I recently upgraded my computer to Windows 10. It’s a software update, but I do not like it. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be. I can’t find anything. It takes me longer to do the same jobs. Let us just say I am not a fan.
That might seem strange coming from someone leading a media ministry. Media platforms and delivery systems are constantly changing and upgrading. Within the context of Trans World Radio – historically, media has always meant radio. Media, or mass communication, has always included other mediums of communication including books, flyers, newspapers, television, and the internet.
Media has changed rapidly in North America and Europe. Technologies that people here are abandoning are simply skipped in favour of current changes in countries with more poverty and less infrastructure. Telephone land lines were never installed in many parts of Africa, but most people have access to the internet and a smartphone. Change is hard but inevitable when you want to stay relevant.
Before, to reach illiterate people the radio was one of the only ways you could reach them through mass media. Now, with the internet and other portable ways to store the content, video offers a new potential to share the Gospel.
As I am being reminded, change can be frustrating and often requires learning new ways to do the same thing. There is a learning curve, and sometimes I think I am getting too old to keep learning something new. But then a new opportunity comes and I get excited and embrace the learning anyway.
Some of the media platforms we are using:
The idea of sharing books as a computer file is not new, the concept has been popularly used for more than ten years. Now you can borrow books from the public library as an ebook. We are taking biblical children’s books and translating them into Mandarin and creating ebooks with them.
SD Cards and USB Drives
We have been using micro SD cards for more than five years in our portable media players so that listeners can have access to more interchangeable content. SD cards are small and easily shared. With our Discipleship Essentials ministry, we have uploaded video, audio and text-based content on portable USB or thumb drives. This is a tool for churches and church leaders and many are in remote areas. Downloading video content especially is nearly impossible – it would take days to upload a single video. These USB drives allow our partners to have the entire program of content and plug it into their laptop so they don’t need the internet at all.
Making content in various languages available online isn’t new to TWR. (visit www.TWR360.org ) We are now building apps that will make content for specific audiences available. For instance, we are working with other partners to have content available for refugees in Europe in Dari, Arabic, and Farsi. People can download an app when they have an internet connection, and then the content is stored on their phone so it can be accessed later without an internet connection.
TWR Canada has partnered with other ministries to help distribute Bibles and flyers for many years. Our Chinese Ministry has created a set of textbooks for their Seminary on the Air (SOTA) program. TWR has, over the years, had books written to document ministry history (Reaching Beyond Barriers and Towers To Eternity).
Now, we are funding the translation, printing and distribution of Christian books for discipleship in Burundi.
I am off to wrestle with Windows 10 again. Just a short post today. When I go out on ministry tours and often when we hear from people who support this ministry, there’s a misunderstanding about exactly what kind of media we use. Radio is still a big part of what we do, but we use a lot of different kinds of media appropriate to the situation and people involved.