Shoemaker, former women's ministry coordinator
2002: TWR Canada partners with Aujourd'hui l'Espoir to reach the people of Quebec with the hope of the gospel.
2004: TWR Canada begins reaching the Persian-speaking world online.
2004: Colleen Shoemaker joins TWR Canada.
Read more about Aujourd'hui l'Espoir
"One ministry highlight would be the launch of Radio l’Espoir. For more than 10 years before retiring, I had worked in Quebec and developed a sincere affection for both my English- and French-speaking staff. So in a board meeting when Jake Daccord who was vice chairman, asked me when we were going to start a ministry to Quebec, my heart was stirred. Within weeks, Jake had arranged for me to meet some key ministry leaders there in Montreal, including Marcel Parron who was leading Aujoud'hui l’Espoir which spanned many cities and towns and communities across Quebec. Marcel and I soon developed a vital partnership which resulted in translating, producing, and broadcasting programs on commercial radio stations first, and then on TV a little later." - Gerald Hayes
Read more about Colleen Shoemaker
"In my time with the ministry, TWR Canada contributed to the global ministry by pushing boundaries and exploring new technologies outside of radio. Under Ray Alary's leadership, there was a huge push to get technology like media players and USB drives into people's hands. Another key priority was improving our on-the-ground ministry, so that if we had a radio ministry in a country, we also had to have people on the ground leading, helping, and serving the people." - Colleen Shoemaker
2002 to 2004
2005 to 2007
2005: With Aujourd'hui l'Espoir, TWR Canada starts reaching Quebec with the gospel via TV.
2005: TWR Canada begins reaching China with the hope of the gospel.
2006: TWR Canada begins reaching Low German-speaking women with the gospel through Project Hannah.
2007: TWR Canada expands their partnership with Project Hannah across Africa, in Portuguese and Makhuwa in Mozambique and French in West Africa.
Read more about TWR Canda in China
"Ross Campbell (the chairman of the board), Jake, myself and our wives took an exploratory trip into China. We were guided by the staff from the Hong Kong office. We were in Datong, a city that I had never heard of, but was about 3 million people in population at the time, and attended a youth meeting there. There were approximately 200 youth in that meeting. We asked Joan Daccord, Jake's wife to share her testimony there. Following the meeting, we met two sisters from a nearby community, where Joan’s grandparents had served as missionaries many years earlier. These two sisters shared with great passion how appreciative they were for Joan’s grandparents, bringing the gospel to their community. These sisters and the church youth group that we met, who were already TWR listeners from the Hong office's work, showed us that the radio broadcasts were critical in sustaining the largely underground church across China. We soon joined hands and hearts with a Chinese diaspora ministry already existing in Toronto, to produce and broadcast the gospel and biblical teaching into China." - Gerald Hayes
TWR Canada purchases a conference centre in Central Asia to host the Persian ministry conferences.
The world faces a recession, but God is faithful.
Read more about TWR Canada and the Recession
"Many of you will recall the economic pain of that period as people and companies could not fulfill the financial commitments they had made earlier. In broadcasting, organizations or ministries must make commitments to and sign contracts with the owners of broadcasting facilities they want to use to reach their target audiences. To reach the Persian-speaking world, we were buying time on high-powered stations in Cyprus and Armenia that TWR did not own, but I praise the Lord that he always provided sufficient funds to ensure that all our programs were covered, none had to be canceled. God's people continue their faithful giving and we were able to honour all of our commitments. Praise the Lord!" - Gerald Hayes
2009 to 2011
2009: TWR Canada begins reaching women with the hope of Jesus through Project Hannah in Mali.
2009: Gerald Hayes retires and Ray Alary becomes president.
2010: TWR Canada begins reaching Umbundu-speaking women in Angola with the hope of Jesus through Project Hannah.
2011: TWR Canada begins training Chinese church leaders through SOTA (Seminary on the Air). William Tsui joins TWR Canada to lead the ministry to China.
