Along with the song artist Laura Story, it was my privilege and honor to share a word of encouragement from God’s word on the 30th anniversary of WHCF (Where He Comes First) in Bangor, Maine, USA. Christian Radio ministry technically involves three essential phases: 1) effectively transmitting a message 2) people clearly receiving it and 3) being benefitted or changed by it!
1. Transmission: “Our Gospel Came to You” (v.5 How it Reaches us)
1.1 In words: Sure not merely with words, yet the message didn’t materialize out of thin air! It had content and involved the choice of appropriate ‘words’. In the lyrics of music played, substance of sermons or programs advertised, words matter and are important. Pixar animated moving images with Dolby sound effects, still need to be meaningfully interpreted and discussed in sentences with ‘words’– building ‘blocks’ of communication! What is being transmitted are God’s wonderful words of life and word of truth, for life!
1.2 With power: these words had powerful effects – not the external, stage set-ups with loud Bose decibels, strobe lights and smoke machines – but created by a divine source – the Holy Spirit quietly at work through these same words. The real force is with us when we prayer knowing that PrayerWorks! (WHCF’s interactive website) This makes Christian radio distinctively different and alive – it touches lives with Jesus’ love and offers hope!
1.3 With deep conviction: With the objective truth (word) sounded forth and the Spirit’s power (work) through them is another subjective factor characterizing Christian radio – the (worker) messengers’ confidence in bringing it to us (Isa.55:11)! They must believe in the value of its content yet beyond their competence, be convinced of their personal call and of the Gospel’s ability to produce faith unto salvation in the hearts of hearers!
2. Reception: “You Welcomed the Message” (v.6, How we Receive it)
2.1 In spite of severe suffering: Christian airwaves cross socio-political barriers that human and other means cannot. Radio reaches those who cannot come to church and makes inroads into ‘closed’ countries and ‘restricted’ conditions. Its doors of opportunity swing on the hinges of opposition. No surprise, it bombards the territory and is in direct mortal combat with the prince of the power of the air! Our Lord forewarned us (Jn.16:33) so we are not dissuaded, despite conflicts (within/out), ill health or financial issues!
2.2 With great joy: the recipients welcomed the message embracing it with jubilation! It’s intriguing how the same Spirit empowering the sender’s words on the other end is producing joy in the hearers’ hearts! Joy over folks returning to God, believers enduring trials assured of a joy set before them, and the Gospel creating joy amidst hostility is a pattern in Christian mission. It is the Lord of the Lord which is our strength for service!
2.3 Becoming imitators: The Gospel’s dynamic message made them imitators of the apostles and of Christ who they modeled to them. Christianity is Christ, following Christ, becoming more like him! You try shaping this message, it shapes you! They also became transformers! Of all the churches Paul started or served, this is the only one that he called – a “model”.
3. Broadcasting: “the Message Rang out from you” (v.8, how we Relay it)
3.1 The Gospel sounded forth: This made me think of Radio where the message rings out or is broadcast loud and clear. The word was used of reverberating noise; of a bell, a trumpet call or thundering! We also get the word ‘echo’ from it and sure the believers realized what they got was to give away! Technology is a modern miracle that helps do this with speed, strategy and success like never before. There was more they gave…
3.2 Their faith in God was well-known: Their message had a loud impact, but their faith had a quieter, lingering influence. After the excitement is over, how we need the latter! ‘Everywhere’ their winsome witness penetrated, the gospel spread slowly but surely. Many – beyond Greece, Rome even Ephesus – not just hearing but ‘seeing’ their new ‘song of salvation’ turned to Christ and were joining in the chorus (Psa.40:2)! Christian faith is contagious and communal!
3.3 Christian community was modeled to the world: Our individualistic societies long to experience Immanuel – God with us (not just despicable me!) They demonstrated what is (1) true faith to non-believing idolaters (2) authentic Christianity to nominal ‘church-goers’, (3) ‘Church’ as the “people of God” to all peoples (nations) of the earth. We need such ‘broadcasting believers’, impact partners: individuals and local churches networking with WHCF who together touch to transform lives with the hope and love of Jesus!