FAITH COMES BY HEARING

by Shirley W. Madany


"Are you encouraged by your work?" To that we reply: "Yes, we are!"

If ever one wanted to demonstrate an absolute reliance on preaching as the medium of bringing the Gospel to a group of people, which is what we have in radio missions, then we can say with assurance that we are constantly buoyed up by Paul's words in his first letter to the Corinthians:

"For since in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." I Cor: l:21 (NKJ)

I have in front of me right now several pages of translated letters from such varied countries as Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Nigeria. They were naturally some of the "special" letters which came to our attention and these listeners show without any shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts. They are "receiving" with joy the good news of salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

"I have received a copy of your commentary on Paul's Letter to he Romans, as well as your program guide. Thanks for all that you have done and may you continue to be as lamps which will shed light for the rest of us on our way, guiding all those who have gone astray and who are bewildered by life. May God help you to fulfil His word and to spread His faith among people so that justice, brotherhood and love may be found within society."

There is a spirit of tension and unrest in many parts of our field so that a message of "comfort" is well received. Every day there are killings as that struggle between radical and moderate forces of Islam escalates. "I am writing this letter at great risk to myself. For the last year and a half I have been regularly listening to your broadcasts. I would like to become a Christian but I fear the persecution which would occur should I make this known."

Others speak out more boldly:

"I have started to listen to you every night. I am very impressed by what you say and have learned so much since my discovery. Now I believe. In the past I was lost, living without a goal or principles. I don't go to sleep without first listening to you and availing myself of this spiritual food. Please send me a copy of the New Testament as well as your commentary on Romans. I want to walk on the right path. May God keep this program and all who are involved in its production."

How wonderful that God has provided us with this means of bringing spiritual food to hungry hearts! And even more wonderful that the Holy Spirit has gone ahead and prepared those hearts! Listeners expect to have a life-changing experience:

"After reading the contents of the tract which you have sent me I have initiated certain changes in my life. When the commentary on Romans reaches me I will be in touch with you to bring you up-to-date on the changes which will have taken place in my thinking."

Someone who had received the commentary remarked: "What a beautiful and valuable book! I have read it all and through it found the right path. I have begun to lead a new life thanks to the words found in it. I hear your broadcasts clearly and appreciate the instructions they contain. I wish you the blessings of the Messiah. Please send me a book about the proper way of worship and how to pray."

We, in America, have Christian books stores available to us. There are constantly new materials coming into our hands. Is it possible for you to put yourself in the position of the majority of our listeners (who must number in the millions)? They have no such opportunities to worship together or purchase the latest best seller on the Christian market. A listener in a very closed country wrote to express his deep thanks for "the lessons which explain the various books of the Bible in a regular and systematic way."

We could never tabulate the number of our listeners who have been uprooted from their homes--either living in another country or worse still, existing in refugee camps. They are in a perpetual state of "waiting" until their life can begin over again. How moving then to get the following comments from a refugee camp:

"I am a regular listener to Saatu'l Islah. It has brought me joy. Especially those programs which expound the Word of God. We feel a great hunger for such lessons and useful information which fill the soul with happiness and peace. We would like to thank the brother who expounds the Bible over Trans World Radio. We appreciate his style, his voice comes from his heart and enters the hearts of believers. Please send us all that you have for the nourishment of our minds and souls."

Quite often our hearts are sad because we can't send our heavier books into a number of Arab countries, but thanks be to God we have discovered a co-worker who is able to help us in this matter. Then we rejoice when we get a letter saying "Thanks so much for the parcel containing Family Worship. This valuable gift has enabled me to renew my relationship to God. Could I get another copy for friends?"

There is an expression that you can't "hug the whole world." But sometimes as we turn our attention rapidly from Morocco to Iraq, we feel that we are"hugging" the Arab world. It is nothing short of amazing to see the amount of mail coming from Iraq. We know that this has been one of the best receiver areas as the time of the broadcast is so good and it is heard clearly on a popular station every morning as people are waking up and getting ready for work.

