Poland (MNN/HCJB) — Things have come a long way since the 1980s when Polish media partner Henryk Krol had to secretly record Christian music in clandestine studios to avoid reprisals from the then-communist government.
On Monday, June 17, Krzysztof Budzisz, head of the Poland-based CCM Media, was invited to the presidential palace in Warsaw to receive a prestigious award for “helping establish free media and free speech in Poland.”
As part of the celebrations marking the 20-year anniversary of the Poland National Radio and Television Board, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski presented Budzisz with the Cross of Merits. He was the only recipient to represent local media. Others capturing awards included leaders of the country’s National Radio Network and the presidents of two leading commercial networks.
President of HCJB Global Wayne Pederson says HCJB Global helped start the station a number of years ago, but now has grown into a group of five FM stations covering Poland. “It’s great to see how one of your children that had a small start years and years ago is prospering, growing and expanding and actually using some unique and creative strategies to reach more people in the general public with the Gospel.”
“How happy we are about this honor,” said Krol, president and chief executive officer of DEOrecordings which has operated CCM since 1986, using music and media to spread the gospel.
“The thing the government likes about CCM is that we’re helping fulfill the social and local needs of communities,” explained Krol. “We deliver what we promise — playing an active role in local communities; influencing people with an honest and honorable attitude, and adding a pluralistic voice to the media.”
Budzisz, whom Krol credits for bringing lively programming of general interest to CCM’s five-station radio network, said he was “greatly privileged” to accept the award. “But I want to attribute my thanks to God whom we want to serve and my colleagues who make the radio happen.”
Krol added that part of CCM’s strategy is to connect “secular” radio programs with Internet follow-up, accomplished via the SzukajacBoga.pl (Jesus.net) movement. “Thousands of people are individually connected to our army of volunteer ‘e-coaches’ and small-group leaders,” Krol related.
CCM and Radio Fest (an FM station airing in a local Polish dialect) are complemented by preaching and teaching programs on the Internet station, OdkryjRadio.pl. Future plans for expansion include digital, national-scale broadcasting with a full array of programs.
“We’re also hoping to be able to purchase our own building in Gliwice, next to the historic radio tower where World War II was triggered,” Krol said. An attack on a radio station in Gliwice on Aug. 31, 1939, staged by the German secret police served as a pretext for Nazi Germany to invade Poland, marking the start of the war.
Ironically, CCM’s first network station went on the air in Oświęcim, named Auschwitz by the Germans during their occupation of Poland during World War II. This is where more than 1.1 million Jews died in a network of Nazi extermination and concentration camps from 1940 to 1945.
The initial CCM station, started through a partnership with HCJB Global in 1997, went on the air eight years after democracy was established in Poland.
Today CCM’s five FM stations broadcast in an area with 4 million people, reaching an estimated audience of 640,000. Since 2008 the jesus.net website has attracted more than 1.8 million first-time visitors with nearly 290,000 people clicking on a button indicating their desire to follow Christ and some 30,000 requesting follow-up. CCM has 150 active e-coaches who correspond with those who have questions about Christianity.
“While this award was a surprise to us, our goal is to introduce people to Christ, focusing on the most difficult group of listeners-people who are indifferent to religion or even antagonistic,” Krol concluded. “Our real enemy is Satan who wants to enslave people in his kingdom. We constantly pray for wisdom and great ideas to further our means to see people saved.”
Pederson says this is a great example of God using a partnership to spread the Gospel.
Today, HCJB Global has hundreds of opportunities to help local Christians start radio stations. Thailand is just one example. “We have an opportunity to plant 100 radio stations there. We put in about 25. We have 75 to go. We’re putting in stations at a rate of about 2 a month.”
It’s a great opportunity for you to be involved. “$25,000 to $30,000 provides all of the equipment and the training to get the station going. If any of the Mission Network News listeners could get involved in places like Thailand, Nepal or Papua New Guinea, they can go to our website.”
Support HCJB’s Global Radio Planning Initiative by clicking here.