Global Prayer: Lifeblood of Lifeword

Lifeword Board member Tommy Wallace, former Lifeword Singer Judy Wallace, Laurie Bearfield and Paul Bearfield, Jr. enjoy visiting before the livestream begins.

Lifeword Board member Tommy Wallace, former Lifeword Singer Judy Wallace, Laurie Bearfield and Paul Bearfield, Jr. enjoy visiting before the livestream begins.

By Holly Meriweather
Lifeword Walk for the World National Coordinator

Leading up to Lifeword’s Fiftieth Anniversary, Donny (Parrish, BMA Productions Chief Creative Officer) and I talked quite a bit about a way to honor our unique media ministry, those whom God has used to spread the gospel through it, and the countless supporters during these fifty years. The goal was a lofty one, and we wanted to do it well.

September 4, 1965. Leading up to that date, there were prayers sent up by many faithful people. At first by two men, Harold Morris and Ashford Conrad, then by pastors and members of the following Missouri churches: Trinity in Florissant, the Cane Creek Association, Chambers Park in St. Louis, and Thirty First Street in Kansas City, all of whom gave generously to the radio ministry along with their prayers.

In fact, Harold Morris’s first short article about the new St. Louis radio broadcast mentioned the word prayer four times. He wrote, “We are truly convinced that by the radio we can not only reach and challenge our churches to a great world-wide missionary endeavor, but that we can also effectively

George Reddin and Reba Luck greet each with a hug as Missions, Lifeword and DiscipleGuide staff members look on.

George Reddin and Reba Luck greet each with a hug as Missions, Lifeword and DiscipleGuide staff members look on.

reach many in our nation with the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you read this article, if you share with me this conviction, I would appreciate …your prayers and support for this endeavor.” A man with great vision and conviction, he knew that prayer support was critical.

So a Global Prayer Meeting seemed to be the most appropriate way to honor the prayers of so many and thank God for his blessings. Prayer has been and always will be the lifeblood of Harvest Gleaner Hour/Lifeword.

September 4, 2015. One hundred people worldwide and fifty people at the BMA Global Ministry Center watched the Fiftieth Anniversary video and heard the prayers of Executive Director Steve Crawley, former Executive Director George Reddin and Paul Bearfield, Jr., son of former Director Paul Bearfield. In the last week and a half, one hundred more people have watched it as well. If you would like to see the livestream from that day and listen to those prayers, go to the Lifeword Facebook page and share it with others.

We would still echo Harold Morris’s plea today: Learn about, pray for and support Lifeword, especially on Lifeword Sunday, October 25. Join BMA churches everywhere and sponsor a Walk or Walk event in conjunction with Lifeword Sunday OR use Lifeword Sunday as an emphasis day in your church. To get

After the Global Prayer Meeting, George Reddin, Paul Bearfield, Jr., and Steve Crawley pose for pictures.

After the Global Prayer Meeting, George Reddin, Paul Bearfield, Jr., and Steve Crawley pose for pictures.

involved (or “re-involved”), contact me at holly@lifeword.org , 501-205-1127 or go to lifeword.org to register your church and begin the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donny Parrish and Nick Jacobsen (BMA Productions) relax after directing and taping the lifestream.

Donny Parrish and Nick Jacobsen (BMA Productions) relax after directing and taping the lifestream.

Twenty-five Years of Broadcasting the Gospel to the Middle East

(The following is an excerpt from Rick Russell’s September/October mission:world article about a very relevant topic that is also an important part of Lifeword’s history…)

Originally going on the air in 1942, the station now known as Radio Monte Carlo was the official voice of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich throughout southern Europe, North Africa and the entire Middle East. It was forced off the air in June of 1944 when the invasion of southern France sent Nazi broadcasters fleeing from Allied forces. The abandoned studio building, transmitter and antennas remained in disrepair until the early 1960s when Paul Freed’s Trans World Radio (today’s TWR) struck a deal with the government of Monaco to rebuild and modernize them in exchange for use of the signal during the nighttime hours. It subsequently became the national voice of tiny Monaco and one of the most widely heard international radio signals in the entire world.

