A Short Guide to TWR’s Ministry in the MIDDLE EAST

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Place Where the Sun Rises

1. Reciting the Creed: “There is no God but Allah” and “Muhammad is his prophet” 2. Praying five times a day 3. Alms-giving to the poor 4. Fasting (especially during the month of Ramadan) 5. Making the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia

The Five Pillars of Islam

Middle Eastern History and Culture T
he Middle East1 has a total population of nearly 260 million people who speak more than 95 languages and dialects, 23 of which are each spoken by at least 500,000 people in the region. With the exceptions of Israel and Turkey, the Middle East is dominated by people groups who speak multiple varieties of Arabic dialects, though one must not assume common cultural, religious, or political views simply on the basis of linguistic similarity. Because of its location astride important trade routes, the region has been one of the most fought-over, occupied, and politically unstable regions in all of history. The most recent conflict in the area concerns the region’s access to nearly two-thirds of the world’s operational oil reserves. The multiplicity of dialects spoken in the Middle East reflects its ethnic diversity. Despite this turmoil, TWR is working to bring the Gospel, and hope is on the horizon—literally. The Mashriq (Arabic: also transcribed Mashreq or Mashrek) is the region of Arab countries to the east of Egypt and to the north of the Arabian Peninsula. This term essentially means “east,” or, in more poetic terms, “place of sunrise.” Indeed, God has a tender affection and bright future in mind for the people of the Middle East.
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“It is estimated that nine out of ten Muslims in the Middle East do not know any Christians.”

Islamic Faith

In the countries considered in this publication, there are more than 200 million Muslims, bringing the percentage of the Muslim population to 93 percent.2 It is estimated that nine out of ten Muslims in the Middle East do not know any Christians. According to the Islamic faith, Mohammed began to receive revelations and instructions from the archangel Gabriel at the age of 40 in the year 610 AD. These revelations form the basis of the Quran. Jewish and Christian history and practices are present in the Quran, although they are often distorted. Muslims believe in Allah, and that he is unique, all powerful, and merciful to all Muslims. The Islamic faith is lived out according to Five Pillars that must be adhered to, if one is to hope for salvation. Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims (also known as Shiites) comprise the two main sects within Islam. Sunni and Shia identities were first formed around a dispute over leadership succession in 632 AD. In time, the divide broadened to theological distinctions and differences in religious practices.

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In this publication we will consider TWR’s ministry in the following countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, State of Palestine (http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/), Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. 2 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Mapping the Global Muslim Population, October 2009

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Shame Culture

Arab culture uses shame and the threat of ostracism to maintain social harmony. Because of this, people are shy and not comfortable sharing their personal feelings and problems. As a result, many people from Arab cultures struggle silently, and isolation takes a spiritual toll.

Economic Factors

The most significant economic factors in the region can be summed up in two words: water and petroleum. Sixty-five percent of the world’s known oil reserves lie beneath the Middle East. However, the most critical resource is water, which has contributed to past conflicts and may one day start others. Along with the few regional water agreements and the growing threat of pollution, the most fundamental problem is scant and undependable rainfall. Without oil, the Middle East cannot live well; without water it cannot live at all.3 In the coming two decades, world oil consumption is expected to increase by more than 60 percent. The Middle East (including Iran) holds a place of critical importance and influence due to its dominance of proven reserves.
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Middle East Natural Resources - National Geographic Society, 2004

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Women in the Arab World
In the Islamic faith, femaleness suggests disability and inequality. According to the Quran, a woman’s legal testimony is worth one-half that of a man’s, and her share of inheritances are usually fixed at one-half of the corresponding male share. In addition, it is legal for a man to marry up to four wives and divorce his wives without cause and with little penalty; in these cases, the children’s custody is to the father and his family. The following statistics show the status of women in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region:

Honor Killing
Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by individuals within her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life. 4

The Hijab comprises social and spiritual dimensions. Women are responsible for the honor of not only her family but of the entire community.