"Dear brothers at Saatu'l Islah. Let me thank you for your useful program which alerts us every morning here in Iraq. It is good for the soul, the spirit and the mind. I am one of those who listen to your wonderful program every day, even though I am a Muslim."

Saatu'l Islah has been on the air for 35 consecutive years. People have heard it as children and grown up with it. They have migrated, or they have been busy with their careers. They have sent in their change of address, or as was the case of one young Egyptian: "I am sorry for the long delay in my answer. I was on active duty in the army and now I thank the Lord that this service is over and I am back home in peace. I have received several books from you and now I will be hoping to get another book which you mention every morning on your broadcast."

Groups and families listen and write. This is a new development and a very good sign. We find it most encouraging. Certain areas of our vast field are able to receive the broadcasts from both FEBA in the Seychelles, Indian Ocean and from the Cyprus outlet of Radio Monte Carlo. We call them our "most favored nations."

"To all of you who are spreading the heavenly messages and broadcasting the contents of the Gospel I am writing this letter with the prayer that God will give you success as you labor from the Seychelles. Ever since I discovered your station, I began to wait for the time of your evening transmission with happiness and eagerness. It is not only I who waits for this happy time but also my family and friends. We appreciate what you are broadcasting from the teachings of the Holy Gospel, especially as you share with us the life of the Messiah. Please send us any and every book you have published. May God keep you."

Happy is the word! Another listener in Saudi Arabia describes himself as "your happy listener." He is a resourceful co-worker on a spontaneous basis. He is in a position to share his radio with other people who stand around and listen and then have good discussions about the fifteen minute program they had just heard!

A common questions is: how do you do your follow-up? Whenever possible we share with other Christians working in the area but for the majority of cases we have to say that we do it by radio itself, and by a systematic mailing of our Arabic publications. We often wish that there was a more intensive effort made to study the Arabic language. Then the missionary could use the same initiative and could himself be a steady listener and hence recommender of the broadcast. It would make for a greater link between the two persons as they could discuss the current Bible study or the Sunday sermon in more depth.

Here are some of the questions that you would run into. After just picking up one Bible Study, No. 342 in a long series of 636 lessons, one eager Saudi asked the following questions:

"Would you mind sending me your Family Worship book and could you give me more details about the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. I would also like more details about Jesus the Messiah and his miracles. And what is this great work which the Messiah accomplished on the Cross of Calvary. You said that the Messiah rose from the dead on the third day and that was the miracle of miracles and that he has built for us a mighty fortress which not even the power of hell can overcome. How can you prove to me that Adam failed in the first trial in his life? What do you mean that he fell into sin and that it has had an impact on all those that have descended from him? What is the real message of the Messiah. What proof do you have that the Messiah is the Bread of Life and the Water of Life? I would certainly appreciate if you can explain all these matters to me."

If this young man has continued to listen as we have gone through the Bible explaining verse by verse, he will eventually get his answers.

Once in a while one of our listeners makes it to the western world. Should he have had the misfortune to have lived in the part of the world where our books are not delivered we are able to send him a complete set with joy on our part and his. The other day we had one such letter from Stockholm, Sweden from an Iraqi who said:

"How great was my happiness when my little radio enabled me to hear a voice I had known a long time ago: the voice of Saatu'l Islah. I used to listen to you when I was in Iraq, then in Iran, and after that in Jordan. Now I can hear you in Stockholm! Really I was longing to hear you after arriving here in Europe. Now I am living in an atmosphere of freedom from fear. Now I can ask for any literature and be sure that it will reach me. I am trying to rebuild my own library and I come to you and ask for help in reaching this goal. Please accept the expressions of my thanks to all of you at work in this broadcast ministry. May God keep you as you work for Him in the spread of the Christian faith."

These snatches of letters speak for themselves. Indeed, we have every reason to be encouraged by what God is doing through our combined efforts. We praise God for faithful supporters who make this possible and for devoted staff members both here at home and at the various missionary radio stations. "Faith comes by hearing."


Return to list of Articles

Return to Middle East Resources home page