Charlie Costa and his media associate record in Lifeword studios.

Charlie Costa and his media associate record in Lifeword studios.

When Lifeword began its ministry nearly fifty years ago (September 4, 1965) as Harvest Gleaner Hour, founder Harold Morris’s intent was that it would become a voice that would share the gospel with the entire world. It’s fascinating to read Morris’s reports to the churches of the Baptist Missionary Association from those early days. While he certainly reported on the reality of the present outreach, he was always challenging BMA Baptists to reach out by faith and take advantage of the newest technology that was available.

Since satellite technology was in its infancy in the mid-1960s, Morris dreamed vividly of using that technology and noted those dreams in his reports to the association. HGH’s third broadcast language was in Arabic (English and Spanish were the first two.) and the broadcast speaker for the Arabic language Hour of the Harvest was Joseph (Yusef) Costa, then a missionary from First Baptist Church in Blackwood, New Jersey, to the Arab community in Philadelphia.

Beginning as a weekly fifteen-minute radio broadcast on Radio Monte Carlo, the creative teaching style of Yusef Costa began to boom out across the Middle East from the superpower TWR (Trans World Radio) signal of Radio Monte Carlo in 1980. At the death of Yusef Costa in 1989, his son Charles Costa took over the Hour of the Harvest microphone and continues his father’s work to this day.

In response to the Gulf War in 1990, a new short format gave Charles Costa the ability to quickly prepare special messages to the people of Iraq. assuring them that the war was not an action aimed at the Iraqi people, but was, as he says, “designed to help topple the cruel regime that had held them in fear and bondage for decades.”

Iranians and Afghanis take a great and justifiable pride in their people’s unique place in history and the fact that they speak Persian (also called Farsi) not Arabic. About ninety percent of Afghanis are of Persian descent. Because of that fact and since Christianity is forbidden, in September of 1996 Lifeword started its first Persian/Farsi programming in Iran. It remains a critically important evangelistic tool in a society where literacy rates were and continue to be at very low levels, especially among women, and most people had never even seen a Bible. (It is a capital offense just to hand a Muslim a copy of the Christian Scriptures.) Again, the program was broadcast on Radio Monte Carlo.

In 2000, realizing that the Arabic world had more than forty hours per week of quality gospel teaching programming aimed at Arab believers, Lifeword shortened its broadcast from a fifteen-minute Bible teaching format to a more contemporary, one-minute dialog format that took direct aim at Arabia’s lost population of about 200 million. Listener comments quickly reassured us that we had made the right decision.

Early in 2001, ministry partners at Trans World Radio asked Lifeword to develop a program to disciple new believers in Iran. Revival was breaking out there, but since the government was (and still is) adamantly opposed to Christianity, new believers were shunned by Christian churches due to harsh penalties and the fact that Iran’s government regularly placed spies in Christian congregations to insure that new converts were not made.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks on American soil and barely six months following the decision to create a discipleship program called In the Master’s Workshop, nearby Afghanistan was seared into our consciousness as the hunt for the attack’s perpetrators began. We realized that thirty-five percent of Afghanis speak Dari, a language so closely related to Persian that they could also understand our Bible reading programs and the new discipleship program.

A Twenty Year Legacy

IMG_1237By Holly Meriweather
Lifeword

Almost twenty years ago, Peruvian Paul Tinoco heard a Lifeword Spanish broadcast, El Contacto Cristiano and was so “moved by the preaching, the type that makes you feel a fire burning inside,” that he wrote a letter to Lifeword. After receiving Tinoco’s letter, Ricky Robinson reached out to the late James (Jimmy) Swindoll, who at that time was the nearest BMA missionary serving in Bolivia, and asked him to visit Tinoco, who was touched by Swindoll’s personal, follow-up visit.

Later, Swindoll and missionary Jerry Kidd returned to Peru to meet Tinoco. In the following years, American missionaries Marvin Lloyd and Thom South and Bolivian missionary David Flores took part in the ordination of Paul Tinoco as pastor and missionary. At some point during the two decades that followed, David Dickson (Puerto Rico) continued to oversee and encourage the growing Peruvian work.

