Category Archives: Asia by Media
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.
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.
We stepped out of our home early one September morning to load our bags into a taxi headed for the Jakarta airport. We had done this several times in the past. Yet this time, the journey would be much longer. Instead of just a week or two, this trip would be nearly 4 months long with multiple stops across Asia and the US.
Content Innovation Summit
Our first stop was in Chiang Mai, Thailand where FEBC held its first program directors’ conference in 10 years. The event drew directors from all across Asia and even from a country in Africa. The three-day summit was intended to promote sharing of innovations in programming. We learned from one another about a variety of approaches to connect with audiences around the FEBC world. Some of the innovations included movie conversation starters, children producing content for children, storytelling, and many others. The directors found several ideas to try. One highlight of the discussion was the many commitments to assist one another across ministry teams. For the next few months, the directors will be going back to their teams to explore their new ideas further.
Asia by Media Meetings
From there, we continued on to Tokyo, Japan for a series of meetings with Asia by Media. A major portion of our steering committee meeting involved reviewing the recent “Content in Context” workshop conducted in Indonesia. I was quite encouraged by the warm reception from the steering committee as they heartily endorsed the concept and encouraged me to repeat the workshop in the near future. We are currently considering a workshop in Thailand next year. I’m also in discussions with another media conference to introduce the concept, gauge interest and develop further opportunities for media teams to join.
Arrival in US
Barb and I are now in the US, starting our time of home assignment. We spent the first week in California with a visit to the FEBC-USA office on the agenda. We then made a stop in Denver, Colorado where I spent some time with our co-worker and good friend Guy West. His church was having a men’s retreat in the mountains. I was invited to join them to lead worship, share some songs, and work with the ministry’s leadership team.
We have now arrived in Minnesota for a few days as we get prepared for upcoming meetings with supporters and churches.
Meetings in October
Our schedule is starting to come together. We expect the month of October to be busy with a variety of events where we will be sharing our ministry. Here’s the current schedule:
- Oct 7 – Steer Banquet in Bismarck ND
- Oct 8 – First Baptist Church in Wishek, ND
- Oct 15 – First and Lucky Mound Lutheran Churches in Parshall, ND
- Oct 22 – Covenant Village in Golden Valley, MN
- Oct 29 – Immanuel Lutheran Church in Springfield, MO
Over the past few weeks, my time has been focused on preparing for a pilot workshop for media teams in Indonesia. This workshop, called “Content in Context” was held on Aug 8-10 and is sanctioned under Asia by Media, a network of international media organizations operating in Asia. Offered to teams located in Indonesia, the workshop created environments for a team to explore their media efforts from their unique perspectives of their audience. It is the first time this framework, formulated during my time in Africa, has been presented in this way. It assists teams to discover meaningful and creative ways of delivering their messages in ways the audience would value.
There were four teams from Asia by Media member organizations participating in the workshop. It didn’t take long for the teams to appreciate what they were learning. Brief introductions to tools to help them explore their audiences and evaluate their content set the stage for individual team discussions. Each team then applied the tools to their issues and strategies. This allowed the teams to find answers to the questions most important to them. As I visited each team at various times, it was quite clear the workshop was giving them fresh and valuable perspectives on their content. New discoveries were surfacing, including the need to understand more about their audiences.
The workshop was quite interactive, both within the teams and during sessions when we all met together. Some of the comments heard from participants included:
- “We need to visit our listeners regularly so that we can learn more about their values and needs.”
- “Once or twice a month, our team is going to listen to one of our programs from the perspective of our audience.”
- “We need to review the different programs we produce to evaluate how well they match with our intended audience.” The workshop introduced a tool to help with this.
- “I realized that I need to know more about my audience.”
There are already discussions starting about conducting this workshop again for other teams, both here in Indonesia and elsewhere around Asia. I’m currently working on a report for Asia by Media to share the results of this pilot. In September, at our steering committee meeting in Japan, we will review these and make some decisions about how to proceed with the concept.
This was also the first time Barb and I had organized this kind of workshop. Barb was instrumental in handling the registration details, coordinating with our hosts, and communicating with the participants prior to the workshop. Her diligence to the many logistic details to organize the event made a huge contribution to its impact on the participants.
For those who have prayed with us about this workshop, please thank God for the answers to your prayers. There was much evidence that God was at work.
We anticipated being busy in May. Now that I look back at the month just past, all the places we’ve been, and the variety of people we’ve met, it is no wonder we’re feeling just a bit tired. Barb and I traveled together to Bali and Hong Kong. I made my first visit to Australia while Barb tossed in a trip up to Bangkok in Thailand. So after visiting 6 different airports last month, we’re ready to stay in Jakarta for a few weeks so we can get some focus for the coming months.
The month started off with a visit to Bali, another island in Indonesia. We’ve been there several times in the past so are getting familiar with the place. This time, we spent a few days meeting up with several of our former colleagues at TWR. We built some wonderful relationships with several staff, both in Africa and in Asia. While they were part of TWR’s emerging leaders’ summit, Barb and I were able to cross paths with them as well other members of the FEBC family who also joined this inter-mission conference. It was encouraging to see younger leaders from the different media ministries working and preparing together.
I then paid a visit to the eastern side of Australia for meetings with Asia by Media, a forum of media ministries in Asia. The two days of planning focused on an upcoming workshop for Indonesian content teams currently scheduled for August. I also participated in a conference on Christian media. This conference was quite helpful as there was a major emphasis on the use of digital media and the networking opportunities available with our audiences through today’s social media platforms. This is a key topic for many of our teams using social media to engage with their audiences.
Shortly after I returned from Australia, Barb took a special trip to Bangkok Thailand to visit with some of her good friends from the Philippines who were part of a Bible study group several years back. The three of them had a wonderful time exploring Bangkok together and encouraging one another.
Soon after her return, Barb and I traveled together to Hong Kong to participate in a digital media conference sponsored by FEBC for content teams focusing on Chinese languages. The teams explored approaches to their online ministry efforts. This conference confirmed a number of principles I’d heard in Australia. I was particularly encouraged to see the steps that our colleagues are taking with volunteers to interact with those contacting FEBC through social media channels.
We have now returned to Jakarta and are prepared to settle in for a few weeks. We need to focus our efforts to prepare for the Asia by Media sanctioned workshop which I will be leading. That will be followed by a FEBC programming directors’ summit in Thailand in September. We will value your prayers for clarity and diligence as I work on the agendas for each conference and Barb assists with the logistics.
Following these upcoming events, Barb and I are planning to return to the US for a few months of home assignment beginning at the end of September. We’ll be in the country through sometime in January 2018. We anticipate a fair bit of travel when we are home but look forward to meeting family, friends, supporters, and churches involved in our ministry.