Christian Faith C

hristianity’s roots, both physically and spiritually, lie in the Middle East. In much of today’s Middle East, however, Christianity is little more than a forgotten heirloom. Where once there were thriving churches and Christian communities, there are now struggling enclaves representing nearly every spectrum of ancient and modern Christianity. Despite the apparent richness of Christianity’s heritage in the Middle East, the outlook for the church is not bright.4

Jihad, or “exerted effort or struggle,” is a term that refers to a broad range of activities, including an inner struggle, to become a better person. This loaded term illustrates the deep gulf of miscommunication between the Islamic and Western worlds.

Hostility to Christians and Other Minorities

Unlike some democratic societies in which minority groups enjoy fair treatment from the majority, the Middle East presents many challenges to practicing Christians and other minorities. Muslims dominate the social and political environments and scorn, if not actively persecute, the religious minorities. Opportunities in education, employment, and business are tilted toward the majority and away from the minority. In times of political and economic misfortune, those of the majority feel free to attack, plunder, and kill those of the minority out of hatred and revenge. Even the clergy of the majority preaches hatred for the minority and issues religious decrees urging its followers to wage war against them. Men of the majority regard the women of the minority as shameless and frequently molest them. Ignorance, superstition, corruption, abuse, denigration of women, oppression, and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities are the norms, not the exceptions.

The Absence of Christian Influence

It is easy to see the dangers and risks that Christians in Middle Eastern societies face and understand why they seek to emigrate.5 Since the aftermath of World War I, and particularly in the last decade, emigration by Christian groups from the Middle East has significantly reduced the Christian population. In 1990, there were between 1.2 and 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. Today, it is estimated that less than 500,000 Christians remain.

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William Damick – The Middle East, A Regional Overview, TWR, June 2004 R.L. Schwind – Christian Flight from the Middle East - 2004

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The Arab Winter
During the last two years, a series of protests, demonstrations, and political changes have swept through the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Because of these events’ perceived symbols of rebirth, growth, and hope for the future, they have come to be known as the “Arab Spring.” However, despite the glorious visions of spring as perpetuated by the media, the Arab Spring has resulted in a very different reality for the Arab world. Tensions are not at ease, and the reality of flames, anger, and frustration persists. Instead of new life, it appears that “Arab Spring” has turned into a cold Arab Winter of persecution of Christians. The Arab Winter has resulted in persecution of Christians and others including denied freedoms, kidnappings, bombings, killings, and forced conversions. Many Iraqi, Egyptian, and Syrian Christians are being forced to flee their countries. With the current events and the vague future ahead, an important question comes to mind. If “secular media” was used to change the face of the Arab world, how much more can “Christian media” be used to enact positive change and grant lasting freedom to the Arab people? (From the notebook of TWR’s Arabic Ministries Director)

Listener Story: An Abundant Life for a Weary Soul
Life was unkind to Tareq, a poor Sudanese man. However, by the Lord’s calculations He would soon become Tareq’s Life.

The radio became Tareq’s soul mate. He began listening to local programs at every opportunity. One morning, he stumbled across Radio Monte Carlo and listened to TWR’s Arabic broadcast. He’d never heard a Christian message. Although his instinct was to denounce the program, his eagerness to hear more about Jesus surprised him. He secretly listened to TWR and wondered, “Is Jesus Christ God?” Questions haunted him but he dare not inquire, fearing the consequences. Suppose a family member discovered his correspondence, they would instantly kill him! One day, he couldn’t bear it anymore and decided to write TWR regardless of the outcome. The follow-up team answered all his questions by mail. Miraculously, Tareq communicated with TWR without anyone’s knowledge. He believed that God protected him so he would know the Truth he sought. After months of listening to TWR, Tareq surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, confessing that He is the Son of God. He continued listening to TWR as his only source for spiritual growth. Soon he began telling his friends about the station and many hearts opened to receive God’s Word. Today, Tareq shares the Good News with fellow Sudanese despite the danger and persecution. His resources are the Bible and TWR. He says, “Many years ago I was stumbling in doubt and fear, but the Lord saw my physical and spiritual pain and He ran to the rescue. He sent me a small old device, which was my life-changing tool, and He sent brothers and sisters whom I could trust and communicate with. I’m forever grateful to the grace of God that works in mysterious ways. Who would believe that a radio, brought from the land of darkness, would bring Light and Hope to needy souls? It’s true that life has not granted me a generous worldly package but Jesus Christ has come to give me His life and to give it abundantly. Indeed, God changed my ashes into beauty and my mourning into dancing!”

