Monday, November 19, 2007

New shortwave station set for Central African Republic

CAF A new shortwave station in Central Africa Republic is making Christian broadcasts and community health information available to most of the country's 3.5 million people. This is the country's first privately owned shortwave station.

Curt Bender of the Indiana-based HCJB Global Technology Center led the team that installed the station in Boali, culminating several years of planning and prayer by partner, Integrated Community Development International (ICDI).

"Our partner, Jim Hocking, and the staff of ICDI have prayed and worked to see this vision of nationwide Christian radio," said Bender, who manages radio planting and development at the technology center in Elkhart.

In a clear example of the voice and hands of Jesus at work, Bender shared, "This is a country that has been devastated by war and HIV/AIDS. The folks at ICDI plan to use the radio broadcasts to help disseminate community health information and to spread the gospel. The needs are immense, but this station is a significant step in helping a people who need so much."

The low-power shortwave station, broadcasting at 6030 kHz, airs eight hours daily with programming in French and three African languages, Sango, Aka and Fulfulde. "This radio station will enable the staff at ICDI to deliver community health information and the gospel daily to remote villages inaccessible by vehicle," he added.

Bender, together with engineers Dan Anderson, Don Hastings and Jeremy Maller, installed the 1,000-watt shortwave transmitter at ICDI, a ministry founded by Hocking 3« years ago.

Anderson said response to the new broadcasts was almost immediate. "Within hours of going on the air the station received cell phone calls from 10 towns across the country even though no formal announcement had been made. Reports came from as far away as 300 miles! Pray that many will come to trust Christ and that the churches in the country will be built up through
the ministry of this station. We thank God for the privilege of having a part in starting this ministry."

A week earlier (Thursday, Feb. 22), the mayor of Boali spoke during a "commissioning ceremony" to thank all the people who helped make the station a reality. "Her comments were aired to the nation over the radio during an initial one-hour test broadcast," Bender said.

The TB1000 shortwave transmitter, while portable and compact like a FM transmitter, "can send the signal much farther than FM transmitters." The antenna, designed at the technology center by Hastings and Maller, covers an area almost the size of a football field when fully assembled.

The team also set up two satellite dishes for access to the Internet. This allows ICDI and other mission organizations in the country to have "reliable e-mail and Internet access," Bender explained.

Hocking first got involved with HCJB Global Voice six years ago when he was with Grace Brethren International Missions. At that time engineers helped the mission set up an FM station in the capital city of Bangui.

"I felt like we needed broadcasts that would reach further," said Hocking. Poor roads make traveling to many villages difficult or dangerous. For these reasons, radio has become the logical tool to reach the inaccessible people of the country.

It was a year after founding ICBI that he began serious discussions with HCJB Global Voice regarding a shortwave station to complement the ministry's community development work. The radio station as an effective way to disseminate community health information and spread the gospel.

ICDI has been involved in various community health projects across Central African Republic such as well-drilling to provide drinking water in remote villages, orphan care and micro-enterprise development.

Hocking expressed his appreciation to the staff at the HCJB Global Technology Center on Monday, March 5. "There would not be a shortwave station on the air today in the Central African Republic if not for the help of HCJB Global," he said. "We are already having fantastic results with people calling from across the country."

Source: HCJB Global in< Slaen-ARG, DXplorer Nov 9)