HCJB World Radio celebrates 75 years with 'transformational' goals

by Dawn-Marie Wilson |


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Anniversaries are opportunities to reminisce, but an international radio ministry chose to celebrate its 75th anniversary with forward-thinking goals—and not just for media outreach.

Dick Jacquin, HCJB's vice president of support ministries, said HCJB World Radio, an acronym for Heralding Christ Jesus' Blessings, considers 2006 a transitional year.

"We're not just looking at the past. We're looking to the future, and asking God to guide us so that we can continue to be fruitful for Him," Jacquin said. "We're making changes to continue to be relevant."

HCJB has three transformational goals that echo the organization's mission: training nationals for ministry, developing a synergy of health care and mass media, and radio planting and media development worldwide. The far-reaching vision is built around a hub station in Ecuador.

Founder Clarence Jones aired the first HCJB broadcast in Quito, Ecuador, on Christmas Day, 1931. The shortwave station has grown to a multi-studio compound with a 110-acre antenna center of towers, wires and high-powered transmitters.

Coordinated by its international headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., the mission operates in Latin America, Euro-Asia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Broadcasts air in more than 120 languages.

"The mission includes about 1,100 staff members worldwide," said Jon Hirst, HCJB director of communications. "Half are missionaries and half are paid staff, plus there is a huge cadre of volunteers."

Original shortwave radio broadcasts were beamed behind the Iron Curtain and other closed-door areas from HCJB facilities high in the Andes Mountains, but now doors are open for local permits and licenses in many of these countries.

"There are two strategies we could take," Jacquin said. "The first is to buy permits and licenses in our own name. The second is radio planting. We prefer the second, because our philosophy of ministry is to equip and empower locals."


Radio planting
HCJB has more than 300 radio plants worldwide. The radio planting model allows HCJB to come alongside local believers who have a heart to use radio in their unique communities.

"Radio planting is not something we planned and strategized over," Johnson said. "We were never clever enough to see that we should do that. It was an open door God presented. And He pushed us through it!"

Believers around the world contacted HCJB, asking for help to begin their own stations. HCJB's Engineering Center in Elkhart, Ind., developed a portable FM transmitter that is powerful enough to reach an entire city, yet small enough to fit into a suitcase.

Radio plants often grow up in affiliation to churches, but in other cases, churches are established as a direct result of the radio plants.

Phenomenal stories have surfaced as a result of these radio plants. Prostitutes in South Africa, criminals in Estonia's largest prison, and even a witchdoctor in Haiti have been changed by the messages broadcast from these stations.


Media-medical partnership
HCJB World Radio ministries encompass much more than a radio station.

"God is dynamically using media and health care together," Hirst, the communications director, said. "We are declaring and demonstrating Jesus Christ with hands and voice together, impacting communities in ways that one or the other could not do alone."

The synergism of radio and medical services began with Hospital Vozandes-Quito, a 76-bed urban general hospital opened in 1955 that now serves as Quito's trauma center.

Beside the Quito missionary hospital—which is a recognized teaching site with a full range of emergency, outpatient and inpatient hospitalization care—HCJB operates a second hospital, various community clinics and mobile clinics.

An outgrowth of the hospitals is disaster relief by sending national Ecuadorians to Congo, to help victims of earthquakes in Indonesia and Pakistan, and volcanoes in Ecuador.

Jacquin said the goal is to give the nationals a "missional mindset," following the 2 Timothy 2:2 model of encouraging nationals to teach and minister to others, as they are served and taught.

Normally, radio partners who contact HCJB want to bring in health care to combine with their stations' outreaches, but sometimes the media-medical partnership moves in reverse.

"We have a partner in Congo who started a small hospital," Jacquin said. "Now they want to reach their community by radio, to help with their health care issues.

Hirst described a radio plant in a Muslim area in Africa where roving United Nations trucks offer immunizations.

"There is no way for (U.N. personnel) to tell the people where the truck is, but with radio, our radio partners can tell them," he said.

"The local (Muslim) Imam even came and thanked them. There is great relevancy."


Training and technology
Dave Johnson, president of HCJB, said their work coincides with the work of Christ, where "Christ is calling people to Himself all over the world."

"Our delight is to come in and help people with training—to help set up equipment—but our goal is not to make them ours. Our goal is to launch them in their own ministries. They're self-sustaining."

HCJB developed a mobilization center in Ecuador in the hopes of seeing nationals develop a kingdom mindset. The center offers training in mass media, health care and leadership development.

Changing technology gives HCJB new avenues of ministry, both in training and evangelization. HCJB's Engineering Center developed SonSet fix-tuned radios that enable people in remote villages to hear Christian broadcasts in their own languages. More than 23,300 of the solar-powered radios have been distributed since 2001.

HCJB now offers full-time webcasting with live streaming in multiple languages. Podcasts—subscribing to radio programs and having them delivered to personal computers—arrive from Australia, Latin America and the United States. Daily online news updates deal with missions and Christianity.

"We definitely need prayer," Jacquin said. "We are working against the clock and want to pick up the pace. We have a wide door open to us, and the time to be fruitful is right now!"

Johnson likened the work to a quote by British author C.S. Lewis, who said, "Our task is to take an unchanging message and put it in the language of the day."

"The technology may change," Johnson said, "but the message of hope never changes," Johnson said.

For more information about HCJB World Radio, visit hcjb.org or call the Colorado office, (719) 590-9800.