I had a very satisfying and encouraging visit with the leadership staff of Voice of Love (FEBC) Cambodia in mid- June. There were a number of action items as part of the visit. My main goal was to continue in person a review of their progress against strategic plan goals that I had been working on via email with Field Director Makara. The strategic plan is aggressive and calls for reaching each locality of Cambodia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have made significant progress over the last 18 months.
To reach all of Cambodia a combination of media channels including radio, player boxes, streaming audio, audio on demand, social media and staff visits will be needed. In the coming months pray as the team seeks to expand their listener base through upgrade of a translator station in Kampong Thom, expanded player box distribution and an experimental effort to recruit new listeners to our on line platforms in several provincial cities.
In addition to the strategic plan review, I took the opportunity to train and work hand in hand with the management team on some basic project management skills in order to encourage deeper planning discipline and a more organized approach. This kind of short teaching combined with side by side work/coaching provides groundwork and practice in skills along with making progress in planning out areas of strategy that have not yet received a deep review.
Most organizations are able to execute project work and day to day operations but are challenged to do a good job of project definition. I encourage the question “what will this look like/include when it is done?” Training in the discipline of creating a work breakdown structure puts a tool for good definition in the hands of the staff. Teaching, coaching, encouraging and reinforcing all lead to slow steady uptake of business skills. This is one of the ways that I can add value to our project and strategic planning processes and the ability of our field staff to use them.
In addition to the work with strategic planning and coaching in planning methods I was able to work on the details of the Kampong Thom project and also did my part to hold another Amateur Radio Exam Session at National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia. We had an NPIC teach pass the test as a new technician class ham.
Talas, Kyrgyzstan is the location of FEBC’s newest FM station.
Thanks to the all our partners. Now your ministry reaches to the depth of Kyrgyzstan, TALAS. This region is very difficult and spiritually tense. There till now, there is shamanism, occultism, sacrifice for the spirits of dead people. Islam is spreading in the same place, and now the Truth of the Gospel will come there.
FEBC’s fourth station in Kyrgyzstan has officially been launched in the city of Talas, an important regional hub in the northwestern part of the country. The new station is set to reach a potential 250,000 people. This is the fourth station of six in a plan to spread the gospel via radio through all of Kyrgyzstan. The new station will be led by Rev. Ulanbek Karypov, a Talas local.
During a recent visit to Talas, Rev. Karypov met with some old friends to share the gospel and talk about FEBC’s goals for the new FM station.
“I could see a real hunger in their eyes for the Good News of salvation,” he said. “People need Jesus more than anything. We hope that our radio station will introduce Christ to these people who are drowning in darkness. They need to hear the Good News, believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and follow Him.”
Guy and the rest of the Engineering Service Team have enjoyed their technical consulting role and their role in assisting with major purchases for the station expansion in Kyrgyzstan. The work they do, though vital to a well built station, isn’t something that regular people, even those who work in the studio will see. But the local engineer and the EST know what it takes to get a strong signal to people who need to hear about Jesus. As each person shares their faith, love for the Lord and God given skills the Kingdom grows.
With the retirement of the former director of FEBC Thailand your prayer support becomes critical. Transitions in leadership are always a challenge and give our enemy a chance to oppose the ministry. Please pray for new FEBC Thailand field director Noppakhun as he works to encourage the staff, stabilize funding and keep the many Transnational Ethnic Tribal Language broadcasts that he supervises going strong.
With your prayers and financial support behind me we are able to make a consistent effort to provide business advice, consulting, organizational help and especially friendship and encouragement to Noppakhun Prasobkiatkit the new Field Director of FEBC Thailand. It is an understatement to call this a bumpy transition and continued support including my presence physically and via today’s modern communication channels is making a difference. Nopp has a spectrum of problems to deal with urgently including encouraging the staff, growing the field’s financial support base, maintaining tribal language production in 16 different languages and meeting all the many partners of FEBC Thailand who he is expected to work with.
