Bali Workshop Empowers

FEBC Indonesia conducted the first of a series of Content in Context workshops earlier this month in Bali, near its local Heartline station on the island. The teams learned more about individual audience. They explored creative approaches to producing new content. They also discovered ways to make their messages more appealing to those they want to reach.

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A plenary session where teams learned how to engage their audiences.

The workshop included four teams from the region. A local church association hosted the event at their headquarters since they already have a team of producers working with the station. In addition to the Heartline station team, there was also a group of station managers from another radio network. With the help of a translator for the presentations and several handouts already available in the national language, the teams were able to absorb and apply the concepts to their content planning.

There were several encouraging ideas that surfaced during the course of the workshop. One team is planning to start a radio drama series to model values for the families listening to the station. Another team had been collecting responses from their audience for several months but struggled with how to interpret what they had. The workshop gave them insights into learning more about their audience from the data. One team member shared how the workshop helped her team  relate better to the audience. It also impacted her personally, helping her think of new ways to share her faith with her family.

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The workshop facilitators stopped by a scenic stretch of coastline in Bali before heading home

The next workshop in the series is scheduled for this week in Samarinda, located on the island of Kalimantan. Teams living in the reach of FEBC Indonesia’s station will be joining. Please pray for the media teams now as they prepare for the three day event.

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Content Workshops Across Indonesia

Since returning to Indonesia at the end of August, our involvement with the FEBC team here picked up right where it left off. We were welcomed back warmly and encouraged to step right into my facilitating role in conducting Content in Context workshops. While we were away, significant progress was made on FEBC Indonesia’s strategy to expand outlets for their content through other radio stations across the country.

The Content in Context workshops have a pivotal role in this strategy. Broadcasting their programming across more stations requires content that many audiences welcome and appreciate. The ability of a partner station to draw an audience to FEBC content is not only vital to FEBC, but to the partner station as well. The workshop focuses on these important issues and allows stations and their content teams to consider how they will align their content to the context of the audience to best communicate their messages. Improved content draws a larger audience for both FEBC and the local station.

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Meeting with station managers from our Heartline network to introduce the Content in Context workshop

Earlier this month, I introduced the concepts used in the workshop (what I call a simulation) to station managers of FEBC Indonesia. In a fast-paced series of presentations, they learned how some of the tools work to guide individual teams in creating more effective content. One station manager told me when she first heard about this workshop, she was not very interested. But after the simulation, she said she wished this workshop had been available to her station last year.

I am now working with the local project team here to conduct two workshops before the end of the year, in the provinces of Bali and East Kalimantan (where our newly enthused station manager is located!) We are expecting to conduct further workshops at other stations in 2019. The first workshop takes place at the end of October. Space in this workshop is now filled with five teams wanting to participate. I’m working closely with the coordinator of the workshops on translations and preparing the teams for the event.

I would invite you to pray for these teams that are joining the first workshop. The teams include our local FEBC station team and two teams from a local church that are producing programs for the station. Another team of station managers connected with an Asia by Media partner also plans to participate. There is another missions organization, wishing to remain anonymous, who wants to add a youth program to their strategy to be broadcast from the FEBC local station.

  • Please pray that God will lead each of these teams to discover their content strategy and trust Him to reveal a workable plan for the next year.
  • Pray for the facilitators who will lead each team. They will be trained, some for the first time, the day before the workshop. Pray that God will give them wisdom and insight on how to guide their assigned team.

May God use these opportunities to further His plans to touch hearts in Indonesia with His hope and transforming grace.

 

Stepping Out

Barb and I have now returned to Indonesia and are settling back into our ministry roles. The flight back from the US was uneventful as Barb handled the return very well. Her mobility during flights was not an issue as she was able to get up and move around on a regular basis. While she used a wheel chair to get around the airports, she had no difficulty with her hip and could walk around with very little assistance.

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Live in Heartline Studio during Coffee Morning

Once we landed in Jakarta, it was time to pick up ministry where we left off. In addition to sharing with the staff upon our return, I was invited to join our local morning talk show to share some music as part of the program. There were some lively conversations among the guests that day as they explored how to live harmoniously in today’s environment.

