NRB Strategic Partnerships Prayer Newsletter
It was one of those moments that sticks in your mind, that immediately seems significant, that carries more weight than words can express.
The Global Partners Training in Sofia, Bulgaria, had just gotten underway November 13th. Along with the opening night introductions, there was a Super Session dealing with the topic, “The Gospel in a Multi-Ethnic Culture.” We have learned through our years of working with ministries in several of the Balkan countries that each country is different in its ethnic makeup, history, and religious influence. So we had a panel from three different countries to respond to questions of the challenges of presenting the Gospel against the various backgrounds.
Lucian Despa of Radio Voice of the Gospel in Romania, Dr. Stoyko Petkov of Studio 865 in Bulgaria, and Erion Prendi of Radio 7 in Albania, served as our panel. I had the role of moderating the discussion. Each of the panelists is part of effective and growing media ministries, and each has a clear understanding of what it is like to be a very small minority as an evangelical Christian in their country.
After some general background questions on the differences between their countries, and the challenges they face as Christian broadcasters, I asked the question that had been burning in my heart. You see, I know these people understand persecution and intimidation far better than we westerners do. Each lived under Communism. Albania had been the only officially atheistic country in the world, cut off for almost 50 years. Romania had been dominated by the brutal and repressive regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. And Dr. Petkov of Bulgaria had family members who were imprisoned because they preached the Gospel during the Communist days.
So I asked the question. Hebrews 10:39 says, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” What if the oppression comes again? What if persecution grows, and intimidation increases? What if people once again are imprisoned for preaching the Gospel? What happens to your broadcast ministry?
I was anticipating a pause…contemplation from the panelists. But the responses came quickly. Lucian Despa spoke first, harkening back to the days of Martin Luther, who used all means to proclaim God’s Truth in the face of religious persecution. Stoyko Petkov of Bulgaria, when asked if he would stand strong in the face of opposition to the Gospel, said with quiet confidence, “That decision has already been made. It is settled. We preach the Gospel.” All on the panel agreed. They won’t “shrink back.”
It is one thing for an American to theorize what we would do if persecution ever came for broadcasting the Truth of God’s Word. It is quite another for those who have lived under some of the harshest Communist conditions, who have seen and known those, including family members, who have paid a high price for their faith in Christ.
Settled. We preach the Gospel.
Such people of deep faith humble me. Some Christian broadcasters in these countries are already experiencing the pressure from those of other faiths, including physical harm and intimidation. I am honored to serve with them as they impact their culture, their country, their region for Christ and His Kingdom.
Ministry Updates/Prayer Opportunities
Balkans - Global Partners Training
Moody Broadcasting in Chicago, Illinois, took the leadership role for the media training conference held in Sofia, Bulgaria, last month. We were blessed with 115 attendees from eight countries throughout Eastern Europe and Israel. Added to that were 11 instructors from the U.S., from Moody, In Touch Ministries, and NRB. Four days of workshops, worship, networking, fellowship...and even some sightseeing...was a great experience for all.
A successful time of training had been held in the Balkans two years ago. Some wondered if this year's experience would measure up. Lucian Despa, of Radio Voice of the Gospel, responded, "...all expectations in professionalism and fellowship were met and exceeded."
Enkelejda Kumaraku of Radio 7 gave thanks for the conference.
"My team of 39 people was very encouraged, learned new skills and enjoyed a time of fellowship with other media professionals from the Balkans. Everyone came back home, full of appreciation for the teachers and full of ideas how to better serve the Kingdom of God in our part of the world."
Enkelejda, who served on the leadership team, went on to explain why the conference is so valuable.
"Serving Jesus in a country where you are a small minority and are considered a betrayer of the religion of your forefather it is not easy. The challenges are difficult to predict and sometimes hard to endure. However, not when you know you have a family, you can rely on. This is what I loved the most about this time in Sofia, the great experience of "being one family" in Christ. Thank you to everyone who supported this conference."
Bulgaria – Studio 865
Dr. Stoyko Petkov leads this outstanding ministry that received an NRB International Award at the 2012 NRB Convention. The desire of Studio 865 is to continue using traditional media for the spread of the Gospel while also utilizing new technologies to reach a new generation with God’s Truth.
Pray for new opportunities for Studio 865 to partner with US ministries to extend their reach throughout Bulgaria and that region of the world.