Read more about Ray Alary
"Throughout my time with TWR Canada, I believe that our strategic priority really hasn't changed. The Great Commission tells us to take God’s Word to the world and to share the Word of God with people. Radio doesn't change a single person's life. It's God speaking into the person's heart that changes their life. And so our real responsibility is just to deliver that message. So, I don't think that that priority has changed. What has changed is the way we deliver that product over time." - Ray Alary
Read more about William Tsui
"I think the most personally impactful parts of my ministry are the students of SOTA. The second one would be the staff, but the first one is the students. When I visited China, I knew that there is a tremendous need for training, especially in the village churches. The pastors do not have any education. They cannot go to seminary, and they do not have any systematic training. I came to know SOTA and then when I finally had the chance in 2012, I started to get involved with SOTA in China. I visited the church in China and I found that SOTA could really help them. And when I meet those students in China, when I hear from them, I'm more and more certain that I'm doing the right thing in joining TWR Canada and serving with SOTA.
"And I have had many touching experiences when I visit church leaders in China. One lady told me, 'We need this, do not lie to me. If you cannot help us, don't promise anything.' That was in 2012 and it has been 11 years. I still remember what she said to me. She said 'We really need that and we really hope that you can help us. But if you can not, then do not promise anything.' So from then on, I devoted myself to my team to provide what they need whenever they need it, like textbooks, MP3 players, tablets, CD players, USBs, anything. When I look into their eyes, they are so thankful. In many of the graduations of these students there are a lot of tears. They don't want us to go after graduation and they want us to stay in contact with them. And that is very touching." - William Tsui
2012: TWR Canada begins specifically reaching the women of the Persian-speaking world with the hope of Jesus through Women of Hope.
2013: Discipleship Essentials begins and is now available in over 15 languages and used by more than 28,000 small groups around the world.
2013: SOTA expands its reach to Chinese-speaking believers living in Germany.
Read more about the beginning about Disipleship Essentials
"When I was president of TWR Canada, God opened the door for us to do Discipleship Essentials. I met with a man, and I had a media player in my pocket, and he asked me what it was. It was out of that conversation that Discipleship Essentials was created." - Ray Alary
2012 to 2013
TWR Canada distributes its first media player. Today, thousands of media players have been distributed around the world!
TWR Canada partners with Bible Stories Alive to translate and produce Bible stories for children.
The Dunlop family join TWR Canada as missionaries.
Read more about TWR Canada's partnerhsip with Bible Stories Alive
"I went to meet with the lady that created those programs and asked her a very simple question, I said, 'Why have you only ever done this in English and not in other languages?' And she said, 'Because nobody's ever asked me to.' So I said, 'Well, I'm asking you to!' And that's how Bible Stories Alive happened. So there is no real explanation for how things have worked out, only that God put me in the right place at the right time and got me to ask the right questions. And so it has just been thrilling to see how God has worked!" - Ray Alary
2016: Project Hannah rebrands to TWR Women of Hope, maintaining their vision to reach women around the world and across generations with the hope of Jesus.
2017: TWR Canada begins their first radio home group in South Asia
2017: God continues to prove himself faithful, as the Chinese ministry team seeks to purchase an office.
Read more about God's faithfulness with the Chinese Minstry
"By 2017, we wanted to buy a building in Markham. In March, the board finally decided to let us try to buy a building, and said if we could raise so much, then we could start to look for a building. At that time, there were no units available in Markham. I looked around, I asked the real estate agent to look for us. None. Right after the board approved this, about the second week, a unit opposite to our rented unit went up for sale and I was so shocked by that. And then I started to share the news with some churches and friends. We bought the unit in December 2017, and we don’t have a mortgage. Again, it just proved that we got the support we needed because we were serving the church well." - William Tsui
2016 to 2017
Ray Alary retires and Dan Reese becomes president.
Read more about Dan Reese
"What attracted me to join the ministry was God's calling first and foremost. It was a very clear sense of God calling me to the ministry. It wasn't something I was looking for, it wasn't something I aspired to. I didn't have to figure out if it was a good quality organization, because I already knew of TWR Canada. I just had to figure out if God was calling me in, and he was. So what I love about TWR is that we have the opportunity and the privilege and, I think, the responsibility of using technology to share the message of hope and Christ and to encourage people to be discipled and to provide tools for them to be discipled. Discipleship is a really big and really important part of who we are. We focus on building the body of Christ, strengthening it and equipping it, so that's what I love. I love that that we have the tools we have the content and we get to use technology to distribute God's Word.