Tareq grew up in a pious non-Christian family. Spoon-fed religious beliefs and forced to practice them from a young age, he had no idea what they meant. Just like many others, he had no alternative. At 15, life surprised Tareq with an unexpected gift. During a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, his uncle bought Tareq’s family a small radio as a gift from the “sacred land.” They never had such a luxurious item. 6

TWR’s Work in the Middle East D

espite the Arab world’s need for the Gospel, lack of religious freedom prevents open outreach. Moreover, upon declaring their faith, believers from a Muslim background become at risk of losing their lives. Hence, many are unable to study the Word of God freely or declare their Christian faith, a matter which hinders their spiritual growth.

In cooperation with other Christian organizations and churches, TWR broadcasts around 30 hours/week of Arab programs to the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf area via medium wave on two different outlets located outside the Arab world. The programs minister to a variety of audiences, including women and youth, to make Bible studies, evangelism, discipleship, and leadership training accessible to those who would not otherwise have access. Through TWR’s radio programs, many listeners have become effective evangelists, pastors, and church planters in the Middle East region.

The year 2012 was a milestone in the history of TWR Arabic Ministries. Along with continued engagement in mobile applications, landing pages, and mobile version websites, TWR launched the Arabic Internet Radio (AiR). Visit ArabicPrograms.org for more information.

TWR History in the Region

Reaching the Arab people with the Gospel in their own language has been of utmost importance to TWR since they began broadcasting from Monte Carlo in 1960. Paul Freed, the founder of TWR, attended school in Jerusalem while his parents ministered among the Arab people, and it was an encounter with an Arab boy that first kindled Freed’s passion to bring the Gospel to the Arab people. TWR established offices and a studio in Lebanon because of its relative neutrality, and the first radio broadcasts in Arabic began in 1961. In the mid 1970s, however, the relative tranquility in Lebanon erupted into civil war which led to the loss of the studio as armed men forced the staff to leave the offices. Amazingly enough, although this was the end of the studio, it was not the end of the radio programs. After the studio was shut down, TWR began to receive reports that Christians in Lebanon were still hearing the programs. How could this be? The political faction who had overtaken the offices did not have any programs of their own and had resorted to replaying the Christian programs still left over in the office. Though the studio had been seized, the Gospel could not be contained. People continued to hear the Good News uninterrupted and from the same radio station. After the loss of the studios in Lebanon, the Arabic ministry moved to Monte Carlo. At present, programs are again produced in three countries in the Arab world and heard in all Arab speaking countries, including North Africa. In the summer of 2013, in the midst of a civil war in Syria, TWR and partners started to broadcast daily live interactive programs aimed to bring Hope and Light and encourage people in this troubled land. twreurope.org 7

One TWR ministry leader in the region notes the paradox of physical and spiritual well-being: “If you are encouraging someone to make a decision for Christ, you are also encouraging him…to be rejected from his family, to lose [his] job and to be persecuted. In other words, you are preaching to put someone in trouble. Is the physical security of a person more important than his spiritual situation? But it is our conviction that the spiritual well-being is more important than the physical one, believing that God can and will provide for everything that is needed. This is of course easier said than lived!” 6
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Freed, Paul Towers to Eternity, p. 29

On Language and Production T

Lebanon. The goal of making programming available in the local dialects is to show care for the local community and to help address specific challenges listeners may be facing.

he fact that the Arabic language is spoken in 22 countries presents both a tremendous opportunity and challenge for TWR. It is a challenge in terms of the sheer size of the task, but it is also a great opportunity in that the common language thread between these 22 countries promises the ability to reach an even larger number of people with fewer resources involved. Whereas a single language is usually concentrated within only two to three countries, the vast stretch of the Arabic language promises the ability to more efficiently reach more people with the Gospel.

