By Aaron Crisler and Diane Degnan
Since the first United Methodist radio station in Africa, ELUM 98.7, opened its doors in Liberia in March 2007, radio has been successfully used for evangelism and delivering health information and community news.
Those with ready access to information often take for granted the myriad of ways they are able to receive information. From TV to internet, text messages to podcasts, radio and more, the world is – quite literally – always at their fingertips. For people in less developed parts of the world, however, that’s not the case. United Methodist Communications is exploring every available way to reach people and radio provides a reliable, wide-reaching, and relatively inexpensive communication channel to deliver life-changing and life-saving messages in places where internet access, cell phones, and other communication means are lacking.
"United Methodist Communications is working to implement communications technologies and build infrastructure to help the church reach audiences around the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Dan Krause, the agency's chief executive. "We are committed to using the power of communication to transform lives, build community, and bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ. Elsewhere in Africa, we have seen how radio plays an important role in all of these."
“Especially where access to internet is low and often quite expensive, broadcast radio is a critical way to reach large audiences with messages of hope, health, joy, and healing,” says Ashley Gish, Director of Strategy, Global Communications Technology.
Recently, United Methodist Communications provided much-needed financial support – to the tune of $42,000 – to help relaunch Radio Lokole in Kinshasha in the Central Congo Episcopal Area. The station began operating a decade ago, but was out of commission after suffering various difficulties. With new leadership and a new sustainability plan, the funding allowed retrofitting of the defunct station from the ground up and the station celebrated its relaunch in July 2021.
Henriette Kumakana, director for Radio Lokole, said that radio helps to gives hope by providing messages that contribute to education, environment, social, health, culture, sports and more. “We have heard good feedback from people. All this is thanks to the United Methodist Communications contribution.”
Grace Radio, a new station to be built in Taraba State, will be the first faith-based station in a conflict-prone region where more than 65 percent of United Methodists live in rural areas and only government radio is currently operating. Grace Radio received initial grant funding of $100,000 to help build a facility and provide equipment through a partnership with The United Methodist Church in Nigeria and the United Methodist Radio Network.
“The United Methodist Radio Network (UMRN) has been an invaluable catalyst to growth and development of United Methodist broadcast presence globally; and the Central Congo and Nigeria Episcopal Areas along with their newly appointed radio station teams have worked tirelessly to launch their respective stations with the guidance and support of the UMRN,” said Gish.
''The radio ministry is an essential vector in the mission of the annual conferences. Internet and television are sometimes inaccessible, while the radio is a local medium that reaches all households, even in remote areas,” said Pacome N’guessan, Field Project Manager for West Africa, Global Communication Technology (UMCom) and Executive Secretary (United Methodist Radio Network). “That is why the United Methodist Radio Network encourages annual conferences to establish radio stations as an instrument of evangelism. It is truly a joy to help transform lives through the radio ministry. Beyond the airwaves, the radio remains a powerful tool of evangelization. We put technology at the service of the ministry of radio.''
In addition to Grace Radio, Radio Lokole and ELUM 98.7, other United Methodist radio stations include Voice of Hope (Côte d'Ivoire) and Radio Kairos (Angola).
“The radio ministry is very important for me,” says Pierre Omadjela, Field Project Manager for Congo Central Conference, Global Communication Technology team (UMCom). “Thanks to the radio, we are able to reach different categories of people whom we may not meet physically. We can teach them, help to heal their heart and all without any risk of contamination to Covid-19. We also allow people to discover us as United Methodists, they are able to know what we believe, what is our doctrine, and how we are organized. I am so happy to be counted among the people doing the radio ministry in our denomination.”
For more than 80 years, United Methodist Communications has been leading the church in telling inspirational stories of God’s work in the world through The United Methodist Church, reaching new people, supporting local churches in vibrant communications ministry, equipping leaders and delivering messages of hope and healing. This essential work requires financial support. If you believe in our mission, consider a tax-deductible donation to the work of United Methodist Communications through its Foundation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.