"TWR international started off 70 years ago using the most cutting edge technology of the day which was which was radio and I feel that God has called us to continue to use technology and use radio where it's most effective. Paul Freed in his book, Towers to Eternity wrote:
"Christian broadcasting is not the only answer. It is only a small part of the total outreach - radio, literature, audio-visuals, missionary aviation, translation, programmed instruction are all new ways in which we can move out in geometric proportions. We need a continually renewed vision of ways to reach others. Compared to the rest of the world's progress, Christendom is dragging at a snail’s pace. I must make it very clear though, that winning people to Christ will require both methods, the personal touch and the mass media" (p. 102).
"So, when I read that, what struck me was that he didn't see radio broadcasting as the only the only way to reach people. My opinion is that he would be very open to new technologies and using more cutting edge technologies like the apps on our phone, streamed content from our computers and cell phones and have it available to us at a time that that we need it. It is also important that people are have a radio to listen and so we want to make sure that people have the ability to hear it." - Dan Reese
2020: The WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and our world rapidly changed. But God always provides.
2020: TWR Canada releases its first mobile app for Android.
2021: TWR Canada releases its first mobile app for iOS.
2021: The first FM radio station operated by partner Aujourd'hui l'Espoir in Quebec goes live.
Read more about God's faithfulness with COVID-19
"2020 is the year that the pandemic started to break out in in Canada. I think it was Dan who asked what I'm going to do. How are we going to handle it as a ministry? I said I really don't know. And by the end of the year, we had a large surplus. People keep calling in like foundations, churches, they said, 'I think you need the money;, I said fine. Just send it to us. And even more than we need. And we did not stop. And in 2020, even up to now, we still don't have any deficits. I still remember the very first time when I talked to Ray and if I remember correctly, he said that the board had approved an emergency fund for me to use in my first year leading the ministry. And that I should feel free to use it, because you should expect to have a deficit in the first year. I remember I told Ray, 'No, don't worry, the Chinese church will take care of the China ministry.' And the end of the year, we had a surplus. Money has never been an issue, It's just the providence from God and the acceptance of the church. And that is why I think we are doing the right thing." - William Tsui
2020 to 2021
2022 to 2023
2022: Ruth Chan takes over leadership of TWR Canada's ministry to China, when William Tsui retires.
2023: TWR Canada celebrates their 50th anniversary!
Read more about TWR Canada's Chinese Ministry
"In China, we had a SOTA student who had a very rare illness. He was fine when he was born. But since junior high, he started having problems and finally he was paralyzed so that only parts of his hands and head can move a bit. But one day, he heard about the podcasting and the gospel channels and heard about Jesus and after a few months he converted, accepted Jesus and became Christian and at that point he was moved to serve God.
"But of course, you ask what can someone like him do in his situation? How can they serve God, right? But he heard about SOTA. So, he enrolled in the program. He just used his cell phone. He listened to the lectures and then he used his cell phone with the limited mobility of his hand, he typed in the answers for the exam, and he sent in the exam. And he finished eighteen courses. And we're talking about New Testament theology, Old Testament theology, and systematic theology, and he finished them all!
"After he finished the program, he asked himself, 'how can I serve God?' And he started seeing people with the same needs and challenges who could not move, and could not do anything. He wanted to share the gospel with these people, telling them that, hey, we are all valuable in the eyes of God. We are all being loved by God. He wanted to spread this good news. So, he set up a church on the air. Using his phone, he organized programs with people in the same situation. Now they have around like 200 people attending, with around 13 SOTA students who have some physical challenges helping to organize the program. They are willing to help and they are willing to be the channel of blessings from God. So I think what impacts me is that God uses everyone if we are willing to be used, and I thank God that he used a soldier." - Ruth Chan