International (MNN) — "I haven't seen anything that can change a community so quickly as bringing in water." That's the President of HCJB Global, Wayne Pederson. He's talking about the impact water can have on a community, both physically and spiritually.
HCJB Global, an evangelical missionary organization integrating broadcast media and healthcare ministries to serve as the voice and hands of Jesus, is utilizing an unlikely tool in new ways to bring clean water and sanitation to the world: radio. Since a recent water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conference in Ghana, Sub-Saharan Africans are receiving essential training and practical applications for their own communities on radio from radio announcers.
In a concerted effort to meet the critical need of clean water in some of the most remote parts of the world, follow-up training via radio unites two of the main ministries of HCJB Global: HCJB Global Voice and HCJB Global Hands.
HCJB Global Voice refers to the mission's worldwide media ministries, extending across national boundaries, often entering places where no missionary can go. Efforts are largely concentrated on evangelism and discipleship through radio and other media.
HCJB Global Hands refers to the growing array of healthcare and community development ministries, working with partners to make healthcare accessible to needy people in Latin America, Africa, and beyond via hospitals, clinics, mobile medical ministries, clean water projects, and training for rural healthcare workers.
The follow-up to the WASH conference provides the opportunity for the ministry to integrate the conference training with delivery of information to the grassroots via radio.
"Every day 4,000 children die of water-related diseases. No other single intervention is more likely to have a significant impact on global poverty than the provision of safe water," said Sheila Leech, the mission's vice president of international healthcare. "Adding sanitation and hygiene to clean water raises the improvement in people's health from 20% to 85% at relatively little cost and huge impact on human lives. Now that we are able to communicate through radio with people in remote villages about simple tasks that will save their lives, the results are multiplied exponentially."
Ministry partners from several Christian nonprofits and five countries attended the conference in Abouri (near Accra). They participated in Bible studies as a biblical basis for development and innovative teaching methods, including questions, songs, jingles, and drama.
HCJB Global intentionally invited radio ministry partners to receive in-person training at the conference with the goal of interesting them in the WASH curriculum which they could translate into a delivery-system to teach the principles of sanitation and hygiene through radio spots and programs.
Pederson says, "We train the people on the radio to do programming that addresses needs such as hygiene. And so we do programs on nutrition, the importance of washing your hands, and disposing of human waste properly."
Through radio, they're able to do great things, says Pederson. "We don't call the radio stations 'Christian' stations. We call them 'community' stations" because they do more than proclaim the Gospel. "They talk about marriage and children, education, culture, news and health, and nutrition. It's about having not only a better life in eternity, but a better life here on earth," he says.
"We value our radio partners as vital in communicating life-saving and life-changing basic principles of sanitation and hygiene. Radio is the most direct avenue to transform communities in the most remote regions," said Beth Patton, director of priority projects. "We will send teams into villages and communities, but we cannot reach them all. Radio will go where we cannot."
Pederson says Christians need to minister as Jesus did. "Jesus, when He walked on earth, not only attended to the spiritual Kingdom needs of people, but He address their physical needs as well. We feel, as followers of Jesus, that we need to be doing the same thing."
For 80 years, the passion of HCJB Global (www.hcjbglobal.org) has been to make disciples of Christ. Using mass media, healthcare and education, and working with partners around the world, HCJB Global has ministries in more than 100 countries. The Gospel is aired in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are meeting Jesus. Local believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters, and healthcare providers.
To make a special or ongoing gift to HCJB Global or to this particular project, visit www.hcjb.org.