Two decades later in July of this year, Luis Ortega was able to witness God’s work in Peru through Paul Tinoco when they served alongside a Baptist Medical Missions International (BMMI) team in several villages, including the community of Picoy. The mayor of Picoy was among those who made professions of faith. An enthusiastic new convert, his salvation put him in a particularly difficult position in his largely syncretistic (merging of several religions) tribe, because every year one of his major duties is to fundraise for and plan a large pagan worship celebration for the community, a celebration that now goes against his Christian faith.

Following his conversion, a dialogue began with the mayor as a result of this collaborative team effort, and he offered a piece of land to Lifeword for the installation of a Community Radio (LPFM) station. The granting of permits and licenses is necessary for this small radio station, which will complement the ministry of local BMA missions that is reaching out to the community of Picoy with evangelism and discipleship.

Lifeword’s involvement in Peru is continuing to expand beyond Picoy. During Luis’ travels in Peru with Paul Tinoco, the Asháninkas, a native tribal group, requested the installation of Lifeword radio stations for their villages. Tribal leaders of the Asháninkas indicated that there are more than 100 communities (of people in that tribe) up and down the river and throughout the Peruvian jungles and mountains. Lifeword and BMA Peru are in dialogue about further partnerships to reach out to this people group, which is perhaps the second largest (after the Quechua) in Peru.

God has blessed the work in Peru, which began with Bro. Paul Tinoco’s letter to Lifeword and continues through the efforts of BMA Missions and Lifeword. It is a twenty-year legacy of faith, collaboration and prayer.

Please join Lifeword in prayer for the following: partnerships with the Ashaninkas, the newly-converted mayor of Picoy, permits and licenses that need to be granted, and plans for Community Radio to come to fruition within a year. As always, Lifeword’s desire is that more people will profess Jesus as Lord, become disciples, then disciple-makers.

Community Radio Program at Philippine Bible College

Lifeword Asia-Pacific Director Bro. Pete Etabag instructs his BMA Bible College class on using Community Radio (LPFM) equipment.

Lifeword Asia-Pacific Director Bro. Pete Etabag instructs his BMA Bible College class on using Community Radio (LPFM) equipment.

A new Community Radio training program is now part of the curriculum of BMA Bible College of the Philippines. Beginning this year, future pastors and lay leaders from all over Asia will be trained to use this effective tool as a part of their formal ministry educations.

Bro. Pete Etabag, a Lifeword broadcaster since 1975, taught the first Multimedia class on June 15th in Talisay City, Philippines, training students with the technology that they can use to enhance their ministries after graduation from Bible College.

Bro. Pete says, “For now, we have installed four LPFM stations, three in Negros Island and one in Leyte. As this ministry expands, I admit that I will not be able to do all the installations, not only because of age but for the reality that it would be too much for me to handle. Spreading this technology to others will not only help me of the burden but also to speed up the field of coverage. I am happy that Lifeword saw the need for this project and has given financial support for the equipment to be used in this training. BMA Bible College will partner with Lifeword in providing the studio and other facilities for this training.”

The studio will also be used for internet broadcasts that will be beamed towards Vietnam, China, Thailand and other Asian countries. There are two Chinese students, one Vietnamese and one Thai student who will be broadcasting in their own languages to reach their own people and will eventually be equipped to continue the work when they return to their countries.

Spritword Recording

Rick Russell, Eddie Swimmer, Merritt Youngdeer and Mark Malone record a humorous sketch called “Murl the Squirrel”.

Rick Russell, Eddie Swimmer, Merritt Youngdeer and Mark Malone record a humorous sketch called “Murl the Squirrel”.

Lifeword’s Native American broadcast, Spiritword, is in its eleventh year, and Brothers Merritt Youngdeer and Eddie Swimmer show no signs of slowing down in their ministry work to a people group where less than five percent claim to know Jesus. Last week, they traveled from their homes in Cherokee, North Carolina, to record additional programs at the Lifeword Media Ministries’ studios. Chief Programming Officer Rick Russell and Engineer Mark Malone produced the new recordings that will be heard on reservations all across America, Canada and Alaska.

