Posted by: calloftheandes | May 29, 2011

Behind the Wheel to Behind the Pulpit, Ecuadorian Technician a ‘Product of HCJB’

Photos by M. Harrison
Story by R.V. Kurtenbach

What were Enrique Romero’s qualifications for technical work at Radio Station HCJB in the early 1940s? He could drive a car … and he could bray like a donkey.

As a guest in April at the station’s campus in Quito, Ecuador, Romero was introduced by Anabella Cabezas who began working at the station two decades ago as a bilingual secretary. Presently the executive director of media in Latin America, Cabezas serves on the mission’s regional leadership council.

Wayne Pederson, left, with Enrique Romero


Romero was then asked by HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson if any interesting stories came to mind about the mission’s co-founder and longtime leader, Clarence W. Jones.

“Oh yes!” Romero replied mischievously, to the delight of his audience. “And about everybody else! But he (Dr. Jones) is not here to defend himself.”

Radio was still young when Romero began chauffeuring missionaries around Quito and to other cities or towns in Ecuador. At times, his voice provided the sound effects! His opportunity came when Jones needed a technician and Romero offered, “I can go and get him.”

File photo shows (l to r) C. Howard, E. Romero, P. Shirk, R. Larson, C. Jones, E. Zarria, M. Krekler, unidentified at present

“Well, can’t you do this?” Jones countered, so Romero said, “Yes!” Decades later he confided to Pederson and an amused crowd, “I didn’t know anything!”

Nonetheless, Romero began operating a sound console, blending audio from microphones and other sound sources for live radio shows. He took on additional tasks, working with Edmundo Zarria, Clayton and Helen Howard (all deceased) and Jaime Jarrín, known among Hispanics in California as “The Voice of the Dodgers.”

Romero’s expanding interests surpassed trade skills. A devout Catholic, he nonetheless had not read or studied the Bible for himself. In doing so during his years with HCJB, he found a personal walk with Jesus Christ some 10 years after starting to chauffer the staff in 1941.

Afterwards, Romero began pastoring a church in central Quito, Church of the Divine Redeemer which late HCJB Global missionaries Dr. Abe Van Der Puy and Bob Savage had co-founded. This was his proving ground; the experience matured and developed him. He told the crowd he has preached in 22 congregations.

“Nobody knew how to sing the hymns,” he related, telling of teaching people the hymns that Savage had collected, arranged, and compiled into what may have been the region’s first Protestant hymnbook. “I traveled a lot,” he said. “It was my privilege, along with José Andrade, to attend a Billy Graham conference in Germany.”

Throughout the ensuing years with HCJB Global, other opportunities presented themselves to Romero. There was a scholarship to learn English, and to attend a seminary in Costa Rica where he met and befriended José “Chema” Reinoso, a pastor from Dominican Republic whose HCJB Global career also spanned decades. Today in Atlanta, Reinoso voices the Spanish version of Charles Stanley’s “In Touch” radio program.

With tutoring in English, however, Romero said the effort was futile. “I think I paid more attention to the señorita. I didn’t learn!” he quipped. With Pederson extending the microphone to Romero, his talk was translated entirely by Allen Graham.

“HCJB has made the Word of God known throughout the world,” Romero concluded. “The first step is to gain a hearing, to find favor. When radio gains a hearing, it wins the heart,” he said. “I am a product of HCJB.”

Allen Graham translates as Romero regales his audience with stories of HCJB's past

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Responses

  1. […] HCJB Ecuador, an Ecuadorian foundation now operating the station that began in 1931, garnered the International Media Award while Pederson received the Milestone Award for at least 50 years of “exemplary service in Christian broadcasting.” […]

  2. […] families that their program of Christmas carols and preaching had been heard. Since then the programming has offered listeners Christian teaching, music, public affairs reporting, news and […]

  3. […] of those honored at a Sesión Solemne (Solemn Session) was Enrique Romero, who in 1941 began as a chauffeur at the pioneer missionary broadcaster, Radio Station HCJB, in Ecuador’s capital city. This was just 10 years after the ministry’s […]

  4. We knew and worked with Enrique. Thanks for this update. Since our 3 children also remember him we shared this with them. Our oldest son ran TV cameras with him. Leonard and I started 3 or 4 mornings a week with Enrique and Bob Savage on Himnos de la Vida Cristiana live at 7:50 am. He is a great part of HCJBs history.

    • Thanks Imogene. I recently added a story about how Enrique and others were honored in Quito. Please see “Past, Present Staff Honored in Ecuador at Mission’s 80th Anniversary” here at Call of the Andes. Best to you and Leonard. -Ralph


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