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Miracle in a Pocket
God speaks through radio! A million listeners a year flood the offices of Gospel for Asia with responses to the life-giving radio ministry broadcasts they have heard.

Sanjay went to his room, poison in hand, and began planning his own death. Turning the dial of his pocket radio, searching for some soothing music, his thoughts turned to the beautiful young woman whom he loved so deeply. Sanjay knew she loved him too. But now all their joyful plans for a life together were over. Her parents had whisked their daughter away and immediately forced her to marry another man. Sanjay knew he would never see her again. His own family offered him no support, and the god to whom he'd been dutifully devoted for so many years was silent and absent. Memories of a happier past now brought only emptiness—and he could see no future. It is the end of my life. I just want to finish it; I just want to die.

Miracle in a Pocket
Bundles of letters. GFA Radio receives 50,000 letters from interested
listeners each month. Many of these people hunger to know more
about Jesus. Letters are responded to within three days.

Suddenly a voice on the radio startled Sanjay: "You are planning to die."

How does this person know what I'm thinking?

"Why should you die?" the speaker continued. "If you die without knowing Jesus, you will destroy your life and end up in hell. But there is a life for you. If you trust in Jesus, you will have peace and joy."

Sanjay had inadvertently tuned in to Gospel for Asia's Athmik Yathra (Spiritual Journey) radio broadcast that day, and those words stopped him in his tracks. He ignored the pesticides he'd intended to drink and instead listened to the rest of the broadcast. Later, he contacted one of GFA's field offices for spiritual direction and help—and ultimately placed his faith in Jesus Christ.

For millions in Asia like Sanjay, trapped in lives of spiritual bondage and devoid of meaning, GFA Radio may be the only means through which they will ever hear the Good News and begin their own "spiritual journey" of abundant life in Jesus. Started in 1986, GFA Radio today airs evangelistic programs in 92 languages on the Asian subcontinent, with a goal of broadcasting to 200.

A voice of hope

Sanjay's journey from death to life began with the voice he heard on his pocket radio. On that decisive day, it was Rajan he heard, producer of GFA's Telugu-language broadcast.

Miracle in a Pocket
A GFA broadcaster bringing the message of hope to people
he may never see … people who need Jesus.

When Rajan speaks into the microphone, he pictures the individuals and families who, like Sanjay, hunger to hear the message of eternal hope.

"Even though we've never seen each other," Rajan says, "I speak to them as a friend. They consider me a friend. And I present Jesus as a personal friend. I never think about a mass of people hearing my message; rather, I consider that an individual or family is listening. I prepare my messages with this in mind."

Sanjay later had the opportunity to meet the man whom God had used to speak such words of hope into his life. Rajan gave Sanjay godly counsel and encouraged the young man to enrol in a GFA Bible college. While there, he became grounded in God's Word, learned to share his faith effectively and was called by the Lord into full-time ministry.

From start to finish

From scripting to follow-up, putting together a GFA radio broadcast is an intense labour of love. Long before they were aired, the words Sanjay heard that day were carefully and prayerfully crafted. The script went through edits and adjustments for broadcast. The speaker who recorded it had received extensive training in diction, presentation and voice flow. And when Sanjay listened to the broadcast, he heard simple examples and Bible passages relevant to his life and culture.

"The words 'you are planning to die' touched me," Sanjay relates. "Only I knew that. How did this person know?"

Some one million listeners flood GFA's field offices each year with their responses, expressing they have received Christ after hearing a broadcast or showing a hunger to know more about Him. They also ask for help with the burdens they carry. Sanjay wrote in because he was suicidal. Others struggle with drug and alcohol addictions, relationship problems or physical ailments.

At this point the follow-up begins. Gospel workers in each office write a personal letter of response, covered in prayer, to each listener.

"When I read of the problems people write about," a correspondent shares, "my heart is filled with compassion. Nobody is there to counsel or encourage them. Many write that they had wanted to commit suicide, but when they heard God's Word shared through our radio program, they stopped. They tell us, 'Only because of your prayers am I surviving today.'"

Miracle in a Pocket
Hungry to hear more about Jesus, a village family gathers
around a radio. As remote villages hear the Gospel through
GFA's evangelistic broadcasts, many are coming to Christ.

Sanjay eagerly poured over the New Testament and booklets included with his personal response from the GFA office. Whenever possible, correspondents also refer listeners to a Believers Church pastor in their area. This gives the seeker an opportunity to embrace Christ, grow in faith and become part of a local body of believers.

But even where no church yet exists, the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in the hearts of listeners through radio. Native missionaries have reached interior villages after days of walking narrow dirt trails, only to be greeted by the words, "What took you so long to come? We have been listening to your broadcasts for years, and we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ; we have been waiting for you!" In such a way, GFA Radio is reaching across geographical and political barriers, planting churches in isolated areas yet to be reached by missionaries.

A great friend, and tool for ministry

Today Sanjay serves the Lord as pastor of a GFA Believers Church, shepherding a flock of 40 believers and reaching out to the surrounding villages as well. He still owns his pocket radio and tunes in regularly to Athmik Yathra. The broadcast has become for him a strong support and companion in his Christian walk and the daily challenges of ministry.

A fellow pastor agrees. "If something happened and the program were shut down," he says, "I would feel I had lost a great friend, one who speaks to me every day, encouraging me."

Sanjay's radio has become a ministry tool as well. Carrying it wherever he travels for outreach, Sanjay befriends people and invites them to listen to Athmik Yathra with him. These people may not be ready to step in the door of a church, but they feel comfortable with a radio broadcast.

Sanjay gets the news out about the programs by distributing pamphlets wherever he goes. Other GFA missionaries and pastors do the same. Some GFA Believers Church members are trained to be "radio missionaries" as well, traveling to nearby villages at scheduled times, gathering interested villagers together and tuning in to the broadcasts. And throughout India, tens of thousands gather at radio rallies—special events that spread the word about GFA Radio and minister to listeners. Thousands are receiving Christ as they hear the Gospel presented at these rallies.

Sanjay knows that a single radio broadcast can be a powerful instrument of God's grace. For him, it made the difference between life and death. The impact of that broadcast continues to spread today. A growing fellowship of believers now exists in a village where once, not a single person knew the name of Jesus. Thanks to the faithful support and prayers of Gospel for Asia friends, churches throughout Asia are being planted because of GFA Radio, as people hear and receive the message of God's hope.

Originally published in Gospel for Asia's Send Magazine, Third Quarter 2005.




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