May24ThuMay 24, 2018
I wrote this blog while sitting at the airport in Kristiansand, Norway, waiting for a flight to Amsterdam on my way to Vienna. You may be wondering what Norway has to do with the ministry in Canada. TWR's partner there, Norea Mediemisjon (Norea for short) has played a significant role in TWR from the very beginning. A gift they made in the 1950’s allowed TWR to make a commitment to Radio Monte Carlo; this launched TWR’s ministry into North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and beyond. The people of Norway have remained faithful to this day in supporting TWR around the world.
TWR Canada’s ties to Norea go back over 30 years. When TWR was beginning its Persian ministry, both Norway and Canada played significant roles in launching that ministry. At that time, Tony and Iris lived in Norway; in fact, two of their children were born there. As we spent time here, it was obvious that this young family had made an impact; many people asked about them and told stories of their time there. One lady even brought out a book and a brochure that featured Tony and his family all those years ago!
Through its entire history, TWR has worked with partners to reach the world with a message of hope. Our visit to Norway represents TWR Canada being part of that worldwide team. We share financial responsibility in a number of projects. We both play a significant financial role in making SOTA possible, and we are both involved in significant ways in TWR Women of Hope. As well, we are excited to see the interest Norea has taken in Discipleship Essentials, potentially using the material in their in-country ministry.
Many years ago, my boss in Africa shared something I have never forgotten. He told me that faxes (now emails) are not faces. He shared how important it is in the African culture to meet people personally; without this personal interface, no true friendship could be established. He said after you meet with them once, it is alright to communicate by other means, but it was important to meet them face-to-face first. And it was wonderful to do this in Norway. It was encouraging to share similar struggles but also to hear wonderful stories of God’s faithfulness through many years of ministry.
The next leg of our journey took us to Vienna, Austria. It is obvious that at some point in this country’s history, the Church played a huge role. Church steeples can be seen in every community, in every suburb. Yet, when you speak with our counterparts there, it is easy to be discouraged as there are only a small number of evangelicals in the country.
Our purpose for being in Vienna was to meet with leaders of our ministries in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern and Western Europe and Russia. Many of these leaders face incredible obstacles in reaching their people. Doors that have been open for years are now closing. Sharing the gospel has to be done secretly; churches are being shut down. This means media is a lifeline to many. TWR Canada has helped these leaders accomplish their goals, but there is much more to do. We came together in a safe place to see how we can continue to play a role in proclaiming Jesus Christ in these challenging times.
One simple example of how difficult it is to be a Christian in some of these countries is shown in being stopped by police. This is quite common. If the police take your cell phone and find any Christian content, it is grounds for your arrest and detainment. It can be as simple as a single verse of scripture or an email message from a friend. Yet, media and radio may be the only one way for these brothers and sisters to hear the Word of God. Some countries use primarily radio; others use a combination of radio and media players. Every country is different; every situation is different. TWR Canada is excited about the possibilities and the amazing stories of how God speaks into hearts in these situations.
The man who leads our Arabic ministry is in India today because he listened to TWR as a child with his grandfather. He shared how in those days TWR was the only Christian voice in the Middle East. If you wanted to be encouraged in your Christian faith, radio was an important part of that encouragement. Today he serves faithfully because it is still one of the primary ways that people in that part of the world get spiritual encouragement.
The task to reach the world with the gospel is attainable, but it will only happen if we continue to meet together, work together, pray together and trust God for all we need to make it happen. That is what this trip was really all about: building relationships so that the end can come and we will all be united with our Saviour.