I also returned to my role of ministry in our local church in Jakarta. Recently I was invited to join the church leadership team with an emphasis in worship and the performing arts. I’m inviting members of our congregation who have an interest in these areas to consider being involved in our “Worship Community”. Together, we’ll explore how to use the arts to encourage conversations and build relationships among our members and their networks where the gospel can be discussed. Our first event will be a series of Christmas encounters in which we use music and the spoken word to introduce the essence and relevance of that first Christmas. These encounters will be held in homes and other neutral venues in the vicinity. Our members will be encouraged to invite their friends to an enriching evening of  music and conversation. Please be praying for church members to catch the vision and for those who will be invited, that they will explore with us the significance of that first Christmas.

Planning is also underway for two Content in Context workshops to be conducted here in Indonesia in the next couple of months. It will start with an introduction to the workshop for the station managers of the Heartline network followed by the two workshops at locations outside of Jakarta. More updates on these as the planning progresses.

Our Imminent Return

Our two-month summer in the US brought with it a vastly different approach to life than we have in Indonesia. This visit was planned quickly back in April when it became clear that Barb’s right hip needed to be replaced to alleviate her ever increasing pain. So the past two months, instead of ministry in Asia, we’ve been staying in California where Barb had a successful hip replacement procedure and subsequent recovery.

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We are so pleased with Barb’s hip surgery and recovery

This quickly planned diversion was a step of faith that demonstrated God’s care for Barb and me every step along the way. Not sure she’d be approved or scheduled for a procedure, we went to the US praying for God’s direction. While there were a few unexpected twists during that first meeting with her selected surgeon, we could see God’s hand at work. Following her successful procedure in the middle of July, Barb started her road to recovery.

Each day we saw a bit of improvement as her mobility started to recover. She noticed right away that the pain from the joint had completely vanished. She still had the pain from the surgery but with each passing day that became more manageable until it faded away. With the help of her exercises and physical therapy, she quickly graduated from walker to cane to moving around the house on her own. By the middle of August, she was feeling well enough to leave the cane in the car as we went shopping, took in some of the sites, and visited with several we know in the area.

We met with her surgeon earlier last week who indicated he’s pleased with her progress so far. He would like to see her again when we come back in a bit over a year. He also gave her the go signal for our scheduled return to Indonesia in the early hours of August 29. While Barb has some precautions to observe when we return, she should be able to resume her normal routine when we get back.

While we’ve been in California, we’ve tried to keep up with our ongoing work in Asia via email and phone conversations. We are grateful for the technology that allows us to maintain our influence and assistance even though we are separated by many time zones. But we can tell it is time for us to get back so that preparations can fully proceed for new content workshops in Indonesia later this year.

For those of you who have prayed, commented, sent your love, and encouraged us through this time, we are grateful for God’s expressions of goodness through each of you. Thank you for standing with us through these past two months. We are so thankful that Barb’s hip problem is now resolved, enabling us to regain our ministry focus upon return to Indonesia.

Restoring Mobility

Barb and I made a medical trip back to the US earlier this month. We are currently in California awaiting a procedure for Barb. She’s been suffering for several months with pain in her right hip. We thought upon returning to Indonesia last January, she would be able to manage the arthritis, but that did not turn out to be the case.

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Barb enjoying our visit to an authentic Thai coffee shop

So after my trip to Singapore for a broadcast and media conference, it was time for us to come back for her hip replacement surgery. We have seen a doctor and scheduled the procedure for July 18. Please be in prayer for Barb’s surgery and her ongoing recovery. There will be several weeks of exercises and careful maneuvering while the new hip joint gets settled and she heals from the procedure.

With a successful procedure, we anticipate she will be more mobile than over the past few months. We were grateful she was able to travel with me earlier last month but it’s been increasingly apparent that we needed to take some time to have this problem addressed.

Thanks so much for the many who have been praying on her behalf for her surgery and recovery. We appreciate them and your messages of care and concern.

Signs Toward Progress

Barb and I just completed a trip around Southeast Asia with stops in the Philippines and Thailand. This included meetings with media practitioners about the value of the Content in Context workshop. These initial discussions, follow-up to conversations that took place last March, are important to give media organizations the chance to explore the concepts from their own unique perspectives before committing to participate.

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Meeting many of our FEBC colleagues was one of the highlights of our visit

We were privileged to return to the Philippines during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the first FEBC broadcast in Asia. We participated in a number of events during the week prior to the anniversary. It included times with staff, listeners, and other media practitioners in the country. One of the highlights for us was a staff reunion of more than 300 current and former FEBCers who have served since the 1950’s.

