The Middle East is one of the most challenging areas of the world for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Why? “In these countries can be found the most stringent limitations on religious liberty and an absolute stronghold by Muslim believers,” says Dowell Chow, president of Adventist World Radio. “Persecution certainly takes place in other parts of the world, but in some countries in the Middle East, people can easily be killed if they aren’t extremely careful of every single thing they do and say.”
At the same time, there are very, very few Adventists in this region. In fact, in some places there is not one known Adventist in the entire region.
How can we effectively bring the light of Jesus to the enormous populations of the Middle East? The handful of local church members cannot spread the gospel message on their own, but AWR’s shortwave broadcasts and podcasts are able to reach millions of listeners in the privacy of their homes. Through AWR, Muslims are hearing and responding to the love of Jesus. One listener wrote: “Your station has been a first ‘window’ for me to be introduced to Christianity in the right way.”
AWR’s program producers come from the same cultures as their listeners; they are able to find common ground and present the path to salvation in a way that those listening can understand. Their programs are bringing hope and comfort in Christ to those who need it most.
A listener in Afghanistan sent a letter to AWR that read: “For a few months now, my family and I have been listening to each one of your programs. They make our hearts come alive again. In our city and country that has been torn apart by war, where there is no peace or trust among the people, where everyone is worried if they can keep themselves alive for one more day, the message of Jesus Christ is our only light. I have sincerely trusted in His Word, and I am following Him.”
Arabic is one of AWR’s highest-priority mission languages. It has been difficult to maintain program production, but at a new studio at the Al Waad Media Center in Beirut, Lebanon, staff and volunteers are now creating programs in Arabic, Farsi, Kabyle, and Tachelit. Elsewhere, AWR is producing programs in Turkish and Farsi, and is currently working to set up production in Pashto and Sindhi.
Recently, there have been exciting developments in North Africa, where AWR is partnering with the Spanish Union of Churches Conference. From Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, the signal from a small FM radio station is reaching millions of people on the coastline of Morocco . . . 125 miles away! This kind of reach is unheard of, but we know that God’s hand is at work.
From the small Spanish enclave of Ceuta, on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar, a station is broadcasting 24/7 in five languages: Spanish, English, Arabic, French, and Berber. The potential audience is tremendous, not only in Morocco, but also for the hundreds of ships that pass through the strait every day. The Adventists in Spain have such a passion to help the people in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and more, that they are going the third mile to set up still more stations in additional locations.
AWR is your mission radio, and we invite you to partner with us in reaching the world for Christ.
Adventist World Radio is the official global radio ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its mission is to broadcast the Adventist hope in Christ to the unreached people groups of the world in their own languages. AWR’s programs can be heard in nearly 100 languages through AM/FM and shortwave radio, on demand, and podcasts at awr.org and iTunes.
Shelley Nolan Freesland is AWR communication director at the General Conference world headquarters.