Classical Arabic is the language of the Quran and the official spoken language in all Arab countries. In other words, classical Arabic is used in all written materials (including official letters), whether in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, or Tunisia. By broadcasting foundational programs like Through the Bible (TTB) and Talmatha in classical Arabic, TWR can ensure that God’s Word remains pure and clear and is able to be delivered to the largest possible number of listeners. The rest of TWR’s Arabic programs, however, are produced by local believers for local believers in their specific dialects including Jordanian Arabic, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, and Moroccan, among others. TWR partners with churches and local believers to find opportunities for community members (especially women and youth) to get involved in the program production. Though people would be able to understand the programs in classical Arabic, the idea behind this strategy of engaging locals by making programming available in the regional dialect is to foster a sense of inclusion among listeners. TWR realizes the need to speak differently to an Egyptian woman than to a Jordanian woman, and to speak with a teenager in Tunisia differently than with one in

Interactive Programming

As Arab culture is a shame culture, many people do not feel comfortable sharing about their personal feelings and problems out of fear they will be rejected or ostracized. However, by keeping silent about their problems, the problems inevitably grow bigger and begin to impact the people’s lives in negative ways. TWR attempts to break the silence and bring people out of spiritual isolation by facilitating conversations where people can openly and honestly talk about difficult issues. For instance, in The Way Companion (one of the Oasis of Hope programs), TWR opens up the floor for young men to discuss challenges they go through that they might not learn about or get the chance to discuss at home or in church. Discussions take place in an honest and edifying manner and center around biblical truth. TWR’s goal is that through an open dialogue, people of all ages and backgrounds will begin to grapple with difficult questions, express their own thoughts, and find answers to their questions without shame.

Follow-up

The Arabic radio program ministry is like a church without a building. During each program, a phone number is given out and follow-up is made available 24/7. Once a person makes a call into the station, a return call is made over Skype to maintain security. The follow-up team is intimately aware of the needs of their listening audience and is prepared to interact appropriately and pray in specifics. The team also collects all the data from every interaction that has taken place and sends out appropriate discipleship material. In one survey, an Arabic station found out that its staff interacted with 1,000 different individuals per year. In this way, the radio programs have the ability to reach more people than even the combined efforts of all the churches in the area. 8

Key TWR Arabic Programs
• Ala’s Diary is a program created and produced for young adults by young adults that airs 52 episodes a year. The program tackles topics and issues that young people struggle with daily. It is also based on listeners’ responses and features special segments such as testimonies from young people whose lives have been changed when they met Christ. • The Oasis of Hope series consists of four programs produced for four distinct audiences in the Middle East. Each audience has its own special characteristics and needs, which also correspond with TWR’s Global Strategic Plan initiatives. Are You? helps Middle Eastern female listeners ˚ How understand holistic health issues from a biblical perspective.

Since health issues are not often discussed in Middle Eastern society, this program provides practical insight and opens the door for people to meet Jesus, the Great Healer.

Way Companion ˚ The opportunity to share

allows Arab young men the their thoughts and feelings about taboo subjects in an open, honest, and edifying environment. Counseling and biblical application are the cornerstones of this program.

