Forty-five years to this day, on 1 November 1974, the first 25,000-watt short wave transmitter was switched on in the secluded location just outside of Manzini, Swaziland, now Eswatini. The joy and excitement brought about by this milestone was overwhelming as TWR launched its fourth international transmitting site. The biggest blank spot on the missionary radio map was covered at last!
Programmes went out in English, Afrikaans, German, Zulu, and Portuguese throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The Gospel reached ears that had never heard its sweetness before. Four letters were received from people who had heard the first broadcast and had decided to follow Christ as their Saviour. God was already at work in this small, humble beginning.
Have you found language barriers can make people seem unfriendly and distant? “Making friends beyond acquaintances was hard for me,”says South Africa born Ivan Bam, looking back at his time in Germany in the mid 1980s. “In those days there was no social media to make connections back home or with friends when it seemed like life there had moved on without me.” Bam felt his biggest barrier to integration was the German language and learning it was a process. “It was really difficult at first. I was trying to fix my loneliness by looking back to my home country. The feeling is often magnified by struggles to learn a language, form deep connections, and generally integrate into a culture. The loneliness that expats experience comes generally with a sense of alienation.”
MY RADIO, MY FRIEND
“I could not speak any German when I first arrived in Germany. I felt incredibly lonely. So, during that time I tuned to the programmes of TWR in English on my radio. This carried me through a difficult period,” Ivan recalls. Tuning his radio to listen to TWR programmes in English helped him to overcome loneliness. Radio listening developed a beautiful habit of connecting with God while hearing voices that brought messages of hope and relief. Ivan calls this part of his story, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’.
Ivan has since returned to his home country, South Africa, and currently works for the ‘Back to the Bible’ ministry located in Pretoria where he now resides. He clearly shares his passion that people should receive salvation and turn back to God.
What is the purpose of TWR? Simple, yet profound: Jesus. Our global media outreach engages millions, like Ivan Bam, speaking more than 230 languages to reach people in more than 160 countries with biblical truth. For more than 65 years, God has enabled TWR to lead people from doubt to decision to discipleship. Whether through high-powered radio, emerging digital platforms or face-to-face interactions, TWR leaves a lasting spiritual footprint!
Join the many listeners who have downloaded the TWR Africa App. Or listen live to programmes on the TWR Africa website at www.twrafrica.org. Another option is TWR Africa on DStv audio channel 855. TWR strives to reach listeners with the most practical and relevant forms of media available.
One of the key assets placed into the hands of TWR is our broadcast platforms. With these platforms like radio, satellite and digital online outlets we are able to provide a comprehensive reach to even the hard-to-reach areas of the African continent.
Over the last twenty years, the media landscape in South Africa as a comparatively affluent country in Africa has experienced tremendous growth in the diversity and number of mass media distribution platforms. Listeners in urban areas now have a wealth of choices: medium wave and FM radio are popular with our South African listeners as well as online and satellite-delivered services such as our DSTV audio channel. People are still accessing powerful Gospel programs on TWR but in South Africa, mostly using platforms other than shortwave.
“I have learned new skills and communication techniques that will assist me with helping women who are vulnerable or victims of abuse and violence. I feeeceived is a powerful tool for me and I truly believe it will assist women with permanent recovery and help them know that Jesus loves them. It gave me a broad education that sharing Bible verses is the best resource available to assist other women that I interact with. The training was a great way to refresh my perspective,” says Fikile Ngcobo of KZN, a leader for an Evangelism Team of the Apostolic Faith Mission Church, “and ‘re-charge my battery’ to continue to bring hope and comfort to victims of violence.”
Also excited about the Magdalena training is TWR Women of Hope Regional Coordinator – East & Southern Africa, Philile Bhengu. “I can see that the Lord is exposing me with so much information that I can use to help women who are in need. There are so many people out there who are willing to serve the Lord but they do not know how or where to start. It was a privilege for me to be part of the Magdalena training because I can now train women so that they can train others or be active instruments in their communities to reach other women for Jesus,” she says.
TWR Women of Hope is a ministry of Trans World Radio (TWR) seeking to bring hope in Jesus to women around the world and across generations. In 2007 TWR Women of Hope was invited by Campus Crusade for Christ to turn the film “Magdalena: Released from Shame”, produced by The Jesus Film Project, into an audio drama series. The latter opened a new way for prospective audiences to experience Mary Magdalene's story and learn how Jesus values women.
Magdalena is the brainchild of Willie and Marie Erasmus. According to Willie, God inspired him to start this project after his trip to Afghanistan in 2002 where he saw widows abused by authorities and had compassion for those women. “While taking part in a humanitarian relief project I was shocked by the way the women were treated. The women were mostly uneducated, were not allowed to go to school, were not allowed to talk to strangers, and had to be covered from head to toe with no part of the body visible! – How are we going to tell them about Jesus?” The Jesus Film Project saw the need for a movie for women and “Magdalena: Released from Shame” was born.
‘Magdalena’, the compelling film portraying Jesus' compassion for women, has been met with incredible response around the world. “Magdalena” is inspiring women everywhere to realise and reclaim the purpose they were always intended for...to know Jesus, and with loving hearts and a gentle touch make Him known to others.
This movie includes a 90 minute version of ‘Magdalena’, as well as the original 82-minute director's cut. A series of short clips (2-5 minutes) with thought-provoking questions helps viewers to delve deeper into God’s Word to discover hope for their lives.
Gottfried Schiele and Eberhard Haberkorn took a trip to Namibia on what they dubbed the “Bell’s Tour” in July 2019, as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of Evangeliums Rundfunk (ERF) Medien, TWR’s German partner.
Eberhard Haberkorn, TWR German Ministry Coordinator for Southern Africa, takes us through the journey…and says…
(Photos by Gottfried Schiele)
“Embarking on what would be a very long trip, I travelled north from KwaZulu Natal (KZN) to our TWR offices in Croydon. Gottfried Schiele and I had to do some creative packing to get three big protective cases for the handbells, a folding table, speakers and another two cases with sound equipment, our luggage and promotional material, into our VW Polo. And we succeeded!
After two days on the road, our first bell’s concert was held on the farm Dabis, close to the town Helmeringhausen in the southern part of Namibia. We were received with great enthusiasm by our hosts, the owners of the guest farm.
We were surprised that over 40 people attended with keen interest. Some even travelled over 150 km to be there! After the concert, Gottfried invited the audience to ring the bells themselves and ask questions.
The next day a group of about 20 German tourists visited the farm. After a sunset tour of a small part of the farm, we staged an impromptu concert which was a great experience for the visitors, having never seen nor heard of handbells.
The next two days we travelled towards Walvisbay and Swakopmund.
The concert on Saturday evening in the Swakopmund Stadtmission (city mission) was also well attended by friends of ERF and others. On Sunday morning we participated at the church Service at the Lutheran Church. Gottfried accompanied the hymns with his bells and played a few pieces afterwards. I shared about the Oasis Project with the congregation.On Tuesday we headed north to Otjiwarongo, where we had some time to recuperate. (Photos by Gottfried Schiele)
The next morning we held a concert at the German school, which was well received by pupils as well as teachers. The same evening, a concert was held at the Otjiwarongo Retirement Village.
Our next trip was to Tsumeb for an evening concert in the Church Hall; also well visited and appreciated.
The next morning, we travelled 60 km to Grootfontein to treat the scholars of the German School in town. Afterwards, Gottfried taught four music students the “ins and outs” of the handbells, which they clearly enjoyed!