Category Archives: FEBC

Contains information pertinent to FEBC ministry in the US or in Asia

A Journey with Many Stops

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

The Content Innovation Summit sparked great conversations with our media teams

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.

The view of a snow-capped Pike’s Peak from the retreat center

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
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Workshop Benefits Media Teams

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.

CiC_Heartline_Team

Engaging conversations with the team from Heartline FM. They reported excellent progress.

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.

May Migrations

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.

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Enjoyed my time with brothers from international Christian media ministries here in Asia. It’s important that we continue to work 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.

Refining Our Focus

As with any journey, there are always adjustments to be made. Since we see the future through a dim lens, we trust the Lord to guide our steps. Such is the case every year when we, the International Service Team (IST) gather together following the annual FEBC International conference of our leadership. This year, our meeting took place in Seoul, South Korea, just as the cherry blossoms were blooming. Coming from the tropical temperatures of Indonesia, the cooler spring air of Korea was a refreshing welcome.

IST 2017 Korea

The International Service Team (IST) assembles once a year to plan and focus our efforts in support of FEBC International. This time, it was in South Korea.

In the dynamic ministry environment of media, particularly when working in so many cultures and languages, we frequently deal with change. We know that adjusting is just part of the process as we learn more about the needs of our international ministries across the FEBC world. We adjust the way we work together and apply the years of cross-cultural experience in the team to be more fruitful.

So over the past few months, I’ve been working to refine my roles in the IST. While I am still maintaining my project management role, I’ve noticed that the need in this area is diminishing. Most projects don’t require the kind of international coordination IST was offering to help them succeed. So this has freed me up to shift my focus to supporting production teams across FEBC International. I’m now working on the preparations for two conferences that will impact FEBC teams producing content not just for radio but for a wide variety of media channels available today. Here’s a brief focus of each:

  • Media Retreat Pilot: In cooperation with a network of international Christian media ministries known as Asia by Media, I’m developing a new concept called a “Media Retreat”. This involves bringing content production teams together into an environment where individual teams can review and develop strategies for impacting their audiences.
  • Content Innovation Summit: It has been several years since FEBC programming directors have met together. This summit is being designed to bring these leaders face to face to share what has worked in their context. They can learn new approaches that can encourage audiences to follow Jesus. We also look for new ways of partnering together for greater impact.

With these two events happening in calendar year 2017, there are many details to address to maximize the impact of these conferences. They don’t necessarily provide the answers, but offer environments of discovery where leaders and their teams are inspired to produce content relevant for their individual audiences.

Barb and I will appreciate your prayers as we work together in helping plan and coordinate these two events in the coming months. I’m currently working with others in and outside of FEBC to craft the agendas and approaches for the conferences, while Barb is assisting me with logistical details and venue arrangements. We have much to sort through in the weeks to come. Pray that these events will ultimately result in greater impact among the many different audiences FEBC serves.

Progress Visit

Just after Valentine’s Day last month, I had the opportunity to visit one of FEBC’s FM radio stations here in Indonesia. This station was the second one to be constructed in what would soon be the birth of the Heartline network. I had visited this city of 300,000 people back when the station was first envisioned in 2001. So who would have thought, after 15 years of operation, I would have the chance to see how the station has been doing.

Glad to lead worship with the engineer at the station. We do have some things in common.

Glad to lead worship with the engineer at the station. We do have some things in common.

Much has changed since 2001. I arrived at a much different airport (in a different city, though) than the one I visited back then. It has been significantly upgraded because of the economic development in the region. It turns out that the island of Kalimantan has a number of natural resources which make it a destination for many investors. The city of Samarinda, where the station broadcasts, has grown considerably. Roads are in better condition. The signs of economic progress are everywhere, from construction taking place to a thriving port on the river passing through the valley. While FEBC’s station was one of the first in the city, I was privileged to also see two other stations during the  visit.

FEBC’s station is still faithfully broadcasting from a residential subdivision nestled back against a hill that overlooks the city. The tower is located just below the summit. Programming is in the national language and in English. Much of the original studio equipment is still in service today.

The station has not been without its challenges. Just recently, the original transmitter was replaced with a much smaller and more efficient unit that still provides a strong signal. The tower supports not only the station’s antenna, but a number of other services. A few months before my visit, the top portion of the tower collapsed because the tower is getting older. It had been repaired by the time I arrived. The station already has a newer tower ready to put up, but it is still waiting for clearance from the government to do so.

