The first test broadcasts from a new shortwave station that covers Papua New Guinea with Christian broadcasts went on the air Friday, May 20, through a partnership involving Atlanta-based Life Radio Ministries, Inc., EBM International of Summerfield, Fla., HCJB World Radio and local believers.
According to HCJB World Radio, the milestone culminates three years of planning as the partners established the nation's first Christian Broadcasting Network with a single FM station in the capital city of Port Moresby in January 2002. It was recently rated as the city's leading radio station.
"At 3:43 p.m. May 20 the first test programming from the shortwave station at Wantok Radio Light in Port Moresby was beamed to the nation of Papua New Guinea on 7120 kHz," said HCJB World Radio engineer Curt Bender of Elkhart, Ind., in an e-mail report. "This initial broadcast was heard by an enthusiastic crowd of men and boys who had helped us build the station and get it operational. The programs aired for about 20 minutes, and then we patched in a station identification, telling listeners in Papua New Guinea about the station."
After three hours of inspection and testing, communication officials in Papua New Guinea approved the shortwave installation. Although one test remains, Wantok Radio Light has been granted approval to continue with regular broadcasts.
"Praise God for this approval," said Bender who worked with Mike Axman and Don Hastings of the HCJB World Radio Engineering Center in Elkhart along with seconded missionaries David and Patti Olson to install the shortwave station. A live nationwide broadcast to dedicate both the shortwave station and the FM network is set for Saturday, June 11.
"We have been deeply impressed with the sincere desire of the Christians in Papua New Guinea to see Wantok Radio Light grow and be used of God to reach the lost for Christ," Bender said. "Many people have sacrificed much to make this happen, both in Papua New Guinea and in the United States. Many prayers have been lifted up for the success of this project, and now it is at hand."
According to HCJB World Radio, the 1,000-watt shortwave station will make the signal available to the nation's entire population of nearly 5 million. Music and Bible teaching programs will air in English (the official language) and in Pidgin.
Life Radio Ministries President Joe Emert said the Christian broadcasts have plenty of local support. "At a recent radio-sponsored luncheon for pastors in Port Moresby I was told by our leadership there that such a mixed group of evangelical pastors rarely came together for fellowship prior to the birth of the FM station," he stated. "Now many churches and pastors are working together to bring Christian radio to all of Papua New Guinea. They gather almost daily for prayer at the radio station studios. I look for that same spirit of revival nationwide as the shortwave is launched.
"The station is also having an impact for Christ at the highest levels of government with financial support coming from the Prime Minister, the deputy prime minister and a number of parliament members," Emert continued.
In early June, Emert and Doug Doran of Life Radio Ministries will assist Olson with the installation of four additional FM repeaters in the cities of Ialibu, Goroka, Lae and Rabaul. The national license issued by the Papua New Guinea government approves up to 30 repeaters.
The shortwave broadcasts will originate from the same location in the highlands where, 50 years ago, a missionary school and church was established by veteran missionary G.T. Bustin, founder of EBM International and Christian radio station 4VEH in Haiti. For more information, visit www.missionaryradio.info.