Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reaching the World for Christ

There are countless ministry opportunities and organizations in the world today. 

So, why Trans World Radio? There are a number of answers to that question. The first is largely providential: Heather was exposed to the ministry through personal connections, pursued and landed a short internship, and fell in love. So, when we were dating/engaged and talking about our mutual desire to serve God and our openness to overseas -- even full-time, vocational -- ministry, TWR came up often. Since Heather had already worked with them and had that personal connection, we applied for a short-term ministry position. God flung the door wide open -- the PR department in Europe (where Heather had worked before) was in need of people with exactly our skills. We were delighted to accept the offer to join their ministry and began fundraising for a 10-month stay.  (Note from Heather:  They were excited to hear I wanted to come back, but when they saw Mike's resume, it was all about him!  Hmph!  :-) )

The second answer to that question is tied to the first: God opened the door. He could have closed it.

The third and final answer is that we believe that what Trans World Radio is doing is good, effective, and important to the spread of the gospel and building of the church.

How is this the best use of missions dollar?
Okay, we can't presume to tell you what is the best use, but we're pretty darn sure TWR is one of the most efficient ministries out there, and, if you're looking to make your dollar go as far as possible, this is a great ministry.  This is how giving to TWR works.

When I (Heather) went to work with Trans World Radio in the fall of 2006 for a semester, the total cost of my trip (travel, rent, etc.) that I needed to raise was roughly $5,000.  With that $5,000, I was able to work daily on writing grants for radio programs that needed funding to be created or to be expanded to meet a need in a new language or new country.  Some of the projects I wrote grants for were small, some were very large, and some were confidential--I loved them all.  I traveled to learn about different parts of the ministry, I met with partners, or investors, in different countries to share about a new program, I met TWR directors who had traveled to our office from their homeland for the sole purpose of reaching their people for God.  

By my friends and family investing $5,000, I was able to write far past $1,000,000 in grants--all by the work God did through the skills He'd chosen to give me.  That means millions of more unreached people hearing about God when a new program is launched in a new language and listeners--who often only have TWR as a church--being fed more each week with extended programming.  Furthermore, that $5,000 was used to hook me into the ministry and serving in missions; here we are, two years later, trying to get back over there!

Why Slovakia?
Trans World Radio has office all over the world.  The organization is divided into five major sub-regions, such as TWR-Asia, TWR-Americas, etc.  The headquarters of TWR-Europe is located just outside of Vienna, Austria in an adorable town nicknamed P-Dorf.  An hour's train ride away is TWR's office in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.  The Public Relations Department of TWR-Europe is spread between these two offices.

Why is the Public Relations Department so important to TWR?
The production and broadcasting of radio programs cost money.  For TWR to produce in more languages, build satellites outside of closed countries, increase broadcast time, etc., fund development is required, and that's where the PR department comes in.  Each region of TWR has its own PR department, and Europe's is one of the largest.  

The PR Department is responsible for great projects like the short-film series, Epic Stories, which were filmed by traveling worldwide to tell individual stories of those whose lives have been changed by God's message heard through Trans World Radio.  

The Epic Story, Youth in the Middle East, tells about an Internet program that is encouraging the youth of a culture where, even in church, personal struggles are simply not discussed.  In this region, more than 50 percent of the population is under the age of 25, and the population as a whole is expected in double in the next two decades.  An entire generation is decided you they want to be, what they want to believe, and how they're going to impact their world.  After showing this video at our church, a woman came up and explained that her son was about to ship off to Iraq.  "I can't help but think," she said, "that, if these kids hear this message, they'll pick up a Bible instead of a gun."