A special part of the visit included a thanksgiving service that was hosted at a prayer chapel right next to the transmitter site. Approximately 30 people came on Saturday morning to pray for the broadcasts and to thank God for the provision of this new transmitter. Many have been faithfully listening to the station over the years and expressed their appreciation for the broadcasts. I met several of them after the service, including one woman who is completely blind. Heartline’s broadcasts have been very special to her.

Continue to pray for this radio station as they face a number of challenges in their operation. Besides struggling to upgrade their equipment, they face significant competition from the other stations in the city. Pray that the station and its staff would not only survive, but learn to thrive in the dynamic environment of growth that will broaden their audience beyond the churches in the community. I’m encouraged to see that God is still at work in a station I had the privilege, in a small way, to help get started.

Discovering Truth in God’s Word

Barb is enthusiastic about helping others study the word of God. I’ll let her tell you about what’s happening:


“Why are you here studying the Gospel of John?”  “What do you hope to learn this year?”  These were some of the questions discussed at the first Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class a few weeks ago.  Last year was my (Barb) first experience with BSF, when we studied the book of Revelation.  This year, I was asked to be a group discussion leader.  I am thrilled to be able to serve God in this way – to encourage other women to study God’s word inductively.

Barb encouraging a number of women as they study the gospel of John

Barb encouraging a number of women as they study the gospel of John

Each week we each do individual study in the Gospel of John, then gather together as a group to discuss the things God is teaching us through His Word.  After the discussion, all six groups gather together to listen to our teaching leader, Viska, share from God’s Word.  Throughout the week, I pray for the women in my group and contact each one to encourage them in their spiritual walk.

What a blessing it is to get to know these women!  And what a blessing to study afresh the life of Jesus Christ as told by the apostle John.   God has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  At times, the world that we live in can appear quite dark and oppressive.  When we see the crime, terrorism, and social changes around us, we may wonder what the future holds for us and our children.

John 1:4-5 reminds us, “In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 

The life we have in Christ brings light to our individual lives, to our families, and to our world.  His light is continually shining.  The darkness around us will never overcome the Light.  God calls all followers of Jesus to shine His light to the world around us.

As you pray, please consider these:

  • Pray for me as I lead the BSF discussion group. May each woman grow closer to Jesus as we learn from Him.
  • Pray for Nathan as he continues to look for a full-time job in Orlando, FL.
  • Pray for us as we make preparations to host our International Service Team mid-year retreat here in Jakarta Nov 7-11.

Media and Disciple Making

Making disciples is a core calling for every believer. It’s God’s plan to use His followers to encourage those we meet to consider Jesus, follow Him, and become disciple-makers themselves. With the complexities of life, cultures, perceptions, and values, becoming a disciple can be a complicated process. That’s true for us who may have been following Jesus for some time. It’s even more involved for those who have no understanding yet of who this Jesus is. So, just like an orchestra performs inspiring music, it takes a wide variety of approaches to weave together experiences and conversations that encourage someone to consider Jesus for themselves.

DMM Concert Night

Enjoying an evening of music at the DMM Workshop

I recently participated in a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) media workshop hosted by FEBC’s partner, Ibra Media. The week-long workshop took place in northern Thailand where a number of media teams from Ibra’s network came together. We met to explore how media can provide value to sparking a DMM in a particular people group or community.

It became clear early on that media can only be a part of a larger discipling strategy. It requires intentional disciple-makers entering the community in search of open and spiritually hungry individuals (called persons of peace) who eagerly introduce what they are discovering to their existing networks of relationships. Guided by their mentors, it will be these persons of peace who will share the stories and start the conversations about Jesus.

We uncovered some key roles that media can have in activating a DMM in a particular context. The preparation and delivery of culturally meaningful content that awakens a community to DMM include:

  • Inviting and engaging potential persons of peace to respond to discussions exploring issues of values and life in the community. As these candidates respond, engage, and pursue answers to their spiritual hunger, they are invited into discipling relationships with DMM partners.
  • Introduce the community to exploring spiritual insights through sharing and discussing stories found in Scripture together in small groups comprised only of people from the community. In DMM, such a small group is called a Discovery Bible Study (DBS), focused upon discovering truth and obeying what’s learned.

