Posted by: calloftheandes | July 28, 2009

Ecuadorian Musician, Radio Producer Jorge Zambrano Dies at 63

jorgezLongtime missionary Jorge Zambrano, a veteran of 35 years of ministry with HCJB Global, died Thursday, July 23, at his daughter’s home in Norristown, Pa., after battling cancer. He was 63.

Born in Ambato, Ecuador, on Jan. 3, 1946, Jorge was raised in a religious home, yet without the knowledge of Jesus’ love for him as an individual. At 18 he came to the U.S. seeking a new life as a guitar player. Instead, he found new life in Jesus Christ through the ministry of Hawthorne Gospel Church in New Jersey.

As his wife, Denise, of nearly 37 years put it, “Jorge embraced God’s gift by admitting his sin, believing in Jesus and committing his life to the service of his Savior.” In an interview several years ago, Jorge said he knew about Radio Station HCJB since childhood. “After I accepted Christ as my Savior in May 1965, my initial spiritual growth took place through listening to the Voice of the Andes all the way from Ecuador via shortwave.”

Noticing Jorge’s hunger for spiritual growth, fellow church members urged Jorge to attend Miami Christian College in Florida where he completed a Bachelor of Science in communication in 1972. He also completed a master’s degree in communication from Wheaton Graduate School in Illinois in 1980 and a doctorate in ministry from Master’s Divinity School in Newburgh, Ind.

As a student, Jorge served as a summer missionary with Trans World Radio in Bonaire in 1970 and Radio Station HCJB in Quito in 1971. “During my college years I looked to God for guidance, and it became very clear that God wanted me to return to my home country to share in any way possible the good news with my people,” Jorge related.

While at Miami Christian College, Jorge and Denise met, marrying on Sept. 2, 1972. Just 1½ years later they arrived in Ecuador to serve as missionaries with HCJB Global. Jorge’s first 12 years with the mission were spent in the television department, working as an audio/video producer, director, host, artist/musician and newsman.

In the music department, Jorge was in charge of program production of Latin American Christian, Ecuadorian and Quechua Indian music. He applied his excellent skills as a musician and bilingual speaker in the radio ministry, producing programs in both English and Spanish that aired worldwide via shortwave on Radio Station HCJB. (See a tribute in German to Jorge.)

Curt Cole, one of HCJB Global’s vice presidents of international ministries, called Jorge a “gifted musician and radio man who produced one of HCJB’s longest running radio programs, ‘Música del Ecuador’ (Music of Ecuador). For years listeners rated that program as one of the top international shortwave programs.” (A replica of p. 51 of the 1999 edition of Passport to World Band Radio is below.)

“Jorge demonstrated a passion to serve the Lord through his music and testimony,” added HCJB Global-Canada Director Ian Leaver. “He was an expert on the Latin music genre and loved to play the music of his country, Ecuador. He had a great knowledge of the history of music in Latin America and would include this on his award-winning radio program.”

Musician Michio Ozaki, an HCJB Global missionary in Texas, told of Jorge’s lasting influence. “Although I grew up in Ecuador, it wasn’t until I met Jorge that my love for Ecuadorian and Latin American music was born,” he shared. “Since then we often switched roles as he was my teacher of Ecuadorian music, and then as a producer I recorded and arranged Ecuadorian music, often using Jorge’s ability on the charango and requinto. Performing Ecuadorian music together took us to many, many places—a remote village in the jungles of Ecuador, churches large and small in Canada and Hawaii, and the Christian Music Festival in a large stadium in Tokyo.”

Jorge also taught in HCJB Global’s Christian Center of Communications and managed the station’s multi-track audio facilities. He produced albums for many Ecuadorian musicians and recorded thousands of hours of Ecuadorian music. He worked tirelessly, digitally re-mastering and preserving the best of those recordings. At one point Jorge directed FM station HCJB-2 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and he translated Kay Arthur’s “Precepts” radio program into Spanish.

In addition serving at the mission, Jorge was a Sunday school teacher, preacher, counselor and musician in his Ecuadorian Quichua church, Fuente de Vida, in Quito. He pastored the church for many years before returning to the U.S. on home ministry assignment/medical leave in 2008.

“Jorge adored his wife, children [Linda and Danny] and two grandchildren,” said Leaver. “One of my favorite memories is when he and Michio Ozaki came to Canada to do concerts for our HCJB Global dinner/concert tour in 2004. On the ferry to Vancouver Island, Jorge watched in amazement as the belly of the ship filled with countless vehicles. Standing at the window he quietly said, ‘We don’t have anything like this in Ambato.’ We all roared with laughter!”

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 25, at Spruce Street Baptist Church at 3701 Gradyville Rd., Newtown Square, PA 19073 with a second service in Quito Saturday, Aug. 22. Memorial donations may be sent to Spruce Street Baptist Church, designated for Fuente de Vida.



  1. Thanks Ralph,

    We did not know that these two had left and gone to heaven.

    Jorge and his music. I still play a tape of him and the other kid doing Ecuadorian music with their little instruments. Love it. …that they could get such beautiful music from such little instruments.

    Hope all is well. We are doing well, too. PTL.

    Warren & Betty Griffin

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