Nopp, a tribal ethnic language producer within FEBC Thailand for a number of years, is the best choice to ensure the ministry moves forward, but he faces a steep learning curve. FEBC International with your help has committed my help in providing business coaching, financial review and support, assistance with funding proposals and liaison with other funding partners that support the ministry.
In conjunction with Ed Cannon, FEBC USA President and FEBC International Chairman and Kevin Keegan, President of FEBC Australia and FEBC International Executive Committee point of contact for this work, I am spending a lot of time and travel making sure that this ministry continues strong. It is going to be a regular travel destination for me over the next few months.
I had just started to walk into the men’s room (hopefully) near my departure gate at the airport in Yangon, Myanmar. After checking the signage and seeing fairly identifiable male/female outlines I turn to the men’s side and freeze in my tracks. There is a young woman coming out of what I thought was the men’s room! I back up, take a look towards the signage and realize that I am seeing her reflection in the newly cleaned mirror of my bathroom while she is walking out behind me from hers. Probably she is wondering why I am backing up and looking panicked.
As I head on in to what actually is my side it occurred to me that I have had or heard of a lot of funny things that have happened around the issue of bathrooms in other cultures and places over the last 20 years of international ministry. I won’t be delving into the ones involving TMI – too much information, and will keep in mind that there are things you cannot simply Un-see even in imagination.
My first though was of an evening outing about 8-10 years ago to see Carmen performed in Ulaanbator, Mongolia. I went with the able coaching and assistance of David and Jan Bayliss who were residing in the city while working with Field Director Batjargal and the staff of FEBC, Mongolia. I headed for the bathroom while David and Jan held onto our seats. I kept wondering if I was going the right way as I went down a hall and then down a couple of ramps, not unlike trying to get out of a major football stadium. I was the only one going down and one after another small groups of ladies kept streaming up the ramp towards me.
As I approached the sinks, I am still the only guy, till one finally walks out from the left row of “cubicles” and I realize its only those that are separated between the two half’s of the bathroom area and the sinks are shared. The opera was excellent, but it was my first time and I was confused. “It’s never over till the fat lady sings” is the old adage in the USA, but there weren’t any thin ladies singing at all. I had to depend on Jan to let me know when it was over.
Like every other aspect of life, those who don’t travel to foreign places think there is only one right way to build a bathroom, a toilet, to “clean up”, and then when you travel you find out that there are several broadly followed plans: the outhouse, the toilet, and the squatty potty. “Cleaning up” is TMI. Even the toilet itself, the ones embodying the phrase “porcelain throne” have different idiosyncrasies in different places. In Japan, they want everyone to be happy with the facilities and are sticklers for getting every detail right. That’s why we all love the cars they design. In Tokyo airport, you can pick between the squatty, the regular toilet and the one with all the bells and whistles.
The fancy electronic toilets have heated seats built in water sprays that are adjustable for pattern, angle and temperature to aid the cleanup process and come with somewhat elaborate buttons and controls on an arm to the side. One thing they almost never include, however, is english subtitles for the oriental language deemed proper at any particular location the toilet is installed. Chris saved me from failing with these new gadgets by having a troubling experience in the electronic toilet in the airport at Narita, Japan. She couldn’t figure out how to make it flush. She tried the controls, could spray water around and even get it to make incredibly loud, realistic flushing noises, but no flush.
When I had the same problem at FEBC Korea, I immediately assumed she had tried all the controls and after some thought took a look at the bigger picture. There, just as you might expect on a regular toilet was a flush lever, manual style, above all the fancy controls on the control arm on the toilet tank. So after messing with all the controls in your jet-lag induced state of mind, remember my blog post and look for the flush lever as usual. Or read the instructions.
In closing, and avoiding TMI, I can say that I have been forced by circumstances and travel destinations to try all of the approved methods of clean up and all of the different types of facilities. My advice is to pack toilet paper with you just like your water bottle when you travel. Yes, you can use the squatty potty, but I recommend you practice in the hotel room first, before you have to do it out in the public bathroom. Hint – with the squatty you want to get your pants in just the right spot……
What happens back home when I am away? My first hope is that all of you are praying for Chris, and if you are local friends, helping her out! My other hope when traveling in the spring is that the snow falls and then melts to get it out of the way before I come back. After over 15 years living in the tropics I say, “I am so done with snow!” The ICC trip in April kept to these “rules” with several snow events. Chris was not impressed.