Such partnerships between DMM ministries and media require close coordination to link respondents to mentors for discipling. As these DBS groups form, the strategy encourages participants to start new groups around the same stories. This multiplies the discovery of Jesus throughout the community in its own ethnic and cultural contexts.

As FEBC develops new strategies for reaching into peoples who have yet to hear about Jesus, DMM partnerships can be one strategy that results in growing numbers of disciples following  Jesus in the context of their community. There are still plenty of these people clusters around that FEBC is in a position to serve. My role as a facilitator is to introduce this and other strategies among FEBC ministries as they develop and produce their content. It is up to each FEBC ministry to embrace and implement the approach that will work for them.

When people desire to meet Jesus, He will show up, be discovered, and attract disciples to Himself. God, the maker of every culture, will reveal Himself in ways that only these new disciples can truly appreciate. When conversations start in the community, great things can happen.

For more information about Disciple Making Movements, check here.

Before the Snow Flies

Now, before anyone panics, let me assure you that the Bartzes are still in southeast Asia, where it never gets close to freezing, much less ever snows! However, my ministry responsibilities have me involved in a variety of projects all across the FEBC world. In the last several months, our ministry in central Asia has been expanding its reach into another part of Kyrgyzstan. Up in the highlands of this part of the world, snow matters. So it was critical that this particular project get done before now. Let me give you a glimpse of FEBC’s project around Issyk-Kul (“Hot Lake” in English) in eastern Kyrgyzstan, the world’s second largest salt-water lake.

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Janysh gets familiar with the translator’s new antenna

It’s a crisp October morning on the slopes of the western mountains near Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake, Issyk-Kul. The chill in the air is a persistent reminder that winter could be only days away. FEBC Kyrgyzstan’s director, Janysh, knows the time might be short, but he is ready. Today, he puts the finishing touches to a FM translator that will relay the broadcasts of OK Radio from Bishkek the capital city. By the end of the day another 300,000 potential listeners will be added to OK Radio’s audience. So just before winter sets in, the translator is indeed on the air.

During the past several months, this project has been a high priority across FEBC International. Funds for the project came from several FEBC offices. FEBCanada once again purchased and shipped the transmitter. Other vital equipment not available in Kyrgyzstan was ordered through FEBC-US with the guidance of engineers on FEBC’s International Service Team (IST). Bob from the IST project office worked with the region’s coordinator, Rudi, since the project’s inception to draft a comprehensive project plan. Each contribution was vital to ensure that the translator would be operating before winter.

Now the work really begins. For at least the next three years, Issyk-Kul residents will welcome a new friend into the region. Pray for the OK Radio team as they reach out and engage with their new listeners. For many living around the lake, it will be the first time they have ever heard the Good News.

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By now, the transmitter site overlooking the lake will be isolated for the next several months. As is often the case, the road up the mountain will be impassable due to the snow. But the residents around Issyk-Kul will have a new companion as they stay warm along the lake’s wind-swept shores. Pray for these new listeners, that they might also experience the warmth of God’s love.

Transitions to a New Normal

Moving across town is one thing. Moving to another state can be another. However, when moving halfway around the world into another culture, expectations can be quite misguiding. We’ve certainly experienced a few bumps (or should I say “adjustments”) in the last few weeks as we’ve been settling into our new home and work environment in the western suburbs of Jakarta, Indonesia. With each detour and diversion, we’re slowly learning how “things” work. I’m wondering if maybe the bumps aren’t just differences in expectations rather than shortcomings in various procedures.

While it has taken us some time, we are now pleased to report that our paperwork for being in the country has all been completed, We’ve been each granted a KITAS card that identifies us as temporary residents in the country. Another stamp in our passports indicates that we can travel in and out of the country freely. With all of these documents, signatures, and permissions in place, we are now pursuing the shipment of our personal effects from South Africa. We are hopeful that they will arrive about a month to six weeks from now. Pray that we will be able to coordinate the arrangements. I need to be back from my trip to Africa by the time the shipment arrives so it can be processed through customs in Jakarta.

We made the decision to purchase a vehicle (called “mobil”) for our own transportation needs. We found one suitable for city driving and have been working with the dealer to finalize the purchase. The car is all ready for delivery to us, except for one detail. The license has not yet been processed. Apparently, the local government office that licenses vehicles lost Internet access for the past several days so all license applications are on hold. Having an extra holiday in that time didn’t help. We remain hopeful that the car will be registered this week so we can take delivery.