Bro. Youngdeer, who is of Cherokee descent, and Bro. Swimmer, a Chippewa-Cree, agree that Native Americans still feel the sting of the disenfranchisement of the 1800s, when the American government began to forcibly intervene in their lives.

Rick Russell commented on that distrust as well. “The Native American community is difficult to break into; there is a tremendous distrust of the ‘white man’s religion’, because early in our country’s history the government began an attempt to strip them of their heritage. Spiritword is an opportunity to disarm or diffuse that animosity with humor, but it’s been a slow march to get this program out on the rez (reservation).”

Bro. Swimmer says that Spiritword attempts “to introduce the gospel by bringing Christ into their own dances, stories and songs passed down for centuries and even into tragic experiences like Trail of Tears.”

Jerry Kidd, Merritt Youngdeer, Rick Russell and Eddie Swimmer enjoy catching up during a break in recording a Spiritword program.

Jerry Kidd, Merritt Youngdeer, Rick Russell and Eddie Swimmer enjoy catching up during a break in recording a Spiritword program.

Lifeword’s affiliation with Bro. Youngdeer began in 1996 when he and his pastor in Oklahoma, who were producing a radio program at that time, contacted Russell for advice on how to “spruce up” their program to make it more interesting. Eventually Bro. Merritt became a member of Lifeword’s Board, and during that time, Russell says, “I continued to bother Merritt about how we could help spread the gospel to Native Americans, and he finally agreed to use his own money and raise more for the cost of getting those programs on the air.”

Bro. Swimmer, a member of Cherokee Baptist Church where Bro. Youngdeer pastored at the time, soon became his “sidekick” and the broadcasts began airing in 2004. God has blessed their efforts and many have requested the CDs, which are also passed out at the annual Gathering of Nations, a Pow Wow involving 500 Native Americans tribes. Bro. Youngdeer requested the following: “Please pray for a great and mighty revival among native people-instead of Satan doing his bid with them-and an increase in the number of program producers on tribal stations.”

According to Rick Russell, those plans are in place. “To increase the number of affiliations, in October, Merritt and I will visit radio stations on reservations in several states to buy air time on their stations. We just hope that they will sit down with us, get to know us, and hopefully we can increase Spiritword’s air time and broadcasts.”

World Prayer Meeting

By Holly Meriweather
Lifeword National Walk for The World Coordinator

In honor of Lifeword’s fiftieth anniversary, a World Prayer Meeting for Lifeword will be held at the BMA Global Ministry Center at 9 a.m. on September 4, the day of the first broadcast in 1965. We are inviting the entire BMA global family to have morning coffee with us via internet and share in a special time of prayer for this unique media ministry that began as radio broadcasting and is now a world-wide instrument for the gospel through any available media.

If you would like to hear an excerpt from one of the first radio broadcasts, please go to lifeword.org/video-gallery to see Lifeword’s fiftieth anniversary video. Also on the website, you can purchase “Lifeword at 50” T-shirts and register your church for the 2015 Walk and/or Lifeword Sunday (October 25).

We hope you and your church will find your own unique way of honoring our 50th birthday on Lifeword Sunday (October 25)…maybe a challenge of 50 nickels, 50 dimes, 50 quarters, 50 dollar bills, 50 five-dollar bills, etc. Please contact us when have determined your Walk/Walk event date so we can be praying for your church. Also, Lifeword staff members would love to come speak to your church or group or attend your event. Just contact holly@lifeword.org

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Beautiful Faces

By Holly Meriweather
Lifeword’s National Walk For The World Coordinator
BMA America Development

I had never heard of the tradition that Bettye Wilson and her helper Val Blackmore established years ago: a luncheon honoring missionaries’ and church planters’ wives at each BMA (Baptist Missionary Association) national meeting. I invited myself to the luncheon as an observer and photographer, but Betty insisted that I enjoy the meal as well, and what a blessing I received that day!

