Australia (MNN/HCJB) — A 24-year-old dream finally comes to life in Australia.
"Prayer and miracles were very much a part of this 24-year story," says Wayne Pederson of HCJB Global.
David Maindonald seemed incredulous as he reflected on his 24-year vision to air the gospel via shortwave radio from Australia to the Asia Pacific Region.
“Yes, the story of HCJB Global-Australia is truly a story of what God has done,” he told a crowd at the dedication of the ministry’s new international broadcast site in Kununurra, adjacent to the original site that had been used to broadcast since 2003. “And we want to give Him all the glory,” he commented, referring to an Old Testament Bible verse, “See what God has done!” (Numbers 23:23, NIV).
Others urged him to abandon what was called in 1989 his “far-fetched” vision, foreseeing obstacles in acquiring radio licenses and land for the site. When potential donors were approached with the idea, they predicted problems finding staff and money for the project.
“That wasn’t easy to handle,” related Maindonald, who led the mission’s Australia office for nearly two decades. Among the 100 attendees at the April 21 event, braving 100 degree (Fahrenheit) heat and biting insects, was HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson, who deemed as a miracle the station’s presence on the shortwave frequencies. The facilities broadcast the gospel in 26 languages from Kununurra near the northern tip of Western Australia.
“It’s reaching some of the most populous and least-reached places of the world–going into Japan, China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia,” Pederson said later in an audio report.
Excerpts from listeners’ letters were featured in a brochure distributed at the ceremony. One listener had written from India’s Gujarat state, “We do not have a church. Radio programs are a blessing for us to know about Jesus. We listen to Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, and Punjabi programs. The reception is good. Pray that my family and I and would accept Jesus, too.”
A listener in Indonesia wrote, “Your station is totally different from any other I’ve ever known. It brings peace, joy, and hope–things that have been lost in my life for quite a long time.”
Pederson outlined some of the trials encountered along the way. “Through many years of overcoming regulations, federal permissions, local clearances, financial challenges, and power line difficulties, this station is now a reality,” he said. Then he coupled those comments with explanations of bargains obtained to broadcast from the site.
“The curtain antenna came from Croatia. It was brand new but it was intended by the communists to send propaganda all across the former Soviet Union. The towers were bought from the Australian Army for 5 cents on the dollar. Those are scrap metal prices! The transmitters are the refurbished transmitters from Radio Station HCJB in Ecuador, now being repurposed to reach this part of the world.”
Also attending the ceremony were HCJB Global Asia Pacific Executive Director Ty Stakes, Australian Member of Parliament Barry Haase and Meg Shedley, who turns 90 this year. Back in 1997 when the Australian government still wasn’t issuing international broadcast licenses, she and her husband, Don, donated a 200-acre farm in Kununurra in faith that it could serve as an international shortwave site.
“This site has so many advantages,” John Stanley had said of the site at that time. An engineer who helped to staff the mission’s shortwave site in Ecuador decades ago, Stanley serves as an international broadcasting consultant.
“Assuming that a license can be obtained, it would be difficult to see it as anything other than God’s provision,” Stanley had concluded. After the towers were procured, staff members and countless volunteers began erecting them on the donated land that was also used to raise sugarcane. The applications for broadcast licenses were turned down three times however, according to Maindonald. Then an unexpected answer came on April 18, 2001.
“The laws of Australia were changed, and we were given not one but four international broadcasting licenses, and we had to be on air within two years,” he recounted. “Suddenly the dream of international broadcasting came alive again.”
An HC100 (100,000-watt) shortwave transmitter that had been shipped from Ecuador to the U.S. was in turn shipped to Australia just as U.S. dockworkers went on strike. In late 2002 it arrived in Australia, where station staff needed every bit of time to get it operational in time for the deadline. Negotiations with authorities resulted in more than $100,000 in duty and taxes being waived. The shortwave station went on the air on Jan. 5, 2003, with five hours of programming to the South Pacific. A month later the South Asia broadcasts to India began.
Although well-suited to shortwave broadcasting, the original site was too small for expansion. “It was always intended to be temporary,” according to Dale Stagg, Australian director and CEO. “Basically, when the licenses were granted we had a two-year timeframe to get on the air so we had to get up and running as best we could and look to future development beyond that time. The new site is part of a 1,200-acre parcel of land leased from the state government about a mile from the original site.” The Shedley property is now used for staff housing.
In 2005 a high-quality curtain antenna was purchased from a radio station in Croatia for a quarter of its market value and erected three years later. In 2006 a second HC100 was shipped to Australia. The 21-year lease from the Western Australia government for the 1,200-acre site was also signed in 2006. In 2011 the high-tension power line was installed along with a donated parabolic antenna from Ecuador.
In 2012 one of the existing transmitters was relocated to the new transmitter building, and broadcasts began at the new site in July 2012. In March 2013 broadcasts commenced using both 100-kw transmitters.
“India, one of our priority countries, has a population of over 1.2 billion people,” Stagg said. “Sixty percent of India’s population does not even have access to FM, so shortwave for India is still a crucial means of communication.”
“A third HC100 coming in a few months will be digital, enabling us to reach a whole new audience with the clear, digital sounds of shortwave,” added Pederson. “[Our Australian partners] are dedicated people, and they've done a great job. You should see this impressive facility.”
“Our broadcast site gives us great access to the Asia Pacific Region,” Stagg recounted. “Our region contains more than 4 billion people and many of the world’s unreached people groups.”
Even though the station is on-air, something's missing.
"The need is for more and more teachers and radio personnel that can produce programs," states Pederson.
Your prayers are needed to keep this project going.
"Continue to pray that God would supply the people and the financial resources to get the job done," Pederson requests.
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