For additional online resources, visit:
arabicprograms.org talmatha.com aladiary.com lakiraja.com rafeek.net • Women of Hope (WoH), an outreach of Project Hannah, is a 30-minute, friend-to-friend style program in Arabic, which delivers simple, yet challenging content. It addresses women’s life issues and offers health information and practical advice for daily living from a Christian perspective. “Soul issues” bring the listener information for Christian living, and address relationships – with God, others, and oneself. Project Hannah places a strong emphasis on prayerful support of this ministry by publishing a monthly prayer guide with information focusing on a particular people group, country, or issue. PH’s team also holds awareness meetings in churches, at women’s retreats, and conferences. • Youth in Mind is a 15 minutes/week Syrian youth program that was the first Christian radio program ever produced in Syria. It started 5 years ago by the initiative of a pastor in a local Syrian church in cooperation with TWR’s Arabic Department. The program belongs to and is operated by the local church and TWR helps in training young people and in fundraising for the program’s financial needs. Its production continued during the civil war in the country. twreurope.org 9 shababalbal.com lamsat.org twreurope.org (program schedule)

Touches provides support and encouragement ˚ Healing for young women who face the “hidden” pressures of

the Arab culture. The program exists to give them a forum so that they do not have to suffer in isolation.

Long for You reaches more than 55 percent of ˚ I the Middle East’s population who live in rural, oral communities. The program expresses God’s love in easy-to-understand terms and seeks to address the many challenges that rural and/or oral societies face.

• Talmatha, or “discipleship” in Arabic, is a 30-minute discipleship program that is aired in classical Arabic four days per week from three different transmitters that cover North Africa, the Middle East, and the Gulf area. Talmatha is accompanied by a full written manual to enable consistent discipleship through both small groups and private study. These study materials are also available for download off the Internet. Talmatha’s Arabic Web site, www.talmatha.org, engages users by receiving their feedback and providing them with recordings of the audio programs and written scripts. Material is also available in English on the Discipleship on the Air Web site: www.dota.net.

Listener Story: Discipleship by Radio M
What robbed my sleep at night was the fact that I never knew what my fate after death would be. It seemed that whatever good deeds I did, it was meaningless, as one remains absolutely unsure whether or not he is going to heaven. All I could say was, “Only God knows!” Therefore, I hoped for the mercy of Allah and that the Prophet would intercede for me in the last day, so I would be saved from hell. “Is this what life is all about…trying to please God and at the end you are surprised that you have not pleased him enough and you’ll end up in hell?!” “Is there no hope or no answer to man’s dilemma?” These and many other questions haunted me day and night. I tried to seek help from Muslim scholars, but they were as unsure and ignorant as I was! I needed God himself to reveal the truth for me! One day, as I was reading the Quran, trying hard to find answers for my doubts and fears, I came across a verse that spoke about the prophet Isa. Curiosity grew in me to know more about this man. I knew I could learn about Him through reading the Bible, but how could I have access to a Bible when I was living in the most closed and “anti-Bible” country? I tried hard to find a Bible, but it was useless; even the mention of its name in front of my scholars was demeaning, and I was advised never to mention my interest in Jesus Christ again. But God never leaves His chosen children. In His own timing and ways He intervenes and opens an unexpected door. One cold night, as I was striving to sleep, I cried out to God from the depth of my heart, in the midst of inner conflict, and said: “Lord, show me the truth! Is it Jesus or Muhammad? Could it be that you are my Father? Show me the truth, and the truth you lead me to I will serve all my life, whatever the cost may be!” God answered my prayer in a special and surprising way: through the radio! Radio? Yes, God revealed Himself and showed me the truth through the transmission of radio waves! As I was flipping the stations that night, in an attempt to sleep, I came across a radio station that would change my life forever. It was Trans World Radio which broadcasted Christian programs in the Arabic language. Night after night, I found myself waiting patiently for the time the broadcast would begin. It was amazing how the programs answered my inquiries and doubts…as if they knew my struggles and inner thoughts and they were directly answering me! 10

y name is Ali. I was born and raised in a conservative Muslim family in Saudi Arabia. Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been reading and studying the Quran on a daily basis and performing my Islamic duties such as fasting and praying. As years passed by, my knowledge in Islam increased. I was extremely religious, but I had no true relationship with the god I was worshipping. I always felt that there was a barrier separating me from God. I felt that there was a great void within me, filling me completely for I worshipped God on the outside only. But on the inside, I was a slave to many bad habits and lusts. That’s why I tried to reach God by performing those duties such as prayer and fasting.

