Ten-year radio broadcast veteran and NRB award winner, Pawa Warena passed away on December 12, 2011. He was a founding member of the original team that launched Papua New Guinea’s first Christian radio network, Wantok Radio Light, which began broadcasting in January 2001. Quickly growing into a network of 12 FM radio stations and a shortwave station, the network was designed to blanket the entire island nation of six million.
NRB has been associated with Wantok Radio Light since 2007, when it received the NRB International Station of the Year Award. That same year, a generous offering taken at NRB’s annual Convention & Exposition allowed a sister FM station in Buka to be constructed and begin broadcasting. Dr. Frank Wright, NRB President & CEO, and Dr. Ron Harris, NRB Sr. Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, travelled to Buka, New Guinea, for the ceremony, dedication, and launching of that station.
Wantok Radio Light network’s U.S.-based partners include HCJB Global, EBM International, and Life Radio Ministries. Last September, HCJB Global featured Wantok Radio Light and the fact that it was receiving 15,000 text messages every month, indicating high levels of listener response. “We are asking God to increase the number of souls being saved from three to five a day to 10 every day,” Warena told HCJB Global at the time. “God is faithful but we also need to increase the number of stations so that many more can be saved.”
Just prior to Mr. Warena’s death, the Wantok Radio Light network concluded its 10th Anniversary Sharathon – where 900,000 kina ($423,000) was committed – and the government of Papua New Guinea awarded the network four million kina ($1.88 million) to expand its network and add 60 FM repeaters across the island. These important investments will, indeed, increase the number of souls being saved. Pawa Warena is with his Lord, but his urgent desire for Christian radio to impact the lost in New Guinea, continues.
“[Pawa Warena’s] leadership for the past decade has positioned your important broadcast ministry among the most effective in the world,” said Dr. Wright to Wantok Radio Light upon learning of Warena’s passing. He also noted that the abundant blessings stemming from the Sharathon and the government grant are “a fitting tribute to a life of leadership and commitment by Pawa Warena.”
"Pawa Warena served the Lord with vision and dedication,” added Dr. Harris. “The vision to see how Christian radio could impact his country...and the dedication to see that vision become reality. His warm spirit and engaging smile reflected the presence of Christ in his life. Though he will be greatly missed, Pawa has left a powerful legacy through Wantok Radio Light."
PHOTO ABOVE: NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright (left) stands with Pawa Warena at the NRB 2007 Convention & Exposition, after Warena received the NRB International Station of the Year Award on behalf of Wantok Radio Light.