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.
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.
When we work in partnership with organizations around a common goal, there are some unique events that mark the journey. I would not have thought that working on a community radio project in Mozambique would bring me to Norway. However, at the gracious invitation of our partner in the Radio Wimbi project, Ibra Norway, Narciso and I traveled to Oslo to meet with our key partners at Ibra.
There were two reasons the meeting was held in Norway. Narciso and I were already in the UK the previous two weeks discussing what Narciso has been learning while meeting with community groups in Pemba. It was a short journey over to Norway from there. Air fares are far more reasonable in Europe than they are in Africa! My African counterpart at Ibra Media, Jan-Erik, is also back in Finland this summer for a period of home assignment. Meeting in Norway was the best way we could all get together to build on the momentum growing in Pemba. It also enabled Ibra Norway (our host for the meeting) to be more directly involved in project development, besides raising funds for the station.
Our three days of discussions focused on developing a draft program strategy for Radio Wimbi. Based on the findings Narciso brought to the group, we worked together to describe what programming would be required for the community station to meet its goals and objectives. From these guidelines we brainstormed a draft of a multi-lingual 24 hour program schedule. We also assisted Narciso in outlining what resources and help he would need to implement this schedule and produce the programs.
Continue to pray for Narciso and his family as they get ready to move to Pemba. The original move didn’t happen as planned last April due to visa problems for him to go to Europe for these meetings. He’s now making final preparations at home before moving north. One thing is certain, Narciso is eager to get back to work on the project in Pemba.
The holiday season is behind us now. Nathan and Emily returned to the US so life picked up again in a hurry. My year started off with a quick visit to Feba in the UK to focus on the year ahead. Now it’s off to Pemba, Mozambique to encourage those working with the Radio Wimbi project.
A key component of this next visit will be to review and consolidate the vision and direction for the radio station in Pemba with the local association. It’s been some time since some preliminary work was done. Much has changed since 2009 so we are planning a three-day workshop with the local association to review the vision and goals of the station in light of what we know today about the community. I’ll be working with Jan-|Erik Nyman of Ibra Media to help our partners learn about the tool of radio, how to use it effectively, and establish some parameters and goals for the design of the station. We’d appreciate your prayers in this process. Some exciting developments are unfolding with technical aspects of Radio Wimbi. The work to design the station, its transmission and studio systems is underway. One of the many challenges faced in community radio is the difficulty in securing broadcast equipment that works reliably in adverse conditions while still keeping the costs manageable. I’ve recently been in contact with Schweitzer Engineering Labs, a manufacturer of electric utility protection equipment in the US. They have agreed to donate an industrial grade computer system to Feba Radio. This system is rugged and reliable, designed to operate for ten years in many difficult conditions. We’ll be using this computer system as the primary broadcasting computer, playing out programs to air and also helping Feba technical personnel keep watch over the station remotely to address technical problems as they arise. The computer has now been ordered. Once it arrives, Graham Kimber, Feba’s development engineer in Africa, will be putting the entire system together. I will appreciate your prayers as I work with Narciso Zandamela, our project coordinator in Pemba. Progress has not been as far as we had hoped. We’ll be taking a closer look at our planning and identifying the important and critical tasks that Narciso needs to prioritize to keep the project on track. I should have more to report when I get back.
The development of community radio stations continues in northern Mozambique. Feba Radio has been working with Ibra Media to bring community radio to Pemba, a port city in Cabo Delgado province. The station will be called Radio Wimbe (waves in Makhuwa, a local language). Pemba is not only the capital of the province but also a gateway into the people groups in that region. All three major languages (Makhuwa, Makonde, and Mwani) of the province are represented in and around this natural bay.
Progress with the station development has been slow. It’s taken some time to develop a local association (members of the community) to support the application for a license. The initial vision for the station is in place. Preliminary planning, including the purchase of property, designing the studio facilities, and a baseline media survey, is under way.
Most importantly, relationships with the local community need to be developed to get them involved in “their” station. It is easy to get impatient, rush toward obvious signs of progress , and leave the community behind. When that happens, they feel left out and fail to accept the station as their own. I am beginning to understand how important it is to involve the residents of Pemba early on in the project and find the right people to lead the project forward.
During a recent trip to Pemba to work on the project, I had the opportunity to travel along the shoreline where the city meets the mouth of the bay. There were many people out that day, enjoying the sun, sand and surf that is Pemba. As we were driving along the shore, I noticed a beach volleyball game going on. I’ve seen this in many different contexts but what made this unique was the ingenuity of how they played the game. The participants had their ball and net but no poles! Each team selected a team member to raise the net into position each time the ball crossed from one side to the other. However, the height of the net was not consistent as each human pole tried to adjust the height to the advantage of his team. It was an amusing experience to observe, but also gave a glimpse into how a community worked together to enjoy some friendly competition.
It is this kind of uniqueness Radio Wimbe needs to capture. That can only happen through close connections with the community and its involvement in the station. This involvement needs to take place now, even as the plans for the station are still under development. Please join us in praying for these important relational issues. Pray for individuals from Pemba who have a good understanding of the community to join with us in this project. Pray for positive interaction with local officials and leaders such that they see the benefit of having their own radio station. Pray for my role in the team to encourage and mentor local champions to be the driving force behind the station.