For the first time in my life, I began asking the question “why?” and challenged everything I took for granted. This would get me into trouble in an authoritarian and fanatical society. Questions and doubts, they say, fly in the face of Allah. Obey. That is all. But I knew that I couldn’t just obey. Obey who…and what? Therefore, I corresponded with TWR’s Arabic team for several months, and they faithfully replied to all of my letters and messages. I was humbled by their profound knowledge of the Bible and the Christian faith. I started to know Jesus Christ and Christianity from a new perspective.

I found in Jesus’ sacrifice the solution to the problem of sin in my life. For in His crucifixion is the atonement for all my sins. I decided to seek Him and His precious blood for shelter because He is the one who died instead of me and shed His holy blood for me! I couldn’t achieve salvation on my own, so I decided to submit my life to Him. I asked the Lord to forgive me of my transgressions and I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

TWR’s broadcasts did not only lead me to salvation but its team helped me grow in my relationship with God by constantly sending me discipleship lessons through emails. These were like bread to my hungry soul! Consequently, I got baptized secretly and now my passion and goal is to live for Jesus Christ and to tell my fellow friends and lost people that Jesus is the Light, the Way, and the Truth. Who would ever have thought that in a country like Saudi Arabia, where neither a Bible nor a church is an option, a Christian radio station would penetrate the walls of a dark country and be the Bible and the Church to the thirsty and hungry souls! twreurope.org 11

Interview with the Director of TWR Arabic Ministries
In 2011 TWR celebrated 50 years of Arabic broadcasts. How do you see it today? I have been with TWR for 15 years now, and during these many years there was not one day that we did not air at least one program. I could tell you story after story of God’s wonderful provision for this important ministry. It is truly God’s ministry and we are privileged to be part of what He is doing in this region! It is this conviction and His provision over these last 50 years that gives us the strength to step out in faith again and face the new challenges ahead of us. often fools us. Only the Holy Spirit can bring forth fruit, fruit in the form of changed hearts and lives! This is why it is so important to be involved in the right thing at the right time. We are not working to succeed but to help produce lasting fruits in people’s hearts. What are the challenges of ministry in this part of the world? To bring about change in the hearts of the Arab people, you need time, patience, and a long term commitment. We are not marketing a message or selling Jesus—we are no salesmen. Ministry is calling people one by one and staying focused, like Jesus did. Culture and religion are very much intertwined in the Arab world. For many decades (and even today), missions have preached that Arab people have to leave their culture and change their identity to accept Jesus as their Savior. We do not preach culture, we preach faith. I believe that God wants to start the church in the communities as they are.

“We do not preach culture, we preach faith.”

What are some of the factors that helped the ministry thrive? One big advantage of TWR’s Arabic department is that we exist in the heart of the region. We know the people; we breathe the same air and drink the same water. This gives us credibility, free access to the community, and the opportunity to conduct ministry according to the local needs. Another factor is the mindset behind the ministry that we are doing. There is a difference between successful and fruitful ministry. Success can be produced by men, and it “There is a difference between a successful ministry and a fruitful ministry. Success can be produced by men and it often fools us. Only the Holy Spirit can bring forth fruit, fruit in the form of changed hearts and lives!” 12

Is radio still an appropriate medium for ministry in the Arab region? What about TV? For the last 50 years, TWR has been the only voice to bring the Good News into the closed Arab world through radio waves that can cross the boarders and penetrate barriers. Things have changed since TWR first started broadcasting to the Arab world, and now there are many satellite TV channels that bring the Good News, which is a great complement to what we do. However, within the Muslim culture and community it is not always possible for a Muslim family to sit all together and openly watch a Christian broadcast. We have received responses from listeners who have shared that they cannot watch a Christian TV program because their family members or parents would not allow it. However, these listeners can take a personal radio set and listen [to a Christian program] in their room. Radio is a friend, a secret friend that can talk privately to someone, telling them that they are free human beings, that God has created them, and that they are free to question anything and obtain the truth. This is the strength of radio. We at TWR are, of course, aware of the changes happening in technology. Internet is a very powerful tool that we are using to complement our work in radio. In May 2013, TWR launched an iOS app in the Arabic language. TWR

