1. Planning the Broadcast
There is a temptation to think that because there is no opportunity to use our large professional and denominational programs, we should do nothing about being on the air. Remember that every station is looking for a good program, and if you plan carefully enough there is no reason why you cannot be the one to present that program.
Some reasons why you should present programs in your center:
- Our message is many-sided. Health, education, music, and stories provide opportunities beyond the straight presentation of gospel programs. In the Cook Islands no Adventist voice was heard on radio until recently. In fact, all attempts to place programs on the air had been rebuffed. Local mission president Gordon Lee agitated among the other mission bodies for a religious devotional broadcast (sponsored programs are not acceptable). A committee was formed and as a result we produce one in four of the daily broadcasts on the station.
- Your message, whatever it may be, will make you widely known. This is true in the Cook Islands program mentioned above, and before long, the quality and tone of the Adventist programs will set them apart from the others and it will become known who presents them.
- Evangelistically you will reap much good from these public-service programs. Our own church members can spread the word that their preacher is on the air at a given time. Soon the program becomes known.
In New Guinea we were among four bodies who were approached to produce religious programs on a new station. Our allotment of time was one broadcast each seven weeks and a daily reading from the Bible every four weeks. This allotment was accepted seriously, and every effort was made to utilize the time to the best advantage. As a result our program is now heard every four weeks and is held in reserve in case other programs are not ready or are not suitable.
So great has been the confidence of the New Guinea broadcasting authorities that we have been repeatedly invited to participate in programing on other new stations. What at first seemed a small opening now finds us on each of the four administration stations in New Guinea with promises that we shall be considered as the remainder of the planned twenty-one stations are opened.
The Problem of Equipment
There are problems in operating on these small stations with limited personnel and strained budget. Audiences are small, materials hard to find. Here are some of the problems and how they may be overcome.
Some are reluctant to move into programing because of poor equipment or no equipment. It is our experience that a program can be produced with one semiprofessional tape recorder and one directional microphone of good quality, which will eliminate many background noises. On this basis almost anyone can produce a program. Sometimes station facilities are made available, though it is generally more relaxing and builds for better programing if your own equipment can be used. Speech and music can be provided to the station on separate tapes with a continuity giving the station announcer his cue for the entry of each item. Breaks in music and speech can be indicated by splicing in 12-inch strips of leader tape. Of course, if two machines are available it is possible to put together a complete program.
When we started a program in Tonga recently, we used borrowed equipment. In New Guinea we started with the station's equipment. Most European homes have rooms suitable for recording. A large bedroom or lounge room can be all that is needed, and if recording is done at night there should be no problems. Remember, also, that many small radio stations have the same problems and your program will probably be no worse than theirs. Do not wait for equipment or studio facilities—use your ingenuity.
In New Guinea a good quality portable tape recorder is available that is shipped all over the territory with selected personnel. By this means we are building up a library of good indigenous music. The King's Heralds of the Voice of Prophecy have assisted with some native language music, but most areas have Adventist singers who will not only be acceptable but very popular. In a recent hit parade contest in Rabaul the top favorite was the Adventist choir from the Jones Missionary College singing a hymn! We have found storing such songs as we have on small individual reels a decided advantage. These can be spliced directly into the program and then taken out—without the need of dubbing.
Disks provide music also, but for best programing local singers and local music are important. Listeners love to identify themselves with the singers. They can do this best with their own people.
The Problem of Materials
One area solved this problem by putting themselves on the mailing list for H. M. S. Richard's sermons! In New Guinea, Uncle Arthur's The Bible Story is a source for the material on three of our Bible story programs being produced in the islands.
Often local rules will not permit the use of doctrinal material. In New Guinea the material is prepared by a European in one area and then adapted and presented by the national speaker. Any program produced on tape is preserved. No programs are destroyed. This gives a library to call on in case of sickness or absence.
In both Samoa and Tonga we have bilingual programs. In our Sydney studio we edit the regular Voice of Prophecy broadcast to twenty-three minutes. Each local area then gives a summary of H. M. S. Richard's message in their language. Tonga provides its own King's Heralds. The amount of local material is being progressively increased. It is hoped that ultimately a full half-hour program in the local language will be possible.
In Tahiti the education and religious programs produced by the French Voice of Hope are translated into Tahitian. In the Cook Islands, Dr. Clifford Anderson's "Your Radio Doctor" is translated and adapted into Maori.
Overcoming Problems of Local Regulations
In many areas no offers can be made of Bible courses. In one area every program must be submitted in quadruplicate for censorship before broadcasting. Purchasing of time is impossible in many areas.
These obstacles are a challenge to the minister, and in consultation with the radio-television department a way can usually be found around them. Radio and television are divinely given means of spreading the message. To have them with us and not use them is neglecting God-given facilities. Every wise and faithful steward will seek to use every talent, every means, in God's service. He is waiting for men of faith and talent and vision. In your area you may be that man. Why not step out in faith and see if God is leading you to become a microphone minister for Him?