Where is James when you need him to shovel? In Georgia or Tennessee. Much too far to call home for a little work.
Also, when “dad” is gone there is a lot of moping around by certain parties, no one to rough house with:
Of course when dad gets back those same parties take a while to forgive for the long absence.
Going on the trip is the easy part. With all the focused, intense work there isn’t much time or energy left to miss anything at the end of the day and the jet lag induced “fall asleep at 8pm whether you like it or not” state helps too. For Chris at home it’s very different. The routine of life makes the time pass slowly and the trip seem extra long. She is the one who really makes the sacrifice.
I have two sayings about marriage, “it’s best to marry a saint”, and “it’s better to be lucky than smart.” We didn’t get married almost 34 years ago because we wanted to spend time apart. For ordinary purposes the travel schedule would be too much, but for a season, for the Lord Jesus, its a sacrifice we can make.
Your prayer and financial support make you a significant partner in the ministry as FEBC broadcasts a number of languages into remote tribal areas using large transmitters and even larger antennas located in Iba and Bocuae, Philippines. Most of the programming broadcast is recorded secretly inside our creative access and closed countries by local pastors and programmers then sent to the Philippines by internet.
The pastors and programmers visit the remote areas where our listeners live, often traveling for days from village to village spreading the good news of the Gospel. On a recent visit the staff reported 2 new tribal language listeners received Jesus
“Yesterday. A new language listeners come to a small church in mountain. They want to see the radio programmer. Some of them requested to receive the Lord. The programmer said to me. There are many people listening a good news on radio. so he bought some radios to give.”
In this particular language and place our broadcaster’s life is in danger because he shares the Gospel in his own heart language to his own tribe. Pray for the safety of all our programmers and pastors working in dangerous areas and pray that FEBC will continue to see the harvest of fruit for the kingdom of God everywhere that listeners can hear our programming.
According to my records we are currently providing content to listeners in 109 languages reaching people in 49 different countries using AM, FM, Short Wave, audio on demand, mp3 player boxes, live streaming and via many social media channels all in order to communicate the Good News among the nations by media, to inspire people to follow Jesus Christ.
Your support of “Radio” ministry in the modern day is something much broader than AM, FM and ShortWave broadcasts. To quote a now somewhat dated commercial, “this isn’t your parent’s radio.” At FEBC most of our languages have a broadcast, a web stream, audio on demand download and increasingly an App for smartphone that lets listeners find the content they want and form relationships with our country/language ministries via social media. A good example of an on line web presence that will ask if you want to get the App for your phone is our new Cantonese local web radio offered by FEBC Hong Kong: SooRadio.net.
As of today, FEBC has more than 38 languages with streaming or audio on demand web services and at least 20 languages where the ministry has deployed a smart phone App. I use the word at least because this area of ministry development is happening so quickly and in so many countries that my information is always behind the times.
And it isn’t just the big languages with a web presence. With the ability to use templates provided by major app platforms even our tribal languages can mange to have Apps and a web presence. You know kids these days always have a smart phone in their hand and they can watch or listen to any content they want. We all work to promote professional content development by our fields and language teams so that they can compete with secular media for the clicks, likes and downloads that measure ministry effectiveness today.
FEBC is still committed to AM, FM and ShortWave radio too. Each of these different media channels is effective in its own right and when targeted to appropriate language and cultural groups. Even in the late 70’s, FEBC was focused on Short Wave radio as the only channel that was available in most of the areas where we work. Now the first step in planting a new radio/web/social media ministry is to do an on the ground survey to find out what where the target population goes in terms of media channels for their news, information and entertainment. Using that information we can target a mix of effective channels to use in reaching that group for the gospel. The goal is to be fruitful and efficient in ministry as we seek to reach people from every tribe and tongue and nation. Thank you for supporting Chris and I, and FEBC International, as we pursue that goal.