Earlier this year, Adventist World Radio Indonesia celebrated 30 years of programming.
What’s even more impressive? Most of the producers are volunteers, and some of them have been volunteering for the entire 30 years!
At the main studio in Jakarta, and two smaller studios in Bandung, they serve shortwave and podcast listeners across their country’s 17,000-plus islands – and beyond – in Indonesian, Javanese, and Sundanese. Since 2016, they have been working under the direction of David Panjaitan, communication director of the West Indonesia Union Mission.
Today, get to know some of the faces behind the microphones.
Denny is Mr. AWR in Indonesia, the man who started radio broadcasts there as a one-man operation. When his efforts were supported by the local communication director, Jonathan Wagiran [who later served as AWR’s Asia/Pacific region director for a number of years], the team grew to three people in 1988.
At first, they produced a daily 15-minute sermon, but as more producers came on board, they were able to add health programs, morning devotionals, and programs for teens. In those days, the programs were recorded on cassette tapes and mailed to AWR’s shortwave station on Guam.
“Communication used to be hard,” Denny says, “But now with the Internet and cell phones, it’s so smooth.” It’s also more demanding: Denny carries two cell phones, so he can be personally available to answer listeners’ calls at home, while driving, and throughout the weekends. “They’ll say, ‘I’m listening right now. I want to know about …’,” he says.
But for him, the investment of time is worth it. He smiles broadly as he says, “Many people have repented by hearing the Word of God on the radio. Lives have been changed!”
Dr. Nico J.J. Koroh
“I love my volunteer job!” Nico says. He must, as he has been producing programs for more than 30 years.
Now retired from management work at Unilever corporation, Nico has a passion for healthy families, and many of his programs address family communication. “In my opinion, the basic strength of our life is the family,” he says. “We have to believe the family was created by God; without that, it’s very hard to have harmony in family life.”
Listeners also call in with biblical questions. “Many are from Muslim communities, and actually I feel it’s easier to explain Adventist beliefs to them,” Nico says. “Protestants and Catholics know the Bible, but rather shallowly, so when we try to go in depth, they refuse.”
Nico starts every day with prayer. “It’s only because the Holy Spirit leads that I’m able to minister in this way,” he says. “And being a producer has also helped me personally, as it has strengthened my own faith.”
Over the past 30 years, Eddy has worked in jobs ranging from English teacher to corporate HR manager. Throughout that time, he has also been a volunteer translator and producer, as long as his jobs did not take him too far from the Jakarta studio.
His collection of 5-minute sermons has grown to more than 600, and he also produces morning devotional programs. Each script requires four or five hours of preparation … plus prayer.
“Everything is based on Bible truth,” Eddy says, “so that we can answer listeners when they have questions. We get the most response when we talk about the Sabbath.”
When working in corporate offices, Eddy has had the opportunity to participate in discussion groups with Muslims and other Christians. He has sent dozens of Christian books to friends and personally handled almost 100 online Bible students.
Ayura Yoseph Manik & Henry Manik
For 15 years, Ayura worked as a nurse in various settings, before becoming involved with the radio team in 2004. At first, she contributed a small amount of her time, but that increased quickly, until she made the decision to volunteer nearly full time.
Her choice resulted from her disaster relief work after the 2004 tsunami. She heard the story of a Muslim family whose lives had been spared because they had traveled out of the area in order to go and pay their first tithe to the Adventist church. They had come to this decision because of what they had heard on AWR’s broadcasts.
“This was one of my strong turning points to commit to AWR’s ministry: that people out there can literally be saved from our radio programs,” Ayura says. “My family supports me in this. They really understand this is the work of God.”
Today, Ayura is responsible for five daily programs: health, women, child guidance, prayer, and listener conversations. “Our programs must be different from secular radio. The message is different,” she says. “On the health program, we focus on leading people to the Bible. Those scripts take the most time, but this is my commitment.”
Many listeners call or text Ayura directly, and tell her, “This program is really part of my life. Thank you!” In return, she regularly sends them Bible verses and messages of encouragement.
How does her husband, Henry, feel about her constantly being on call? He was always supportive, but once Ayura got him involved behind the microphone, he saw even more clearly the impact of radio. Together, they present a daily Sabbath School lesson podcast.
“It took several months to feel comfortable, but it helped to be doing it with my wife,” Henry says. “We take the English lessons and contextualize them for our listeners. The podcasts aren’t downloaded just in Indonesia. First the audience grew to 12 countries; now it’s 40 countries.”
Church members also listen, and tell him, “That’s your voice! Thank you! We’ve been listening for years. Now we share your programs through Whatsapp.”
