TRANS World Radio (TWR), a pioneer non-denominational Christian radio station with a 25-year track record in Malawi, has saluted people in the country for their support that has enabled it to run purely on locally-raised cash over the past three months.
This revelation was given in an acceptance speech by the new TWR National Director, Victor Kaonga, soon after he was installed into the post during a colourful ceremony at Capital City Baptist Church, in Lilongwe, on April 14.
Kaonga had been TWR's acting National Director over the past two years. He has a Master of Arts degree in Global Journalism (Media and Communication), from Orebro University, in Sweden, and a Social Science degree from the University of Malawi.
The revelation that TWR is now on a self-sufficiency path was greeted by cheering and applause from the audience, comprising officials from churches and para-church organisations, some TWR Board members, TWR staff and well wishers.
"For the first time in TWR Malawi history... 2012 will not see any financial transfer from the mother regional office, like has been the case since 1985.This means that TWR (Malawi) is not being supported from outside," the National Director explained, adding that his office has been weaned off because the regional office has its own financial challenges to address.
Kaonga said since January this year, the TWR Malawi office has successfully been kept afloat by local resources. The people who made this possible, he added, included those who are committed to sacrificial giving because they value the way the radio station has facilitated spiritual transformation among millions of listeners by broadcasting the message of salvation and hope --the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He stirred the audience by recounting some testimonies readily given by listeners, from across the country, who were invariably moved by the Bible-based TWR messages.
He stated that one man reportedly abandoned his plan to commit suicide, another listener confessed to having been restored to God, whom she had cursed after her son had died, and that a couple donated four bags of grain to TWR as a token of thanks for having acquired truly Christian family joy and peace that has rendered their marriage counsellors virtually irrelevant over the past 24 years.
"Such (moving testimonies) bring us to our knees and make us marvel at what the Lord is doing... As a ministry, we will continue reaching people with the Word of God. This is our mandate that we will pursue at all costs," Kaonga declared.
But the National Director appealed to more organisations and individuals to support TWR Malawi on the sink-or-swim road to self-sufficiency. He explained that the radio station's new strategic direction is that of running both as a ministry and a business entity.
The radio station's strategic thrust, he elaborated, will be three-pronged: developing untapped financial resources, introducing more need-based programmes and retaining personnel, who have proved their calling by soldiering on despite many socio-economic challenges associated with the ministry.
Kaonga noted that the challenges his ministry faces include the fact that many churches run their own radio stations, that the global economic downturn is still rumbling on and that the listeners now want creative broadcasts, or presentations, in the face of the blossoming social media networks.
"In order to address this, we desire to be more aggressive in marketing ourselves to a good number of churches, organisations and companies. We believe we can raise adequate resources if we become more aggressive in our marketing. There is money in Malawi --enough to run TWR Malawi," he declared.
Kaonga said more operational funds are needed to expand the TWR outreach --which involves installing transmitters in a few districts like Chitipa and Karonga, where the TWR signal is either weak or not available altogether. There is also a yearning for the introduction of TWR online services, he added.
He spelt out that the TWR mission remains that of assisting churches to reach people through preaching and teaching, using available mass media, so that lasting fruit (impact) is produced. He added that new need-based programmes, targeting children and the youth, will be introduced, to provide spiritual nurture to the future leaders.
"The Christian environment has changed a lot, as the nation now is more open to anything that comes. Even secularists and humanists are given media space to propagate what they believe in. TWR is in that environment and has to uphold the Biblical truth at all costs," the National Director declared.
Top officials at the function included TWR Africa Regional Office representative Anthony Barkhuizen and board members.