Albania – Radio 7
Enkelejda Kumaraku continues to give great direction to this growing broadcast ministry with influence in both Albania and in Kosovo, and wherever Albanian-speaking people are living. The recent addition of Radio 7 Nord in the northern part of Albania is now touching lives in that region that have not had a strong evangelical influence in the past. Pray for the Radio 7 staff as they establish this new voice in Shkodra and the northwest region of Albania.
Radio 7 Kosovo has had challenges in recent months that have necessitated the relocation of its studios. Operating a Christian radio presence in an almost totally Muslim country can lead to concerns for the ongoing work and even for the safety of its staff. Pray for wisdom for the Radio 7 staff, for God’s protection, and for the continued opportunity to place the claims of Christ on the air alongside other faith beliefs. God’s Word will impact lives where it is heard.
Albania – Radio Emanuel continues to grow in influence and ministry in the southern part of Albania. Their location allows them to easily reach into Macedonia and Greece, and they present Christian programming in those languages, as well as in Albanian. Radio Emanuel is programming to reach a wide variety of people, including children and youth. Pray for their staff as they produce original programming that touches these young lives, and that they would come to know Christ as Lord.
Also pray for Radio Emanuel’s need for a larger broadcast facility. More studios and offices are needed to produce programs for the different age and language groups. Pray for Tani and Efti Baraku as this husband and wife team lead their staff to touch lives that are not as open to the Gospel as they once were.
France – Radio Gospel
Paul Harrigan continues to work towards a broadcast license for Christian programming in Paris, France. This has been known to be a very difficult thing to accomplish due to great competition and the political connections often needed to secure a frequency. However, the ministry is still working for that, and in the meantime is strengthening its online radio presence. In addition, it is working to help establish house churches among the unchurched people of this part of France.
Romania – Radio Voice of the Gospel (RVE)
This ministry has nine stations across Romania, and has been faithfully broadcasting the Gospel for many years. Lucian Despa directs a great ministry team of dedicated Christian broadcast professionals at these stations. Lucian and I have met with high government leaders on several occasions. Our last visit with key leaders of the Romanian senate, including the Vice President, was to talk about the need for RVE to have a full of the frequency assigned to their stations, instead of having to share time on the frequency with secular broadcasters. We continue to pray for that.
As an answer to prayer and by God’s grace, another one of the RVE stations has now gone 24/7 with their Christian programming. We rejoice with them, and pray for wisdom and direction for this station as they fill out the broadcast day with programming that reaches the listener’s heart and draws them to the Savior.
Russia – Association of Christian Broadcasters, Russia
Over 10 years ago I was in Moscow to attend the formative meeting of this association, under the leadership of Hannu Haukka of Finland. Dr. Haukka has ministered in Russia for almost 40 years, and has been a great influence on Christian broadcasters in the former Soviet Union.
In January, I will meet once again with this group of dedicated broadcast professionals. Dr. Frank Wright, NRB President and CEO, along with other NRB members, will be there to support and encourage these Christian communicators in a place where it is becoming increasingly difficult to be an evangelical follower of Christ. Pray for these servants, for the Lord’s favor as they use media tools to tell the people of Russia and the former Soviet countries of God’s great love.
Also on the trip will be Ed Cannon, the President of Far East Broadcasting, and FEBC board member, Wayne Shepherd. We will have an opportunity to visit one of FEBC’s partner stations in Moscow. Far East Broadcasting is impacting lives in the four corners of the world, serving in over 50 countries, utilizing 130 languages to tell of the hope found only in Jesus. Pray for FEBC as they reach into hard places with the saving message of God’s love through His Son, Jesus.
Continue to pray for other broadcast ministries in Sweden, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, Bolivia, and many countries in Africa. We often connect with ministries in these countries to let them know of the prayers of support from people like you. I know your prayers are effective and appreciated.
We continue to look to the Lord for His direction of our international ministry steps. Your prayers for us are key to what is accomplished. Financial support is needed so that we might continue to encourage, train, mentor, and strengthen the work of Christian broadcasters around the world.
The end of the year is coming, and with it likely changes in the charitable giving laws. If the Lord leads, and if you would like to give to support this work, I would most grateful. Checks can be made out to NRB, with “Strategic Partnership” on the memo line. They can be mailed to:
9510 Technology Drive
Manassas, VA 20110
And…at least through the end of the year, these gifts are tax-deductible.
Ronald L. Harris, DD
Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships
National Religious Broadcasters
703-330-7000 (NRB HQ)
NRB / 9510 Technology Drive / Manassas, VA / 20110