by Harold Goerzen
More than 200,000 indigenous people hidden deep in Peru’s northern jungles can hear Christian broadcasts—many for the first time—as the result of a cooperative project with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), a local church and HCJB Global.
Spearheading the project was veteran SIL missionary Ray Rising who became well known after being kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas in 1994. He was held captive for 810 days before being released unharmed in 1996. Years later he met with some of his captors in prison, sharing a clear gospel message with them.
Today he’s using his skills to share the good news via the airwaves, broadcasting on a TB1000 (1,000-watt, regional shortwave transmitter) built and designed by engineers at the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart, Ind. The unit, installed with the mission’s help in Chazuta, Peru, last month, is broadcasting a message of hope across the northern third of Peru as well as parts of neighboring Ecuador and Brazil.
Praise the Lord for His miracles!” exclaimed Rising, SIL’s ethnic radio manager, in an email message. “At 8 p.m. Saturday, July 21, Radio Logos went on the air, broadcasting several hours a day (4 a.m.-10 p.m.).”
“I rejoice in the Lord to let you know that [the station] is being an encouragement to those less fortunate people,” added Pastor Jairo Sangama, the local radio partner. “We are very pleased to have the HCJB transmitter which is useful in communicating the Scriptures in the people’s native tongues. We’re now broadcasting in seven languages (Achuar, Bora, Junicui, Ticuna, Pastaza Quechua, San Martín Quechua and Spanish) and hope to incorporate more languages.”
Sangama also expressed gratefulness to HCJB Global missionary Allen Graham for holding a five-day radio workshop attended by 29 people at the new station in mid-August, the third such training to be held in Chazuta, a town of about 10,000 some 500 miles deep in the Amazon.
“It was exciting to see the energy and enthusiasm of the participants from the different language groups as they learned how to prepare programs to reach out to their own people,” Graham said, adding that participants represented seven Amazonian tribes.
“One of the goals of our radio training ministry in Latin America is to develop a network of like-minded Christian broadcasters who can come alongside HCJB Global team members in our workshop,” Graham related. “In Chazuta I was accompanied by Kenny Lazo of Radio Arequipavisión. He did a fantastic job teaching and was well received by the participants. A practicing lawyer, Kenny has volunteered at the Christian station in Arequipa in southern Peru and is passionate about how radio can be used to reach people with the good news of Jesus.”
The station is a landmark achievement for the area’s evangelical churches that stemmed from a single congregation in Chazuta 50 years ago, born as the result of missionary work. Today there are 19 church associations representing 17 language groups in the Peruvian Amazon basin, accounting for more than 500 churches.
The project to install a Christian shortwave radio station culminated nearly two years of planning and prayer, dating back to December 2010 when 120 local church members began preparing the materials to build the station on a 1.2-acre plot donated by the municipality of Chazuta. The station includes recording studios, transmitting equipment and a hostel for those arriving to produce radio programs.
The first 15 radio volunteers were trained in January 2011, and after the studios were completed, they used the newly installed equipment to record 100 radio programs in four languages. The programs include public service announcements, Bible readings, music and special programming for children and women, including lessons based on the book, Women of the Bible.
The station’s “impact statement” says it was established so “indigenous communities across the vast Amazon basin could be reached with the gospel by listening to broadcasts in their own language, transforming their lives. The listeners learn to live according to biblical principles and thus mature in their faith and thus demonstrate positive change of character.”
This was the third TB1000 that HCJB Global has installed in South America in cooperation with Rising. The first two went to Bolivia to spread the gospel in the continent’s central region.
Ray Rising describes more of his 810 days with FARC captors in Colombia in these interview segments with a an audio re-enactment of encouragement via the radio.