FEBC Philippines are pioneers of innovation in reaching out to their changing audiences. Their content strategies for their stations are reviewed and adjusted regularly. While they may not need a full “workshop”, they are considering adapting and including some of the tools from Content in Context in future training events. I’ll continue working with them in preparation for their next regional station content training scheduled for September this year. 

Following our visit to the Philippines, our next stop was Thailand. At the invitation of the Thailand Media Network (TMN), I joined their regular monthly meeting to offer further details about a proposed workshop. The organizers gave me the entire morning to introduce the workshop to their members. Their response was encouraging. The network will meet again in July to decide whether they will sponsor the workshop and endorse it to media teams in the region. One of its members expressed interest in hosting the workshop at their office in Chiang Mai.

 

We will keep following these developments in both Manila and Chiang Mai. Please pray for the coordination needed to host successful events in these locations when the opportunity arises.

Ready, Set, . . . but, First!

Over the past few months, I’ve been following up on the interest shown in the “Content in Context” workshop. Several presentations in March resulted in ongoing conversations over the past couple of months. I’m working with several media organizations, including FEBC, to host a workshop in the near future.

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Introducing the Content in Context workshop to several media organizations last March

These negotiations will determine the schedule for workshops in Thailand, and Indonesia this year. There is also interest at FEBC-Philippines to include the workshop in their content planning efforts. So over the next month, Barb and I will be visiting the Philippines and Thailand to continue those conversations. We are particularly looking forward to returning to Manila, where we ministered for 17 years, and visit many of our colleagues and friends.

But. . .  before these workshops take place, there are some personal matters we need to address. The first is with Barb’s health. Over the past several months, she has been struggling with one of her hip joints causing increasing pain. When we were home last year, x-rays revealed that osteoarthritis had worn away the cartilage. While we thought the pain could be managed with medication when we returned to Indonesia, the pain has become increasingly intolerable. As a result, Barb and I will be making a return visit to the US later this summer for her hip surgery. Barb is now in the process of making arrangements with a doctor and medical facility where the procedure can be done. We’ll know more details in the coming weeks

This visit to the US will also permit me to visit my family in North Dakota.

I will also be tending to some other FEBC related business while in the US. Both of us, as time allows, will continue to participate in our ministry activities in the midst of the medical process. I’m expecting to follow up on details regarding future workshops and help those who will host them in their preparations. Please be praying that we can work around these schedule adjustments and return to Asia in a timely fashion to proceed with the workshops.

 

Signs of Progress

Having the opportunity to interact with so many across the FEBC family is a privilege. The past couple of months were filled with several fruitful discussions in Thailand and Hong Kong. These conversations are laying the foundation for content developments across several FEBC ministries in the months to come.

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The IST (back) enjoyed our time with the Russia and Ukraine team

FEBC was well represented at a major Christian media conference that included representatives from more than 140 organizations. There were 16 delegates from six FEBC ministries who joined specific training workshops held prior to the conference itself. This included technical and information technology staff, researchers, content creators, and leaders responsible for content strategy in their specific countries. During our one-day meeting with just the FEBC participants, I was so encouraged to learn of the plans to implement what they had learned. I’m pleased to report that several of our teams are becoming more focused on learning about their audiences so they can be more effective.

During the conference, I had the opportunity to introduce the “Content in Context” workshop. The workshop itself offers media teams the space and tools to consider how their content is impacting their audiences. The two separate presentations generated interest from several media organizations, including FEBC. The conversations that followed resulted in new opportunities:

  • I am currently working with a media network in Northern Thailand to conduct the workshop in that region later this year. I’ll be meeting with the leaders of this network in June to negotiate the details. Pray that we will find an organization during this visit to host the workshop sometime later this year.
  • FEBC-Philippines expressed interest in learning more about the workshop. They are one of our leading innovators in content production on multiple platforms. They are keen on developing strategies with their audiences in focus. There will be further conversations in June as we mutually explore the possibilities.
  • Here at “home”, FEBC-Indonesia is embarking on a project for equipping potential partners to produce inspiring content for their local Heartline station. A key part of their strategy is the workshop. I’ll be working with the team here to roll out a locally delivered series of workshops later this year.

