Long delays fail to dim Gospel vision for parts of West Africa

By June 3, 2013

Guinea Bissau (HCJB) — Seventeen years have elapsed since "Bynas," a local believer in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, captured the original vision to launch the country's first full-time Christian radio station.

However, the long list of delays included lack of funds and equipment, difficulty receiving a broadcasting license, technical problems, and at least three coups since 1999, the most recent of which erupted in mid-2012.

The delays caused Bynas and HCJB Global engineers to wonder what God had in store for the station's future, but they kept at it.

Today, the station is in place in Gabu, a city in the eastern part of the country with about 200,000 people. Test broadcasts have been successful, and regular programming is set to begin, pending one last delay-final government approval to begin broadcasting.

John Hiskey, the founder and president of Servants to Missions, has a heart to bring the Gospel message to Guinea-Bissau. He saw Bynas' vision and came alongside, believing that Christian radio was a key strategy to spread the gospel message in Guinea-Bissau. Hiskey contacted HCJB Global's Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Office in Accra, Ghana, several years ago. Engineer Jeremy Maller conducted the initial site survey. Then a group of brothers who own a company in Michigan donated funds to HCJB Global to pay for the studio equipment.

"We have encountered delays all along the way," related Hiskey. "But it wasn't until after the coup last year that we realized what God was doing. Had there not been delays, our radio station would have been destroyed during the coup along with all the other stations in the country."

Two months ago, Ed Muehlfelt from the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart, Ind., helped install a 224-foot radio tower, antenna, and coaxial cable in Gabu. In early April, Maller and Alex Walker, a British engineer serving at the office in Accra, joined with Muehlfelt to install studio equipment, test the transmitter and antenna, and help train the radio staff.

Although the first test broadcast was brief, it was heard by Fernando Gomes, a guard at the campus where the new station is located. Despite being a Muslim, 73-year-old Gomes was excited that Rádio Evangélica FM was finally a reality. "I am very happy with your work here," he said in an interview. "Keep doing what you are doing. We cannot repay you…but God will."

Four national churches will be responsible for the operation of the new station, and Bynas will be the station manager. "The broadcasts will cover about two-thirds of the nation," explained Hiskey in a recent e-mail. "The signal reaches the borders to the north, east, and south, and about two-thirds of the way across the nation to the west. It's a real blessing."

Will you pray for this fledging ministry? The new station will complement the Hiskeys' ministry of serving local pastors and missionaries.

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