Adapted from The Lutheran Layman, Vol. 84, No. 6 November-December 2013
By Eric Gates, Regional Director, Africa and the Middle East
Deep in the tropical forests of southeastern Liberia, Elder Kulee Slebo is alone in the night. Mr. Slebo is a wood technician. He spends many days at a time exploring the forests to find suitable quality trees for his employer, a wood exporter. By the light of his lantern in the dark forest, he uses Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Bible Correspondence Courses to study God’s Word. He learned about LHM’s Bible Courses from a weekly radio broadcast by Lutheran Hour Ministries—Liberia.
It is estimated that more than 90 percent of Africans have access to radio, either at home or at a workplace, making it the dominant form of communication on the continent. Lutheran Hour Ministries supports evangelism outreach in ten of the countries of Africa. In two of those countries, various restrictions preclude the use of radio—but in the other eight, LHM uses radio as a powerful means of spreading the Gospel; in fact, LHM has been expanding the use of radio in several countries over the past two years.
The Middle East. Our Beirut-based Arabic-language radio program was re-initiated on Reformation Day, October 31, 2011. Since the program first aired two years ago, the Middle East has seen unprecedented turmoil and revolution. Our program has brought the unwavering message of God’s love and His plan for His people to listeners in nearly every country in the region, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, and even Saudi Arabia. During this time, we have received several thousand responses to our broadcast. The program has been especially well received by refugees or politically oppressed listeners in Syria and Egypt.
Liberia. In the spring of 2013, LHM launched a new radio program together with a new ministry center in Monrovia, Liberia. The program, which first aired on June 1, originates from the national radio station in Monrovia and is broadcast nationwide on relay networks. Elder Slebo, whose story we told at the outset of this article, is just one of several hundred people who have responded to the weekly program by becoming students in LHM’s Bible Correspondence Courses.
Madagascar. Lutheran Hour Ministries has tripled its radio broadcasting in the island nation of Madagascar over the past two years! Radio is inexpensive in many regions of Madagascar—costing as little as US $25.00 per 30-minute slot in some places. From the capital, Antananarivo, we expanded in 2012 to Toamasina, a coastal city of more than 135,000 people. In August 2013 we expanded again, this time to Antsirabe, Madagascar’s third-largest city with more than 180,000 people. Our strong relationships with many congregations of the Malagasy Lutheran Church in the area allow Lutheran Hour Ministries to connect people to nearby faith communities when they respond to the radio program. One of the largest and fastest-growing Lutheran churches in the world, the Malagasy Lutheran Church is passionate about reaching out with the love of Jesus.
Malawi. And in the nation of Malawi, July saw the launch of a completely new weekly radio program, Growing in Faith. This 30-minute program airs in the local Chichewa language in Lilongwe, a city of nearly 700,000. Malawi is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, and the lives of many Malawians are shortened by disease—life expectancy in Malawi is only 50.3 years. In addition, Islam is on the rise in Malawi. People need desperately to hear a message of hope and redemption.
Our broadcast in Malawi is aimed at the young urban population—people whose lives are often consumed by poverty and social challenges such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and family breakups that result from a lack of parental education. The Growing in Faith program offers Malawian youth a biblical perspective on engaging with their parents or elders as well as on coping with the loss of older family members.
When Elder Slebo visited our Liberia ministry center in Monrovia, he was on his way to the heart of the jungle on a month-long quest for trees to export. The reason he stopped in: to ask for all of the lessons of the next Bible Correspondence Course he was scheduled to take; he explained, “I need the entire set so I can work on them while I’m in the bush.” And he added, “I feel like someone attending a Bible seminary these days!”
To learn more about Lutheran Hour Ministries’ outreach using radio and other media across Africa and around the world, visit www.lhm.org/international.