NORTH AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST – If you had to get an urgent message out to a million or more people but could not physically access any of the countries where those million souls lived, how would you get the word out?
For one Christ-follower, the answer was clear: radio.
Ibrahim* had a life-changing message to share—a message about love, forgiveness, salvation and the one true God. Determined to share that message effectively, he has devoted himself to learning and working full time to see the message delivered. And Ibrahim has made much progress since those early days of training that started with how to turn a computer on and off.
Today this man, who disliked typing with a passion, works with sophisticated audio software to distribute the good news of Jesus Christ. He records radio programs in a professional studio for higher sound quality. In that space, the noise of life falls away—dogs barking, construction and planes rumbling overhead. After hours of recording and editing, the 30-minute final product, spoken in his heart language, is sent off for broadcasting and unpredictably carried along airwaves.
Ibrahim, who was led to the Lord by a national believer, works closely with IMB missionaries. They discuss program content and available resources. Jill Meadows* serves as the liaison with the partnering organization that prepares the programs for the broadcasters.
“Ibrahim is also involved in Scripture translation work for our team,” says Meadows, an IMB worker among Northern African and Middle Eastern peoples. “I am a translation advisor, but Ibrahim does the work of translating the Word of God into his heart language. He is a true partner in the IMB work here.”
Yahiya*, loosely translated John, lives in a country whose government is closed to all religions but its own. He lives in an urban area but frequents his family’s acreage deep in the countryside. There, internet capabilities are non-existent, but the radio usually works. That was how Yahiya first heard about a book called Genesis and one called Mark. He also learned about a man named Jesus. The voice on the radio spoke of things Yahiya had never before considered. The most exciting part of it all was that the radio program was spoken in his heart language—a regional dialect related to Arabic.
Messages are broadcast only four days a week with each program lasting 30 minutes. When Yahiya first began to listen, he happened upon the right channel on the right day and at the right time—something clearly ordained by God, though Yahiya would not understand this yet. As he listened to the broadcaster, soaking up every word, Yahiya began to have questions. At the end of every program, listeners were provided a phone number, and they were encouraged to reach out for more information. After months of considering what he was hearing, Yahiya called the number and asked his questions.
Ultimately, he wanted to know how to become a Christian. Thanks to God working through a follow-up team and giving them the wisdom to answer Yahiya’s many questions, he trusted God and decided to become a believer. His studies continued and, without a Bible, he read Scripture through an app recommended by the man on the radio. The app provides both text and audio in Yahiya’s heart language. And more books of the Bible are slowly being added—Genesis, Mark, and soon, John. In addition to study, prayer and radio listening, Yahiya has sought out other believers and shared the good news of salvation with his closest friend. He hopes to soon share this new faith with his children and extended family.
God is working in the lives of both Yahiya and Ibrahim. Over the airwaves, God connected a father who loves books, languages, poetry and Jesus Christ, to another father who speaks the same dialect hundreds of miles away. God is reaching the multitudes through a broadcast that uses local music and regional instruments to catch the attention of listeners before delivering words of hope and salvation in a language they understand. Because messages like this are not permitted inside the countries where others like Yahiya live, the program is broadcast from an undisclosed location in Europe, aimed toward capital cities. Key people living in those cities regularly check radio channels and specifically listen for this broadcast. When the program comes through loud and clear, they report back to the radio broadcasting team: the signal came through.
Is God’s signal reaching you? He has urgent news, not just for Yahiya and Ibrahim, but also for you. Wherever you are. Will you open your heart and listen to what God is doing? And will you give thanks to God for always finding a way into the hearts and minds of those willing to listen?
*Names changed for security
Sheri Webber is a contributing writer for the IMB.