There was a mix of women – some who were just leaving for the mission field, those who had served for decades and others who had retired from the field. It was an honor to be among women whose names I had memorized as a GMA girl at my church many years ago such as Shirley Ladd, Sue Kidd, Lawana Knott and Shelley Dickson, but just as awe-inspiring were the younger ladies at my table, most of whom were church planters in the United States. I listened to them share with each other about difficult issues having to do with their children, their husbands, their finances, their health, their emotions, and their burdens for those they humbly served.

After the delicious meal and dessert, the ladies sat in a circle and shared prayer requests, gave advice, and told stories. Again, more tears, laughter, and nodding of heads with empathy for and understanding of each other. Afterward, Sarah Hamilton, Joanna Allen, Jerene Reddin, Paige West and Angie Cox, women who had walked or were walking down the same path, provided a time of worship, encouragement and prayer.

Even now as I write this, I remember sweet faces and tears, and I am humbled at their obedience to the Lord, a commitment that I don’t understand, for I was not called and equipped and blessed to do this difficult work. I am called to another work, and it is a similar one, but I have not left my family or my environment to do it.

There are tears in my eyes as I recall how radiantly beautiful those women were to me that day, and I know that their husbands and children see it, too. How could they not? Their love reaches to the people who have never crossed my path: the sick, the unloved, the diseased, the suicidal, the abused, the uneducated, the outcast, and the hopeless. And although I have not been privileged to see them in action, it was clear that they go about their work daily with compassion and purpose.

Thank you, ladies, for tolerating my presence that day; I am forever changed, and when I pray for you, I will see your radiant faces lifted in worship and praise to the One whose strength is perfect.

IMG_4442

Back row: Sarah Hamilton (Missionary Care), Katrina Ballard (Philippines), Rita Ballard (Philippines), Angie Cox (Grace Hills Church – Rogers, AR), Heidi Faulk (The Summit – Pasco, WA), Becky Lemons (The Refuge Church – Terrell, TX), Alisha Herring (Refuge Church- Nixa, MO), Shelby Barker (Missions Office/Former missionary to Illinios and Romania); Front row: Dawn Freeman (Philippines), Kelly Johnson (Mexico), Diane Lee (Philippines), Paige West (Missions Office Manager)

Bettye Wilson and Val Blackmore ask the ladies to introduce themselves, tell about their work, and share prayer requests and praises.

Bettye Wilson and Val Blackmore ask the ladies to introduce themselves, tell about their work, and share prayer requests and praises.

Sarah Hamilton shares her heart as a former missionary while Jerene Reddin gets ready to lead in worship.

Sarah Hamilton shares her heart as a former missionary while Jerene Reddin gets ready to lead in worship.

Becky Lemons  talks about her work at The Refuge Church in Terrell, TX.

Becky Lemons talks about her work at The Refuge Church in Terrell, TX.

 

 

History of Lifeword – Part Three

TheReaperBy Holly Meriweather

In October of 1969, a year before the death of Harold Morris, The Reaper was launched as the official monthly publication of the radio department of BMA of America. Editor Bro. W.J. Burgess donated his time to edit the free publication. In addition to Morris, HGH full-time staff members included the following: Bob Hand, Business Manager and Soloist; Quentin Swafford, Production Manager; and Wanda King, Secretary, Program Production and Soloist.

During the three months following the death of Harold Morris in November of 1970, Bro. Jim Sayers, pastor of Antioch in Conway and part-time announcer, preacher and singer for HGH, served as interim director. Former Central Baptist College president and then Southeastern Baptist College President A.R. Reddin became director of Harvest Gleaner Hour in February of 1971. The need for print materials for follow-up correspondence to the radio broadcasts (especially those detailing the plan of salvation) soon became apparent to him, and he issued a plea to churches to respond to this financial need.