II. Organizing the Local Bible School
With or without the broadcast, the Bible school offers the church a great potential. Diversity of languages, distance, and national pride make it essential that we operate many small schools rather than the one large central office. For many years in Australasia we operated just one Bible school, which cared for Australia, New Zealand, and the many Pacific islands in our territory.
1956 saw the beginning of a drive that has resulted in Bible schools being opened in all our major linguistic and national areas. Consider a typical situation. In 1958 it was voted to open a Bible correspondence school in Western Samoa, a small group of islands with a population of more than 140,000, the majority of whom had to be reached through the Samoan language. Rather than move immediately into typeset lessons, the junior course of the Voice of Prophecy was taken and translated into Samoan and mimeographed. Since then the lessons have gradually been printed. The staff for the school is small. One girl cares for the marking and dispatching of lessons under the experienced oversight of a national pastor. Each year this school is responsible for nearly half the baptisms in Samoa. A plan of work has been devised whereby our own people are used in fostering interests and maintaining their development. Key features in the successful development of this school have been:1. Simple and inexpensive basic requirements
Expensive and illustrated material is not necessary in an economy where the cash income is limited. Simple methods can be effective where they are accompanied by effective personal contact.2. Use of district depots
Mail is slow and uncertain in many mission field areas. This led Samoa into an experiment that has paid off handsomely and has been copied throughout our mission field areas. It is currently in operation in Fiji, Cook Islands, Tonga, and is being introduced in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. This plan involves the setting up of depots of lessons in centers throughout the territory of the mission. Lessons are stored there but are not marked at these centers.
3. Overcoming the mail problem
Laymen are used extensively to overcome the mail problem. Associated with each of the district depots is an experienced minister or mission teacher. He encourages our laymen to go out and enroll people in the courses. The layman gives the student the first two lessons and tells him he will be back for the completed lessons and to collect the quiz sheets in two weeks' time.
4. Constant contact possible
At the end of two weeks the layman picks up the test sheets. If these are not ready, he helps the student complete them. The layman becomes the postman, carrying lessons and test sheets to and from the district depot. If there are problems, he can help with them or report to the minister.
5. Between depot and Bible school
Bulk mailing of test papers is then made from the depot to the Bible school. Constant check is kept by the Bible school on the stocks held by each depot. Duplicate record cards are kept at the depot and the school so that each has an accurate check on a student's progress.
6. Graduation services
Each layman accepts responsibility for ten to thirty names which he has enrolled or received from other sources. The students are given early information of a graduation service on a definite date. Graduation services are always held on Sabbath at the local Adventist church, and an appeal is made for decision by the graduation speaker.
Very encouraging results have come from this plan, and we commend it to other areas. Within reasonable limits we have found that it is wise to duplicate schools rather than let one grow too big. When we faced a problem in the Eastern Solomons Bible School of too much work we split the school between the Western Solomons and the Eastern Solomons and started a new school. This has resulted in a doubling of our enrollments in the area with a consequent increase in baptisms.
Incentives for Students
Throughout our area of the world field we are making increasing use of incentives for our students. This aids greatly in our follow-up program. When the first lessons are sent to the student he is told that there is an award book waiting for him on the completion of a certain number of lessons. Each free offer is illustrated on a leaflet and described attractively. It is most interesting to find people eagerly awaiting the arrival of these books. No promise is made to mail the booklets.
When the time comes for an interest report to be sent to the conference or mission on a certain name, the promised book for the student is included with the report, and the radio-television secretary is asked to forward this along to the minister. Our ministers are then asked to personally deliver the promised book.
Advantages with this plan are several. First, it encourages the student to continue with the lessons until he has reached the stage where his progress can be reported. It also helps him to get over the hurdle of actually doing the first lessons. This plan has helped lift our percentage of students beginning courses from 30 per cent to 40 per cent and has increased the number of graduations.
Second, it provides the minister with an ideal reason to call. He has something that the student has been expecting with pleasure. Students appreciate the personal interest.
Third, it gives the minister excellent recommendation. He has the promised book from the Bible school. He must be associated with the Bible school. "I can trust this man," thinks the student.
Fourth, it places a responsibility on the minister to make an early call on the student. He has something that belongs to the student, the promised gift. This has served to assist in lifting our follow-up percentage and baptisms from these courses to the highest in the world field.
Fifth, it overcomes many of the problems associated with visiting children and youth. The minister arrives, not to catechize Johnny and Mary on the lessons, but to deliver the long-awaited book prize. He is on good terms with the parents and the child from the very first.
Such a plan as this can be easily financed either by the school itself or by the local conference or mission. Only those who are ready for a visit are involved. There is no waste of books or money, and the investment is small in comparison with the potential good.