Arabic Radio application offers quality Arabic Christian Radio programs 24/7 and is a powerful tool for interacting with listeners. We want to be up-to-date with what is happening around us, but this does not mean that we will move out of radio and do something else. I believe God is using radio, and he will be using it for many years to come. As long as there are people who do not know the Lord in closed countries, radio will be a powerful tool bring the Good News to them in a safe, private, and a personal way. What is your vision for the Arab world? Many good people in this region are “sincerely wrong,” which means that they are really trying to do the right things but fail because they don’t know, in many ways that they are misled. It is our responsibility to make the Word of God, the truth, available to them. After that, it is the person’s choice to receive it or reject it. Out of 168 hours in a week, we are currently broadcasting only around 35-40 hours. My vision is to see this number double or even triple so that people cannot say, “We do not know.” This, however, will require us to get more resources, more workers and mobilize more local believers into media ministry.

“Radio is a friend, a secret friend that can talk privately to someone.”

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“We hear you. Your work is vital. Keep it up.”8
Prayer points
• Pray that the broadcast of God’s Word into the Middle East would continue to have a profound and extensive impact on people. • Pray for Arabs who come to Christ to have fellowship with other believers and for Bibles and Christian literature to establish them in the faith and encourage their spiritual growth. • Pray for Christians in the Arab world to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and emboldened to share the Gospel with others. • Pray for wisdom for the staff of TWR’s Arabic ministries as they produce programs for Women of Hope in Arabic. Pray against oppression of women. • Pray for the safety of the Christians in the Arab world as well as the safety and security of TWR staff and offices. I longed for death, and asked for it daily. I tried to kill myself more than once, but it was in vain. Even death refused my companionship! Amidst this dark pit of doom, there was a ray of light flickering so bright! This Light would soon cast away all of my shadows! At the prison we were allowed to have only one “lavish” request every year. That was their act of mercy towards us. Being full of pride, I turned down their offer for many years and rejected their “gift”. During my 10th year in prison, and when we were asked for our annual request, I decided to make use of this opportunity. I only wanted a radio, which can fill the long hours of heavy silence. My request was granted and one of my family members brought me a radio. I now had a “friend,” whom I could hear but not talk to. Still, that was better than nothing! But soon, what I thought would entertain me and help me forget my worries actually mounted my despair. The meaningless songs, the trivial talk shows, and political interviews reminded me of the outer “free world” that was struggling with pain and slavery just like I was doing here in prison. I remembered that while I was “free” in the society’s eyes, I was a slave in my own! Thus, neither prison nor “freedom” could help me. One night, and after all had gone to sleep, I was flipping through the radio stations and I came across one that would soon change my life forever. Someone was talking about the love of God that cleanses the stains of sin, forgives, heals, restores, and gives joy and peace; a love that has been extended to a fallen race, through Jesus the Savior; there’s hope in saving grace. That love is “greater far than gold or silver ever could afford; it reaches past the highest star and covers all the world!” It knows no race or religion; it gives without anything in return. Coming from a non-Christian background, I was raised to believe that love is a lie. No one loves genuinely; no one sacrifices without expecting a pay back. I was taught that among God’s many attributes, he loved people, but they had to be “good” and “righteous.” Therefore, for God to love a wretch like me was unquestionable. The announcer continued and said, “The love of God goes beneath the deepest stain that sin could ever leave; it redeems souls to live again!” Live again? Oh, how I needed to live again, to breathe once more the breath of life. Somehow my desire to “live again” sprang in me.
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Listener Story: Let Freedom Ring
Standing behind rock-solid iron bars, hearing the sounds of gnashing and gnawing echoing in the hallway, smelling the rotten, stinking odor of my cell, and looking at the eyes of the desperate and the hopeless, my life was doomed to failure and anguish. Being a first class thief, I was sentenced at the age of 35 to fifteen years of imprisonment. Even if I survived the cruelty of prison life and made it out in due time, I would have grown old and weary to enjoy my “left over” days. Therefore, death would do me a favor if he visited me. How

