Interview: HCJB World Radio VP on 75 Years of Obstacles, Successes

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Correction appended

Curt Cole is the vice president of international ministries HCJB world radio, the world’s oldest international mission broadcasting agency. He spoke to The Christian Post on Oct. 13 about the challenges and successes of 75 years of broadcasting the Gospel message around the world.

CP: Why is HCJB’s involvement with planting over 300 radio stations significant?

Cole: I think the true significance of that is not the number itself, but the fact that it happened without HCJB’s name on it for the most part. We often talked about if we had decided on the strategy to try to own every radio planting partnership that we wanted to develop, we would probably only have about 15-20 [stations] and that would have been it. So the significance of that is we have been able to reproduce ministry in a much more powerful way because we chose a strategy that empowers the local church that has the vision for radio to do it themselves.

The number 300 in my mind is not nearly as important as the idea that there are many more partners out there that are able to do radio because of the radio planting strategy that God gave us.

CP: I read that some of HCJB partners are facing some obstacles in Russia. Can you give us an update on their situation?

Cole: Some of the main issues is with a partner that has a satellite system that we were working with – New Life radio. The issue is basically whoever is in charge of the space segment, allocation, and rules in Russia forced them off the satellite delivery system. They had to switch satellites and unfortunately this happened very quickly and there was not a lot of time to be able to give a lot of advance warning. But from my understanding, today they are able to get on another satellite delivery system which is actually better overall and probably able to provide a bit better coverage than before and they are back on the air with that. That is the challenge they have gone through recently, but God seemed to have worked through that in a very cool way.

CP: What are some of the new obstacles HCJB faces?

Cole: There are always obstacles. The reality is everyday we battle because it is a battle in a world where there are people and entities that don’t want us to do what we do so there are constant obstacles. Some of the biggest ones that are probably out there today in front of us is a quickly changing political situation in different parts of the world. But those are the same obstacles we faced in the past, so those are not necessarily new ones but they continue to be major ones.

For example, two years ago we had to close our office in West Africa because of political turmoil there and civil war in the country where we were at. But we were able to change offices fairly quickly and move to the neighboring country of Ghana. But those kinds of obstacles are constant. Probably at some point everyday there is news of our partners that we are involved with or where our offices are where political agendas or different things [occur]. That is probably the biggest obstacle in front of us. We need to be mobile enough to respond to changing political situations in different countries and react accordingly and quickly.

CP: Does HCJB have any stations in the Middle East?

Cole: No, we don’t. We are doing some things in the Middle East but we are not able to talk about those publicly.

CP: Does HCJB work with SAT-7 ?

Cole: No. We are familiar with them but we are not directly working with them.

CP: What are some of the strategic partnerships of HCJB?

Cole: We partnered with Samaritan’s purse for example along with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) when we worked in Pakistan and also in Indonesia with some relief work and emergency medical response.

A lot of our radio planting strategy has been through a partnership with Trans World Radio, FEBC (Far Eastern Broadcasting Company), and SIM (Serving in Mission). Those are probably the main major partners we worked with from the radio side.

CP: Is there anything you would like to add?

Cole: What I like to tell people when I’m asked where is HCJB going in the future is for 75 years we have been involved in doing ministry directly ourselves. We have been involved in the creation of technical parts and equipments; we have been involved in actual broadcast strategy; and we have actually done healthcare on the grounds in Ecuador and it has been highly effective.

But as we look to the future we really see that changing from a doing mode to an enabling mode – and that is a key future for us because we really believe that the enabling mode filters down to training and empowering local groups to do the ministry.

So while we will continue to broadcast and be involved in healthcare, we will do that primarily because we want to focus on developing local leadership and churches that have the same vision as we do for healthcare and radio.

That is a pretty major philosophical switch for us because we believe many churches in the world are ready for this type of ministry and are ready to do that on their own.

Correction: Tuesday, October 24, 2006:

An article on Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, about HCJB World Radio’s past works and future plans incorrectly reported the name of one of HCJB’s strategic partners as FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences). The Christian Post confirmed with HCJB on Tuesday that it partners with FEBC (Far Eastern Broadcasting Company).