FEBC International has also just concluded its members’ conference in April. This conference brings together key leaders from many FEBC operations around the world and some of their key ministry partners. In addition to learning about media ministry in various locations across the FEBC world, there were many important conversations about how the Association can work better together. Several of us in our team, including Barb’s administration group, provided support during the four days of meetings. Several participants commented how this had been one of the best conferences they had attended in FEBC.

So now we’re working not only on keeping the conversations going, but developing the action plans that will transform these ideas into reality. Our teams need the support to turn their innovation into inspiration as their audiences encounter the gospel. Barb and I are working on the detailed planning and guidance necessary to help the workshops take place.

The Gathering

One of the challenges of working among teams ministering in 100 languages is getting these teams together. It is difficult to find a common language, usually English, that everyone can use to communicate about the very basic topics of life. Combine that with the time pressures that come with producing content on a tight schedule, very few ever have the time to think outside their own environments. Opportunities to interact with others who have the same heart and focus for reaching people through media are rare.

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Meeting FEBC colleagues is always a privilege

There are many benefits from bringing members of different teams together. With the upcoming training opportunities at the EMDC conference later this month in Thailand, a few delegates from FEBC will be able to meet other colleagues.  Sixteen staff from six different FEBC countries are registered for the four-day training event prior to the conference itself. They will be joined by three of us from the FEBC International Service Team (IST). Our role is to help the delegates get the most out of their experience during the week together.

Each delegate will be assigned to a FEBC mentor. The purpose of these daily conversations is to help the delegate identify key points of learning and begin thinking about how they will apply them when they get back home. It’s not always easy to incorporate new skills and concepts into what is often a very busy and routine approach to developing their content. So we discuss not only what each delegate needs to do when they get home but also consider what support they might need. What obstacles might they encounter when they get home that could hinder them from applying their new skills? This sets up ongoing conversations with them over the coming months following the training.

There is also a one-day meeting for all the delegates before they return home. We call this the FEBC Gathering. We bring all the delegates together for a day of sharing plans and new ideas. They have the opportunity to meet other staff from FEBC who are doing the same kind of work, or learning similar skills. This is a golden opportunity to see how others are ministering and take home another  new idea or two. For some, this is the very first time to meet another person from FEBC outside their own country. One delegate told me recently that for him, this gathering was the most valuable part of his experience back in 2016. He’s looking forward to joining us again this year to pick up from where he left off.

Please be in prayer for these participants and for the three of us from the IST as we prepare to meet together. Pray for our preparations for the training, our mentoring and the one day gathering. Pray especially for easy communication in a different and sometimes difficult language, English. Those of us from the English world have to work hard to keep our conversations simple, slower, and easier to understand. Pray for wise application of what is learned and the persistence to carry through on putting skills and ideas into practice.

The Return

Just a few weeks ago, we were making our final preparations. It was time to head out from the frozen plains of the upper Midwest to return to the humid tropics of Southeast Asia. Our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with family were now memories to take with us. We were busy taking care of last minute personal details, packing up our winter clothes in storage for the next trip back to the USA while ensuring what remained would make the trip to Asia. After one final cold snap and a dusting of snow we boarded our flight from Minnesota. Roughly 24 hours later we stepped into the humidity of Jakarta where a midnight shower ushered us back home.

We are grateful for the past 4 months back in the US. We were able to connect with several of our friends and partners. We welcomed new opportunities (some unplanned) to share stories from our work in media across Asia. We met new friends even though we weren’t able to schedule times with everyone on our list. Through the faithfulness of many, we are able to return to Asia with the resources we need to continue what’s been started.

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Good to be back into our roles with our Indonesian and international colleagues

Now we are back in our office in Jakarta, renewing our relationships with colleagues in ministry. While there have been a couple unexpected surprises upon our return, it’s been mostly uneventful. We are grateful for the warm welcome back.

We needed to get right into our work activities. One of my immediate responsibilities includes coordinating FEBC participation in media training as part of a conference in Thailand. There will be 16 FEBC staff coming to join in training workshops offered prior to the conference. I’ll also be introducing the “Content in Context” workshop concept to delegates at the conference as well as giving a more detailed overview to the steering committee of Asia by Media, who are promoting its use. Please continue to pray that these opportunities will raise interest among media ministries to participate in the workshop. The response to these sessions will give us a good indication of interest and opportunities to schedule the workshop for other media teams.

Barb and I will value your prayers over the next few weeks as I prepare for this conference. Shortly after that, both of us will be on our way to Hong Kong to help with  the FEBC International annual meeting.