the Oxford English Dictionary defines supplement as ‘a thing or part added to remedy deficiencies or amplify information.’ Supplementary programming has the role of filling in the gaps or meeting observed needs — as best we can — through the responsive use of radio.
FEBC's experience has been to exercise this role especially by providing radio programs that help, teach and encourage believers in situations where the local church cannot meet their needs.
This role is an ultimate test of radio's flexibility. It calls for us to set aside preconceived notions about what radio is good for and allows us to experiment with less-conventional uses of radio in response to specific needs
A clear illustration of this principle was the use of Bible dictation programs for China. In China's case it was driven by a specific need. Under communism Bibles were destroyed, imports were banned, and printing was prohibited. For a long time, the only viable means of getting scriptures to the mainland Chinese, apart from smuggling, was via dictation by radio. For 17 years Bible dictation was a regular feature of FEBC's broadcasts to China. In the studio one person dictated from one side of the table while a second person across the table wrote down what he said to make sure the reader kept to the right pace. In 1980 a well-known China researcher estimated that more than half the Bibles in China at that point were hand-written. It is a testimony to the effectiveness of a format (dictation) that we don't usually associate with radio programs.
Another aspect of this role came to light when we discovered that, for many listeners, Christian programs served as a church. Listeners in Japan would tell us so. Chinese house-church leaders declared it was so. Listeners in Russia for many years met in small groups around their radios, eliminating the need to register with the government (because they were not large enough).
Developing radio churches is not something FEBC has encouraged. They did not want to establish their own electronic church denomination. Instead they prefer to steer people toward their own local fellowship of believers. But while their underlying philosophy of Christian broadcasting stresses the need for seeing listeners brought to Christ and incorporated into a local fellowship of believers they also needed to recognise the reality. For various reasons, the reality is that many listeners have no local church fellowship, or don't have access to teaching or worship opportunities. FEBC is their church.
Responding to such needs in a responsible way extends beyond Bible teaching to include instruction on such things as how to organise a Christian fellowship group, teaching hymns or songs of worship. At the same time it encourages new believers to reach out to other believers or pray that God would put them in touch with others who are listening.
Last updated 16 Oct 2009
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