After a year serving as director, Bro. A.R. Reddin died on February 12, 1972, after a series of heart attacks. He left behind his wife Lizzie and three sons, George, Charles and Tim. Just like his predecessor Harold Morris, he was buried in Crestlawn cemetery on the outskirts of Conway, Arkansas. Bro Burgess noted in a posthumous Reaper article the he had reduced indebtedness by $5,000 and bought and paid for $10,000 worth of needed equipment during his time of “marvelous work with this department.”

Bro. Paul Bearfield, who had been serving as missionary to Taiwan and a HGH broadcast speaker for several years, came off the field to become the new director. Although the facilities were briefly transferred to Temple in Little Rock in 1967, several Conway locations (including Harold Morris’s home) housed HGH, the Shaw building in downtown being its location at the time of Bro. Bearfield’s appointment. In addition, there were twenty-two radio broadcast stations with three languages, English, Spanish (Puerto Rico) and Creole French (Haiti).

History of Lifeword – Part Two

MorrisBy Holly Meriweather

In 1965, when Harold Morris recorded the first broadcast of the Harvest Gleaner Gospel Hour from the living room of his home in Conway, Arkansas, he could not have imagined the Lifeword Media Ministries of 2015. A man with incredible vision, a burden for the lost and a desire to be used of God, Morris used the best technology available to fulfill the Great Commission.

In a 1969 Gleaner article, Bro. Morris challenged readers to “make full use of the best technical means of communication…Not to take advantages of these opportunities will be tragic, not only for us, but for a lost and disillusioned world. Advances in technology are revolutionizing the entire world in our time. In the face of this, we must recognize that too many of our efforts are still mired in yesterday’s organizations, programs and traditions…What are we doing to prepare our Christian young people in radio drama, program production, music, writing and engineering? To fall behind the times, to use means not equal with the task is like using the pick and shove to build our highways…We are under orders. Our risen Lord has commanded: ‘Go, preach, make disciples.’”

Harold Morris was the first missionary commissioned by the BMA (then the NABA, North American Baptist Association); consequently, he understood completely the importance of radio ministry to missionaries, saying “…one radio broadcast can reach more people per week with the gospel than any missionary family can possibly do.” He established the long-standing relationship with Trans World Radio (TWR), which still continues today; he sent music, sermon and Bible study tapes all over the world (in English, Spanish and Portugese); and he sought after the highest-powered radio stations in America and abroad on which to broadcast.

On Sunday, November 8, 1970, at the age of 45, he died in a Little Rock hospital from complications of a weak heart. Several months prior to his death, that day had been declared Harvest Gleaner Hour Day, the first radio ministry special emphasis day for BMAA churches. He was buried in Crestlawn cemetery, just east of Conway, Arkansas. From his fervent prayer to reach more lost people in August of 1965 to his death five years later, his strongest desire was to be used of God for kingdom work. That same desire was and is shared by the HGH/Lifeword Executive Directors that followed in his footsteps.

Apple Watch Giveaway at National Meeting

Carol Gipson, Glenda Sellers, Holly Meriweather, Tasha McGee and Sarah ParksBy Holly Meriweather
National WalkForTheWorld/Lifeword Sunday Coordinator

BMA pastors can register for a chance to win an Apple Watch to be given away during the BMAA National Meeting. Pastors who commit to celebrating Lifeword’s fiftieth anniversary by participating in WalkfortheWorld and/or Lifeword Sunday (October 25) will be entered into the drawing for a free Apple Watch and will be given their free Walk t-shirt. In addition to registering your church, please be prepared to name a Walk Leader/coordinator for those events.

Last year’s winner of an iPad was Bro. Steven Clark of Skyway Hills Baptist church in Pearl, Mississippi. He was one of ninety-five pastors at the 2014 national meeting who registered his church for Lifeword Sunday/WalkfortheWorld.

Long- and short-sleeved 2015 Walk T-shirts can be purchased ($13 and $18) at the BMAA National Meeting. On-line sales have already begun; just go to lifeword.org, click on the Lifeword Sunday/Walk page and the “HERE” button to buy your shirt(s) with a credit or debit card.

We look forward to visiting with you at the Lifeword booth.