Olson, Dick 50 years of Arabic Broadcasts, Infoserve, volume 16, number 1, p.3

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I got addicted to listening to Trans World Radio. I woke up early every morning to listen to its programs; at night, it was the last thing I heard before I slept. Day by day, I started learning about God, His grace, His redeeming blood through His Son, Jesus Christ. And in one of the nights, I heard a hymn that was calling me to take a life-time decision: “Come ye sinners lost and lonely, Jesus’ blood can make you free; for He saved the worst among you when He saved a wretch like me. Jesus’ blood can make the vilest sinner clean; it’s the blood of Jesus that can make you clean.” Oh, how I needed to be clean from the filth of sin. I was that vilest sinner and I believed that only the blood of Jesus on Calvary can make me clean. I bowed down my head and cried out to the Lord with tearful eyes, “Lord have mercy on me, forgive me, save me, come and renew my broken spirit, I want to be a new person and I want to live for you.” Suddenly, I felt I was a different person. The gloom and fretfulness were gone; instead, joy and peace filled my heart. I never felt happier in my entire life. I wanted to shout, to dance, to sing, to cry, to laugh…I did become a new person! I was finally FREE! Jesus came and brought to me the victory! I started corresponding with TWR team, who answered my numerous questions and helped me grow in my journey and relationship with the Lord. In a miraculous way, I was able to have the Bible, which became and still is the most priceless treasure one could ever have. I started witnessing to my fellow inmates and at night we used to gather around the radio to listen to TWR. Soon, the circle of listeners enlarged, and more than 10 prisoners were committed to join us daily. One day, a prisoner approached me and said, “I have noticed that you have become a totally new person, as if I don’t know you anymore. What’s the secret of your constant smile and joy, your self-control, and ideal behavior? I want to be like you, what shall I do?” After testifying to him, that prisoner accepted the Lord as His Savior and together, we started Bible study groups in prison. Now, prison was no more a pain; it became a joy! I now have a reason to live…and, oh, what a reason! Five wonderful years passed in prison, where God used me to witness to the broken hearts and where He amended their souls. Time for my release was near. As much as I was happy to leave, I was also sad for my fellow friends at prison who need to hear about that Great Love that died and gave Himself in their places, so we can live. Outside prison, God had also prepared a vital ministry for me. I was passionate to tell my family, friends, and all those who live in darkness and ignorance that the only way for true freedom is through Jesus Christ. I want more people in my area to experience the power of salvation and the victory in Jesus Christ. Severe persecution was and still is my portion, but I’m honored not only to suffer for Christ but to die for Him as well. My pain now is far worse than the beatings of the prison, but there’s no greater joy than to see lost souls coming back for Christ. All hurt is forgotten as soon as a soul is saved from hell. I join my voice with the song writer and say: Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring! twreurope.org 15

Although in prison, I was freer than the eagles that soared in the sky because my soul was free! The walls and iron bars that surrounded me could not hold me captive; I have known the Truth and the Truth had set me free!

TWR at a glance
Speaking fluently in more than 230 languages and dialects, TWR exists to reach the world for Jesus Christ. Our global media outreach engages millions in 160 countries with biblical truth. For nearly 60 years, God has enabled TWR to help lead people from doubt to decision to discipleship. Together with international partners, local churches and other ministries, TWR provides relevant programming, discipleship resources and dedicated workers to spread hope to individuals and communities around the globe. Whether using high-powered AM/MW, shortwave or FM radio, streaming content to Internet users or visiting face-to-face with listeners, TWR leaves a lasting spiritual footprint.

TWR Arabic Radio App

Photo and illustration credits:
twreurope.org © 2013

Dreamstime, Royalty Free Stock Photos, Paul Kitchener, Andrej Mišina, Karin Rotter, and TWR Europe.