Reach Beyond partners bring life-changing programming to Madagascan coastal listeners
Contact: Darin Campbell,
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 24, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- When Jesus told His disciples they would be His witnesses to the "uttermost parts of the earth," He might have had in mind the Indian Ocean where lives in a remote community are being transformed because of a breakthrough united Christian broadcasting initiative.
Photo: Reach Beyond radio trainer Lisa Balzer leads a workshop for volunteer announcers.
Residents of Maroantsetra on the northeastern coast of Madagascar—where it can take a week for news to arrive from the central capital—are tuning in to new local radio station Radio Feon Janahary: Radio the Voice of the Creator God, in the local Malagasy dialect.
A team of local volunteers has been manning the station since it went live late in 2016 under the first Christian radio license to be issued legally in the country since a 2009 coup. Made possible by the combined efforts of several organizations, the broadcasts are already making a difference in an area previously limited to government radio broadcasts heavily featuring political content and music associated with ancestral worship traditions.
"The demand for Christian content, education, medical information and topics from everyday life is huge," said Thomas, a Swiss missionary working in Madagascar for nine years, who coordinated the initiative. "Several people have already been healed through prayer over the air, marriages have been restored, and many lukewarm Christians have been encouraged to make new beginnings with Jesus."
Reach Beyond, a media- and medical-based missionary organization headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., played a key role in the project by providing funding and assisting with the installation and training of local broadcasters.
With its focus on taking the gospel to where few or none have heard of Christ, Reach Beyond is part of the Alliance for the Unreached, which celebrates its second annual International Day for the Unreached on June 4. The event—on Pentecost Sunday, marking the day when the Holy Spirit fell upon the early church, empowering it to respond to Jesus' Great Commission to "go into all the world and preach the gospel"—aims to inspire greater involvement in and support for world evangelization efforts.
Also part of the Radio Feon Janahary project were Radio Africa Network (RAN), TWR (Trans World Radio) and local believers along with International Christian Aid and All Nations, the two organizations Thomas serves with.
"We are very excited to see the way God is already using this new, strong radio voice in Madagascar," said Curt Cole, Reach Beyond's senior vice president of global ministries. "This has been a true partnership with multiple partners and organizations from 12 different countries involved, working together to serve the body of Christ."
Radio Feon Janahary is the fifth local radio station partnership Reach Beyond has helped establish in Madagascar in the last 10 years. Only around 12 percent of the country's 23 million people are evangelical with animism and ancestral worship "deeply rooted in the culture," according to Lisa Balzer, a Reach Beyond radio trainer based in Southeast Asia.
More than 100,000 people in all have access to the FM 104 broadcasts which run 16 hours daily starting at 6 a.m. Three in five of Maroantsetra's 22,000 residents are believed to be tuning in with listenership as high as 80 percent among the 80,000 people living in the surrounding villages. The audience grew even more in February after 1,000 solar-powered, fixed-tuned SonSet® radios provided by Reach Beyond were distributed to local residents.
The Maroantsetra broadcasts are the culmination of a six-year effort led by Thomas, who credited prayer and fasting with finally overcoming hurdles such as a lack of funds, political challenges, power outages and delays in getting the license.
Reach Beyond (www.reachbeyond.org) is a media- and medical-based evangelical ministry with operations on five continents. It spreads the gospel of Jesus via both traditional and new media, including radio broadcasts, webcasts, social media and the distribution of solar-powered radios. It also reaches out to the needy throughout its growing network of healthcare services. Today Reach Beyond has more than 1,000 staff members in over 30 countries.
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