Category Archives: Worship

Worship Activities

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

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.

Renewing FEBC Connections

January 2015 marked some new beginnings in our family and ministry. The beginning of that month found us in Texas for the wedding of our daughter, Emily to her new husband, Alex Yamamoto. The day after the wedding also ushered in the next chapter of ministry for Barb and me. I began my new role with FEBC as Project Management Team Leader for the International Service Team (IST). We quickly ramped up our involvement in preparation for FEBC’s annual International Council Conference that was held in Bangkok, Thailand, at the beginning of February.

At FEBC Indonesia, Jimri (l.) will become the next director following Pak Samuel's (r.) retirement in 2016

At FEBC Indonesia, Jimri (l.) will become the next director following Pak Samuel’s (r.) retirement in 2016

As Barb and I boarded the plane from Minnesota to join the conference, we were looking forward to meeting so many of our FEBC friends and colleagues who are still ministering in Asia. Although we arrived at the hotel in Bangkok 18 hours later than planned, we were just in time to prepare for the events of the week. In addition to leading worship for the delegates, I was invited to present the process of project management as applied within the FEBC family. We were warmly greeted by many friends and colleagues we had met over the years during our earlier time in Asia. We also met some new leaders who will be instrumental in guiding FEBC through the coming years.

Following the leadership conference, the members of the IST met to discuss our plans and roles in the months ahead. With the dispersed nature of the team, living in a variety of Asian countries, Europe and the US, it was important to discuss how we work more effectively together. Barb’s role was clarified further during our discussions. She will be joining the Admin Team of the IST part-time, that helps manage the internal business and communications process for the team as a whole. Upon our return, she was appointed as its Team Leader while working closely with me to monitor and document projects throughout FEBC.

Guy West (l.) with the new 10 kW transmitter for Family FM

From Bangkok, Barb and I accompanied several members of the team to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where a major project had just been completed. The local station in the capital city, Family FM, was upgraded with a new 10 kW transmitter further extending its broadcasts. This is FEBCambodia’s first and, at present, only station in the country. While we were there, the transmitter completed its test broadcasts and began regular operation at full power. Already, the station is receiving reports from listeners of a clear signal more than 200 km (125 miles) from the capital.

There is still more development work to be done in Phnom Penh. The country continues its growth following its recovery from the difficult years of the 1970’s. FEBCambodia needs to take steps now to prepare itself for even greater ministry opportunities as today’s technology opens doors through social networking and internet broadcasting. The next project will involve a complete remodeling of their existing office facility to better engage with listeners and provide an efficient working environment for the staff. I will be involved in this project as the Project Director, working closely with National Director, Sopheary Hem, to ensure the rennovated building will meet the needs of future ministry.

A memorial housing the remains of many Cambodians executed under the Pol Pot regime

Part of our time in Cambodia was spent learning more about the country’s recent history and struggles. We were introduced afresh to those difficult years of 1975-1979 when the Khmer-Rouge attempted to set up a totalitarian regime. Fortunately those days are long gone, but the impact of that experiment still lingers today. We were both moved by the atrocities when we visited one of the “killing fields” where thousands of Cambodians lost their lives, executed during a time of purging under that regime.

For now, Barb and I have returned to Minnesota. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit to Asia in February, our visas to live in Jakarta, Indonesia had not yet been approved. We still await that approval before we can make further plans to relocate. Please join with us and pray for that process so that we can make this ministry move. In the meantime, I am fulfilling my projects role from the US. This is not ideal, as travel is difficult and costly. The time zone difference means sometimes working in the evening when our colleagues in Asia are beginning their work day.

Our financial support situation has improved since returning to the US. However, we are still lacking regular monthly supporters to cover our salary and other employment costs. Please continue to pray for us as we trust the Lord to meet our financial needs fully so that when we return to Asia we can keep our focus on supporting our Asian ministry teams. Your partnership with us has great potential to impact listeners across Asia with the gospel in the years ahead. If you would like to support us monthly, you can do so online at FEBC’s web site.

Caring in Crises

Over the past two months, I’ve been walking alongside three of TWR’s national partners here in Africa. Each of them have their own unique issues, but  also struggle to control their expenses amidst diminishing income. As a result, each of them has amassed some significant liabilites that now hover over their mnistry efforts like a growing storm cloud. I’m in regular contact with the  national directors of each partner. Most of those conversations focus around financial issues, how to reduce expenses in line with their current levels of income. Unfortunately, the difference is so large that it will require much more than just cutting a few administration costs.

Leading worship is one way I can encourage others in a time of crisis

The changes being proposed could affect staff in all three partners. Each financial recovery plan includes various measures that impact staff, either through salary reduction or being released from their duties. This can be an especially painful process as many of our staff don’t often have the resources to sustain their families beyond whatever payment TWR can provide. However, if we hope to remain effective in our ministry to listeners in each country, we must address the financial deficit to restore stability to an operation. Please pray for comfort and peace for those affected by the current crises. Please be aware that under the current circumstances, I cannot be any more specific than this.