Pastor Togar Simanjuntak
As well as being a full-time pastor, Togar has been producing multiple programs since 2000: morning worships, daily and weekly sermons, features on in-depth Bible studies and Ellen G. White, as well as a spiritual program for the state radio network.
He says, “Since we have both Muslim and Christian listeners, we keep the messages simple. A friendship develops when I do follow-up. Once they know me, I can share more about Adventist doctrines.”
Togar believes that Christian principles are not just for church members. “For example, tithing should be for everyone. I challenged my listeners: ‘Try it for six months!’ One caller reported: ‘My family is very happy … and we were even able to have enough money besides to buy a taxi!’”
Pastor Andri Daymbani
Andri has been involved in radio since high school, when a friend asked him to record programs, then told him, “You have talent!” His involvement with radio continued through college and into his job at the Jakarta conference office. Andri says simply, “God had a plan. He was leading me in this area. It’s a long-term commitment for me now.”
“Bible Answers” is Andri’s main program, which he has been producing for nearly 10 years, on top of his work as a pastor. “Most of our listeners are in very remote areas,” he says. “City listeners have lots of options, but people in these areas really appreciate what we’re doing. When we get their feedback, it makes us realize how special our programs are for them.”
The “invisible” work of radio is very different from the face-to-face work of pastors, he says: “Our listeners only know us through our voice. It’s miraculous how the Holy Spirit works on their hearts.”
The beauty of having a large production team is the variety of experiences and voices that different people bring. David is a high school teacher, and has produced two programs for teens since 2010. When he previously taught at a non-Adventist school, one of his extracurricular activities was working as a nature guide. From that, he became familiar with leadership, and he now shares that wisdom with his young listeners.
“The story of Moses is my favorite,” David says. “He was a leader, but still, he always depended on God. I share stories like this on my programs, and teach teens about life endurance, responsibility, delegation, and more from a Christian perspective. You have to be very clear in the way you present, because teenagers will question you!”
He keeps in touch with his listeners through social media, and finds that adults also listen and ask questions. Once, when he was off the air due to an accident, many listeners contacted the studio to ask why their favorite program was missing.
By the way, David lives far away from the studio – two hours one way by train and car – so he travels once a month to record his programs all at once.
Pastor Robert Sahala Gultom
Robert is a relative newcomer, officially being a producer for only two years. But radio is in his blood. His father is a retired pastor and recorded radio programs for years. He recruited Robert as his assistant, but strictly drilled him in “pronunciation! enunciation! and intonation!”
Robert brings a different perspective to his programs, as he recently finished a master of philosophy degree. This helps him see issues from different perspectives. But he realizes that he needs to make topics as simple as possible for his listeners. “It’s necessary so that people can understand,” he says. “I even talk about habits of daily life, such as the way you dress and the issue of jewelry. What topics are difficult? Daniel and Revelation!”
Preparing a five-minute daily devotional can take two to three hours. “Radio is a commitment,” Robert says. “You need patience!”
Pastor Tjutju Elia
Tjutju is another producer who wears multiple hats. He is also the Global Mission (GM) director for the West Java Conference, based in Bandung, and has found that radio is able to support the work of his 16 GM volunteers.
“Hearing testimonies from our listeners has a great impact,” Tjutju says. “I’m happy and proud when I hear that someone has heard and appreciates our programs.”
Beyond producing for shortwave, Tjutju looks for as many ways as possible to share his programs. He has listeners in remote areas who can’t even call the studio, so he puts programs on flash drives and distributes them when he can.
“Podcasts are exciting because they can be heard around the world,” he says. “I’m energized when I hear the number of Sundanese listeners we have, in places such as America. But I wish that I had more contact with them.”
Pastor Supriyono Sarjono
Supriyono has endurance: he has been producing programs 365 days/year since 2009! He also serves as a hospital chaplain in Bandung, and in fact AWR built a studio for him right at the hospital. Several volunteers also assist, by doing recordings after work and helping with translation.
“I include health and lifestyle content in the programs,” Supriyono says, “Diabetes is a particular problem here. But not many medical staff speak Javanese and there aren’t many materials in that language, so we must translate what we need ourselves.”
Javanese is one of the more than 1,000 languages that are spoken among Indonesia’s 17,000+ islands.
“When I’m told that listeners are happy to hear my voice, that gives me the motivation to continue,” Supriyono says. He also shares links to his programs through several social media channels, which have reached listeners in Holland, South America, and more.
Sincere thanks to all of these producers for their devotion to sharing the gospel – across Indonesia and beyond – through radio. We hugely appreciate their tireless dedication, talents, and spirit of service.
by Shelley Nolan Freesland
AWR Communication Director