The thought of having the largest broadcast network never entered anyone’s mind; it wasn’t the goal. Reaching into North Africa, Europe and the Middle East was. Conventional ministry was having an impact, but it was slow. There weren’t enough missionaries to effectively reach that part of the world.
At the time, the Iron Curtain was a real thing, and Eastern Europe was under an oppressive government that wanted to shut down the Church. It was 1959, and something was about to happen that would radically change how we do missions. A man named Dr. Paul Freed was about to take a risk that had, and continues to have, an impact on the world, an impact that will only be fully revealed when we get to heaven. He would use super-power radio as a tool to fulfill the great commission.
This last week, two men were in my office; both of them told a story that is so familiar to me. One grew up in Egypt; the other grew up in Jordan. Both have a Christian heritage; both told me about the influence that TWR had on their lives. Both know the names of the people who shared the message, and both of them told me of the huge influence the gospel has had on their lives. The story goes on from there.
They both lead ministries in the Middle East, and they both told me that TWR played a huge role in getting them to where they are today. One of these men listened at midnight. He said, “What an encouragement for a Christian to be able to listen to these broadcasts.” It was the only broadcast of this nature that he could listen to from his home. He went on to tell how he loved to listen to Thru the Bible and how he loved to hear the voice of the producer. (I will be interviewing one of these men soon, so stay tuned for more!)
Why do I write about these two men? I write because I have met men and women like this all around the world. In Latin America, a lady from the Caribbean told me how her family held the radio in the air at night and moved it around to get the best signal. Her husband’s story was very similar. They had both listened to Thru the Bible, and both accepted Christ as a result of those broadcasts.
A man in Angola told me how TWR was his church during the many years of war in that country. When we met, he had been a Christian for 21 years, 21 years during which TWR was his only church. In a prison in the Ivory Coast, hundreds of men came to Christ. How did this happen? One man got a radio into the prison, and 'by chance' he came across TWR’s broadcasts. It changed his life, and when others saw that, they too were impacted. A radio broadcast changed men in those seemingly impossible circumstances.
A lady in Burundi told me how she had divorced her husband, then heard a program on peace and reconciliation after the genocide. That program was not designed to reconcile a husband and wife, but that is exactly what happened. This couple came back together and got remarried.
Let me be clear. It was God speaking into all of these people’s hearts that brought them to where they are today. But it was a radio broadcast that planted the seed.