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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Modern media

The use of visual programs for evangelism goes back many generations, even when projectors used kerosene lighting. Now the internet, diverse audio-visuals such as DVDs, radio, and television are becoming even more important in evangelism and discipling. The pioneer missionary radio station was HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, founded by Clarence W. Jones in 1931. After the war, Far East Broadcasting Company was started in Manila and Trans World Radio in Monte Carlo. These ministries now have multiplied transmitters in many locations. These major missionary radio organizations have joined in a consortium of 13 agencies called The World by Radio, which together have over 50 short-wave transmitters broadcasting the gospel internationally from 31 locations, 5500 hours a week.

Of about 280 megalanguages (with over a million speakers), by 2000, broadcasts are reaching 208 of them, with 10 to 15 being added annually. The trend today is to minimize global broadcasting on radio frequencies few can receive, preferring local transmitters and uploading programs on streaming video or audio for a much larger audience.

The present trend is to use satellite transmission to many local medium-wave and FM stations, since these stations can connect more directly with the people. For example, over one hundred stations in Latin America can rebroadcast Spanish programs off a satellite. With the multiplication of portable transistor radios (now 2.5 billion), most people, even in remote places, can hear these stations as never before. Such a station can adequately cover a city of 100,000 population.

Add to this the growing availability of television receivers and Christian television programming, and now, opportunities become unlimited. There are three international TV ministries: The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) broadcasts in 10 languages, and both SAT-7 and the Bible Channel (TBC) broadcast in the Arab Middle East. Although the potential is unlimited, this medium has only begun to be used effectively.

Joy Ritterhof founded Gospel Recordings in 1939, which has recorded the gospel message in 4900 languages. This is especially significant in reaching isolated peoples. Now missionaries use audio and video cassettes, as well as simple disk playback devices. The Jesus Film is available in 547 languages and has been seen by 2.6 billion people. It is now available on DVDs with multiple languages on the soundtrack.

C. Gordon Olson and Don Fanning, What in the World Is God Doing?: The Essentials of Global Missions, Seventh Edition, Expanded, Revised, & Updated (Lynchburg, VA: Global Gospel Publishers, 2013), 161–162.

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