Two weeks ago, the area in which we live experienced a three day water outage. It seems that the dry season here has been drier than normal and the rains are slow in coming. As a result, a number of areas across the country are experiencing water shortages. We ran out of water in our storage tank on day two, so were thankful when the water returned, unannounced, at the end of day three. We had two shorter outages since then, but nothing major. We’re looking forward to the rains coming to top up the municiple reservoirs.

No pictures yet, but workstation operational

We took yet another step to feeling at home this past week with the purchase of furniture for the office we use at our host, FEBC Indonesia. The office has mostly been used by visitors with borrowed furnishings from the local operation. Since arriving, Barb and I worked out a plan and received budget approval at the end of July for the additional hardware. With that, I ordered office furniture as well as the necessary computer accessories for my new office. With this in place, we’ll be able to focus more on our work. We’ll also be able to accommodate visitors and have sufficient privacy for meetings and conversations around ministry.

We started our language studies in earnest this past week, working with a tutor in Bandung, another city on the island of Java. We are taking lessons from her via Skype. We have study notes and lessons as well as lists of vocabulary words to learn and remember. My recall isn’t all it could be. We also need to be diligent in our practice of the language, even though we don’t know what to say immediately in nearly every situation. However, the intense focus of the lessons is making a difference even at this early stage. Continue to pray with us for diligence to grasp the language, persistence to practice speaking with those we meet, and patience for them as they try to understand what we’re saying.

We haven’t been the only part of the family in transition these days. A couple weeks ago, Nathan, our son, received a surprise phone call from a radio station in Harvey, ND. They were looking for an announcer that would also include local sports coverage of teams in the central part of the state. Nathan put together a couple of demos and was called for an interview. Liking his voice, the manager offered him the job starting later this week. So Nathan is going through his things and getting ready for this major shift to a new community. Please pray that this will go smoothly for him and that he can build new relationships after several years in Minot. We are all excited that he has the opportunity to pursue what he’s been dreaming of doing, being on the radio doing sports.

As you can probably tell, very few days have been the same. Each day has been one of adjustment, small joys while appreciating our new environment and building new relationships. As we get more settled, we’ll have further updates on how ministry is taking place here across Asia and the rest of the FEBC world.

A Meandering Entry

We have finally made it to Jakarta, Indonesia and are in the process of getting settled into our new home. While we knew this would be a process, we had a few more twists and turns along the way. We are indeed grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from the the staff here at FEBC who have been helping us work through many of the details.

Celebrating our visas on our way back to Jakarta from Singapore.

It took a bit longer than what we originally thought to get our visa. There was some confusion about the process that resulted in an extra trip to Singapore. After about three weeks of uncertainty, we were eventually rewarded with visas in our passports on July 13. Now that we are back in Jakarta, we are in the process of completing a number of other requirements to obtain documents we need to live in the country.

In the meantime, we’ve been able to find a home near the FEBC office in the western suburbs of Jakarta. With the assistance of Yaski staff, we found a suitable house within our budget that we could rent. The lease has been signed. We were able to move in at the beginning of July and are now setting up the home. We still have to wait for our shipment from South Africa, but with the help of the landlord lending some furniture to us, we are able to live in our subdivision rather than in a hotel.

Barb visiting with some of the ladies at the FEBC Indonesia retreat

In the midst of the moving, traveling, and settling, we were invited to participate in the Heartline staff retreat of FEBC Indonesia. This provided a good way for us to meet the staff in a more informal setting and start to get to know them. The two day event was filled with activities, meals, and sessions designed to help us interact with one another. It also reinforced our motivation to learn the local language!

In the weeks ahead, we have a number of prayer requests as we continue to settle into our new ministry roles here in Asia:

  • Pray for the completion of the rest of our documents that will allow us to be in the country. We cannot send our shipment or travel outside the country until these documents are obtained.
  • Pray for our plans to study the Indonesian language. We are working on an audio course at the moment but are considering more formal study, most likely with a tutor over Skype so that we can remain in our home .
  • Pray for our adjustment to the environment and culture. We are still in the process of learning our way around the area and how to transact business in shops and stores to purchase what we need. Just purchasing drinking water took longer today as many shops had run out over the extended holiday.

We are glad to be in Jakarta. As we adapt to the way of life here, we are trusting we will also build relationships with those around us. We are grateful for many of you back home who are helping make this all possible.