“I am a faithful listener of your radio programs,” reads the letter from China. “Your messages comfort me, and the Bible really purifies my heart. Therefore, my life is happy and meaningful. By your great effort, God’s love is reflected through your messages. We are farmers and live in a remote area of Jiangxi Province. It is very far from town. Shortwave broadcasting is the only way for us to receive news.”
This letter sums up the rationale for Adventist World Radio’s continued emphasis on shortwave broadcasting as part of its worldwide ministry of carrying the Adventist message of hope to the unreached people groups of the world in their own languages. There are millions of people who have never heard of Jesus, have never met an Adventist church member, do not have Christian programs on local media, and do not have access to the Internet. But shortwave radio can travel for thousands of miles into their countries, their homes, and their hearts.
This is particularly true in China—the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s biggest mission field, in terms of numbers—which is why AWR has aired broadcasts to China from the first day it began operating a shortwave station on the Pacific island of Guam. In 2013, AWR completed a major upgrade of the station, enabling it to not only improve service to China but also broadcast more effectively to countries throughout Asia, from North Korea and Vietnam to India and Indonesia. Currently, the station is airing 10 hours of programs for China daily, in addition to more than 30 languages for other countries.
“Out of the 400,000 or so Adventist believers in China, approximately half live in the countryside,” says Daniel Wang Xin Jiao, executive secretary of the Chinese Union Mission. “Shortwave radio is critical for people in those remote areas. Also, what I see is that radio is most important for non-Adventists. Once they find a church, they have a place to worship and likely have a Bible. But our media center [in Hong Kong] receives letters from people saying how they have listened to our radio programs and begun keeping the Sabbath, without knowing any Adventist church. They are happy that through us they can be introduced to local churches.”
At the same time, AWR’s audience of online listeners—for on demand programs and podcasts—is expanding by leaps and bounds. Again, China is a prime example. Out of its population of 1.35 billion people, about 40 percent—or 540,000,000— have Internet access. Mandarin is AWR’s #1 podcast, with more than 1.5 million subscribers at the time of writing . . . and this number is growing every day. AWR is also serving China with shortwave and online programs in Uighur, Cantonese, Min Nam, and Tibetan.
Jiao says, “The majority of messages we receive are from Internet listeners. It’s easier for people to contact us through the Internet, and people in cities rarely write letters any more. The advantage of listening online is that people can choose topics of interest from our archived programs and listen whenever they want. This has really expanded the influence of radio.”
So great is the volume of correspondence that the media center employs a full-time “Internet evangelist” to communicate with listeners and conduct Bible studies through e-mail, instant messaging, and video chat.
People from all walks of life are responding to the gospel message, and the letters continue to pour in:
“I am an engineer of a big motor company in China . . . .”
“I work in a factory in Shenzhen . . . .”
“I’m a 20-year-old student . . . .”
AWR truly is a front-line ministry. We invite you to partner with us today in introducing Christ to those who have never heard His name.
Adventist World Radio is the official global radio ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. AWR’s programs can be heard in more than 100 languages through AM/FM and shortwave radio, on demand, and podcasts at awr.org and iTunes.
Shelley Nolan Freesland is Adventist World Radio communication director at the General Conference world headquarters.