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Caribbean radio network sends gospel ahead of missionaries

BONAIRE, Netherland Antilles (BP)–It took an entire day to get to the village in the mountains of Venezuela. The missionary, scouting out areas to begin new work, was surprised to find an evangelical church already functioning and active in the community.
The missionary asked who told them about Christ and started a church. “No one. We learned from that,” a villager said, pointing to a radio.
International Mission Board missionaries Bob and Joanna Bernhardt hear countless stories about how God has used Christian radio programs to break ground in remote areas or penetrate hearts that once were hardened.
“Radio has the reputation as being the most personal of the mass media,” Bernhardt said. “Research has shown that radio is very good at sowing seeds in the hearts of nonbelievers and is an excellent teaching tool for believers.”
The couple works in cooperation with a Great Commission partner — Trans World Radio, Bonaire — to bring Christian programming to the Caribbean region. The Caribbean Gospel Network emphasizes Caribbean gospel music and programs originating from within the region.
This is the first Caribbean-wide full-service radio network. It not only features local pastors and Bible instructors, but also a news segment targeted exclusively for the Caribbean.
“News programming is what is helping us to draw a non-Christian audience,” Bernhardt said. “Most Christian stations can’t afford the high cost of a news service, so we are a good solution. The news service not only airs regional and national news, but has a Christian editorial perspective.”
Traditionally, many Caribbean radio stations are inundated with news and programming from North America that do not address issues in the Caribbean. CGN allows people of the region to hear their own music for the first time. Bernhadt feels culturally relevant and biblically sound programming is the best way to reach the 6.2 million English-speaking people in the Caribbean.
Gerry Seale, general secretary for the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean, is pleased with CGN’s commitment to bring Bible training to the region.
“We can now be connected to the finest Caribbean Bible teachers and hear our own people, with our own idioms, share with us from our experience the principles of God’s word,” Seale said. “We can now worship God from within our culture, not having to put on the culture of someone else.”
Stations currently connecting to CGN are located in Belize, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Bonaire.
Bringing the gospel to the region takes a combined effort. Bernhardt said many seeds may be planted by the CGN programs, but one main ingredient to success is following up with people who have contacted the network.
One of the best examples of how the IMB and TWR are working together happened in Aruba, where a prisoner listened to CGN and was convicted of his sin. The follow-up department in Bonaire contacted an IMB missionary in Aruba to visit the man.
“The prisoner has now professed faith in Christ as a result of this team effort,” Bernhardt said. “In Venezuela, the same things are happening. Missionaries have told me that believers saved via listening to our Spanish-language broadcasts established churches.
“It’s amazing what God is accomplishing through a small Christian radio network.”