TWR Canada past-president Ray Alary blogged every Thursday, telling behind-the-scenes stories and ministry updates you won't find anywhere else. You can still access his stories and read about his time as a missionary with TWR.
This is the forth part of a series on our West Africa transmitter site from the personal involvement of TWR Canada president Ray Alary. Catch up on the ones you’ve missed: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
We were at the point of giving up. We were unable to find a place in West Africa to build a transmitter station. It seemed everything we tried had ended in failure. All our efforts resulted in closed doors. Maybe we hadn’t heard right. Maybe it wasn’t God’s time. What happened next is a God thing.
I was on furlough and visiting a friend in Cary, North Carolina. This friend, McDaniel Phillips (a long-time TWR missionary and friend), knew of our desire to have a station in West Africa. As we talked about it, he suggested a location I’d never thought about, or even heard about. My response was, “Where is that?” He got out an atlas – we weren’t using Google in those days – and showed me. I was excited, but I didn’t know anything about this country, so I told him to tell me more. Years earlier he had attended a conference in South Africa and had met a group of Christians from there. Obviously, they had made an impression.
He told me he would make a call to a contact he had and see if there was any possibility of getting a license for a Christian station. The next 24 hours were a whirlwind! He placed the call, his friend placed a call to someone else who then also placed a call. In just a few hours, we got a call requesting us to send a business plan for our project … to be sent right away! Our contact was going to meet with the president (yes, the president of the country!) that very evening, and he wanted to get this in front of him right away.
What had just happened?! I was astounded.
We had an opportunity here, and I wanted to act on it, but I needed Stephen’s permission. It was not my custom to act alone; Stephen and I always consulted each other on decisions of this magnitude. However, Stephen was not in South Africa; he was in Europe and no one knew his location. Remember, this was before cell phones were common to us. Time was running out. I had to make a decision and hope that Stephen would be happy. I decided to move ahead. We could always stop pursuing it if he wasn’t in agreement.
Fortunately, I had done a business plan for our meetings in Ghana. I am no whiz on the computer, but I do know how to do a search and replace. I simply searched for Ghana in the document and replaced it. One word of advice on this, if you do this, make sure that you actually replace all of the intended words. Years later I found out that not all were replaced! Thankfully, it didn’t affect the outcome. In fact, I didn’t find out what had happened until much later.
The feedback from the meeting with the president was immediate. Conceptually, he was interested in the project. In fact, his interest was at a high enough level that we were invited to come and meet with him personally.
When Stephen heard about the opportunity, he was on board immediately. I had made the right decision to move ahead. We later learned that the president was a believer, and Stephen’s excitement was evident. He wrote to the TWR International leadership, “The president is a brother in the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ is his personal Saviour…Yes, indeed, our Lord is so good!” (Reaching Beyond Barriers, page 61)
The initial call to arrange our meeting with the president took place in November; it would take until the following April before we even had a tentative meeting. I say tentative because there was no guarantee that we would meet with the president even with a set appointment. Basically, we were told his schedule was always subject to change. We would find out how true this was upon our arrival.
Never before had a door been opened at this level so quickly! We were going to go and have an audience with the highest official in the country. Yes, it was a God thing!