There has been much interaction with these partners, both in-country and also here in South Africa at a recent partners’ conference. In each of these opportunities, I’ve been called upon to encourage others to turn their attention and focus toward God. There have been some amazing moments when God ministered to local staff and leadership in a time of worship or prayer. I often use music to create an environment for others to focus on God’s character. This has been particularly meaningful for staff in various locations. I’ve also found myself in some counseling situations, ministering God’s comfort and peace in the midst of the storm of the crisis.

I will appreciate your continued prayer for strength for our partners. Ask the Lord to also guide me as I not only work with the partners but continue to minister to many of the staff I meet along the way. My desire is that each affected staff will understand that God has not left them, but is walking right alongside them through this difficult journey.

Some Adjustments Required

In the engineering world, it seemed that 10% of our time and effort was spent on theory, setting our goals and envisioning how the laws of nature could make them happen. The rest of the 90% was then spent trying to get reality to line up with our theory and ambitions. There are just so many factors impacting our reality that, at times, one may wonder how anything can go according to plan.

We’re continuing to work through our adjustment phase here at TWR in Africa. Earlier this month, some changes occurred which impacted my role as the East Africa Area Ministry Director. The Southern Africa Area Ministry Director is currently exploring other ministry opportunities in TWR-Africa. In his absence, I am also being asked to coordinate TWR-Africa’s interaction with national partners in the southern region. This includes the countries of Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland and South Africa. I am familiar with several of these countries from my time with Feba Radio. I’ll be filling in until the time a new Area Ministry Director for the region can be appointed.

A good way to get to know the missionaries in Swaziland is grilling together around the braai (barbecue)

In my capacity in this coordination role, I returned to Swaziland earlier this month to meet with national director of Voice of the Church (VOC), TWR’s local ministry in the country. In addition to the broadcasts on the local FM network, TWR-Africa’s shortwave and medium wave facility there serves the rest of the continent. Barb also traveled with me as she met with several of the TWR missionary families in her responsibility of coordinating member care in TWR-Africa.

VOC operates a well-established FM radio network in Swaziland, airing a combination of locally  produced siSwati and internationally supplied English programs for listeners. The national director is interested in producing even more local content that is relevant to their listeners. There were a number of issues that the two of us will be following up in the weeks to come.

I have a number of other items on my to-do list that can use some prayer:

  • I’m coordinating TWR’s involvement at the upcoming Africa by Radio Convention in Nairobi, Kenya this September. In addition to arranging the approach to inform delegates about TWR, I’m also coordinating the technical track of workshops, moderating a technical forum, and presenting a workshop on tools for engaging with listeners.
  • The regional office of TWR-Africa is embarking on some training to assist staff with their project management skills. I’ve been asked to provide some assistance to the chief trainer given my background in managing projects in Asia and Africa.
  • Since my arrival, TWR-Africa has been incorporating more worship through music into its corporate activities. I’m involved in leading worship regularly for the staff in Kempton Park and also have the opportunity to serve at other TWR locations when I am visiting.

I still have much to learn about the processes and relationships within TWR Africa. I will appreciate your prayers as I engage more with TWR’s national leaders in east and southern Africa. I am asking God to give me a clear picture of what these relationships should look like to improve our joint ministry efforts in these different countries as well as empowering local leadership to respond to God’s leading in their own contexts.

Refined for Greater Effectiveness

FEBC and Feba Radio have a long and rich history together. Built upon the heritage of FEBC’s ministry in the Orient, in places like China and Southeast Asia, Feba Radio applied proven strategies to reach even more listeners throughout south and central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Indigenous  radio broadcasts, whether by shortwave or local FM, have not only delivered life changing information but also built relationships and introduced listeners to the transforming truth of Jesus.

Recently, 75 leaders of  FEBC’s and Feba Radio’s ministries from 27 different countries came together in Bangkok, Thailand for a week of celebration and reflection not only on the past, but also looking forward to the future. As the representative for Feba’s association in Mozambique, I had the privilege of participating in some important discussions concerning future ministry and closer cooperation to reach out even more effectively in our changing world. While radio remains an effective tool, particularly in more remote locations in our world, there are also many new opportunities for ministry across a wide array of media platforms. FEBC and Feba Radio are sensing the need to work more closely in evaluating and exploring ministry in an increasingly globalized world.

Bob led worship at the recent FEBC and Feba ICC meeting in Bangkok at the end of February.

The week in Bangkok was also a personally encouraging one for me. I had the opportunity to meet up with many friends from FEBC, something that doesn’t happen all that often anymore. I was also privileged to lead the worship times at the conference. There were several Thai musicians from FEBC Thailand that joined with me through the week. While communicating sometimes was challenging, the spirit of cooperation among the group was evident through the appreciation of various musical styles. All this worked to help the delegates focus on what God had to say to us all.

During the course of the week, a special announcement was made concerning leadership in FEBC in the US. Over the past 9 months, FEBC – US has been searching for a new president to replace Gregg Harris. I was encouraged to learn that Ed Cannon, former interim president of Moody Bible Institute, had accepted the position. Meet Ed through this video posted on YouTube. We are grateful for God’s provision for leadership of the ministry at this time. Pray that Ed will adjust quickly to his new role and that he will sense God’s direction with clarity and focus.