Dear AWR Friend,
We are thrilled by the exciting things that continue to take place around the world through the reach of Adventist World Radio, and I can’t wait to share the latest stories with you. But first, let me share an experience my best friend, Dr. Robert Peck, and I had a few years ago in Wyoming.
Just south of Yellowstone Park is a town called Dubois, which in French means The Woods. From there, you can take a little trail and drive up to a place by the Wiggins Fork stream that empties into the Yellowstone River. It’s a nice place to camp, because there’s a petrified forest up in the hills, and nice fossils often wash down the river.
People like to wade into the stream—which is quite cold—to look for pieces of petrified wood. My wife, Kathy, and I have been there several times with our camper. It’s a wonderful place surrounded by snowcapped mountains.
One year, we were there when some “pack people” came by. They organize horseback pack trips up into the mountains. We decided this was a wonderful idea and asked them if we could join them for a pack trip when they returned the following week. They agreed, and we were so excited. Bob and I had grown up with horses, and it was fun to think we’d be riding them again up the mountain.
When the pack arrived, we saw two beautiful palomino mares. They were magnificent horses, and Kathy later told me she began to pray, “Oh Lord, please help Bob and Duane get those two horses. They’re so nice and pretty.” I was thinking the same thing, so I asked the leader if we could have them, and he said, “Sure, no problem.”
So, we packed our water canteens and cameras—in case we saw a mountain lion or a bear—and we were on our way. But pretty soon, I began to realize our rides were trail ponies that didn’t know how to do anything but walk and trot.
Now, the leader of the pack had a beautiful Tennessee Walking Horse, and they do a nice run/walk with a “rocking chair” kind of movement. We wished we had something like that instead of the constant bounce-bounce-bounce of our horses. And to make matters worse, we learned this was a seven-hour trip!
At first, we tried to keep our legs stiff in the stirrups, but after a while, we got tired, so we pulled back to a walk, but then the whole group had to stop and wait for us and we’d have to go to a harder trot to catch up.
Our excitement quickly turned to bitterness as finally, after seven hours of this, we got back to our campers and stiffly crawled off the palominos, glad to see the last of them. I went straight to the RV, took some Advil, and fell into bed.
I’ve often thought of this experience, and how sometimes when we really want something and think it’s the best option for us, it may not be the right choice at all. This is true in the Christian life, and in our AWR operations. We may think this or that is a great project, or a great radio station, or a great location, but when we investigate and pray about it, we see the equipment is poor, the licenses are not up to date, or the location doesn’t work. So we have to keep asking questions, praying and pushing forward. As we pray about what we want, God may show us it’s not exactly what we need . . . which leads me to an amazing developing story I just have to share with you.
THE HIDDEN FAMILY FROM A “STAN” COUNTRY
A couple months ago, we traveled to Bangkok for a large division meeting of administrators and leaders from the Far East, and while there, we visited a family of refugees we’ve only recently been working with. The way this came about was miraculous. It shows how God’s Spirit is at work everywhere, calling people from every country, background, culture and language. All who are willing are invited to have a place in God’s kingdom.
Ed* and Maria* lived in one of the Muslim “Stan” countries we’ve been working to reach through AWR. These countries include Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nine years ago, Ed and Maria learned about Christianity and converted to Catholicism, but because of persecution, the United Nations helped them escape and transported them to Bangkok.
Since then, they’ve been living as refugees. Without legal documents, they’re unable to work or move about, but were able to somehow rent a two-room space where they live with their growing family of three children. Somehow, Ed has managed to work odd jobs, mostly at night to avoid detection, and they’ve survived under these precarious circumstances. But amazingly, despite these hardships, their spirit is great.
Sometime after they escaped, they managed to obtain a Bible and began reading it every day as a family. But soon after, they started to notice something was wrong with their youngest child, who was still a toddler. He would crawl and play, but always stayed away from a certain corner of the room. Whenever he got near that side of the room, he would look up and quickly move away.
What was he looking at? The family had a picture of the Virgin Mary on the wall, and the mother noticed that this seemed to be the problem. Then one day, as they read their Bible, they came to the Ten Commandments and read that we are not to worship images. She said, “That’s it! That’s the problem!” So, she immediately took down the image of the Virgin Mary.
The family read all the Ten Commandments, including the one about the seventh day being God’s holy Sabbath day. They looked at the calendar and noticed that the seventh day was Saturday.
“We need to worship God on Saturday,” they decided. So they did. From that day forward, they no longer worshipped on Sunday, and they thought they were the only ones in the world who were being faithful to this truth.
The years went by until one day, they read in the book of Daniel about how he and his friends didn’t eat meat. Daniel had made the request, “Give us pulse (vegetables and legumes) to eat, and water to drink” (Daniel 1:12), and after just 10 days, they looked better than all the young men who’d eaten “the portion of the king’s meat” (verse 15).
So, from then on, this little family didn’t eat meat any longer.
Fast forward four years to early 2022. The family was still in hiding, and the father was still eking out a living with odd jobs. But God was guiding them, and the time had come to lead them to the full truth—and to AWR!
This is how it came about: The family had been attending a Pentecostal gathering where they studied the Bible every week. It just so happened that one week, an Adventist pastor who works with AWR cell phone evangelist Neville Neveling, was in Bangkok, and somehow one of the members of this evangelical group had come into contact with him and had invited him to give a Bible study at this evangelical gathering.
And it just so happened that the meeting was on a Saturday afternoon, so when this Adventist pastor got up to speak, he greeted everyone by saying, “Happy Sabbath!”
Ed and Maria’s jaws dropped open in shock. It was Saturday, but this pastor had just said, “Happy Sabbath!” They were amazed and elated to learn that he believed as they did! After the meeting, they invited the pastor to their home to learn more. When the pastor arrived, he was surprised to see on their wall a poster they had created where they had painstakingly written out the Ten Commandments as they’d read them in their Bible.
The pastor began studying the Bible with them, and the family joyously accepted every new truth that was presented. Now, several months later, the whole family is preparing for baptism.
Today, their oldest daughter—a beautiful 22-year-old girl—is preparing to become a cell phone evangelist and reach people in her own language by sharing the evangelism presentations with the people in her “Stan” country!
When we were in Bangkok recently, the whole family attended the meetings in the Adventist church for the very first time, and I introduced them to the audience. It was a thrilling experience!
Ed and Maria shared with me that when they had to flee their country, they had longed to stay, and they thought God was punishing them. But now they have found the truth in Jesus through exile, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Isn’t God amazing? If you think for one minute that we’re doing this work alone—on our own efforts—think again. God’s Spirit is working, and He brings about the amazing results that we are experiencing at AWR all around the world.
Let me share just one more short experience that’s no less miraculous.
THE PRISONER IN RUNDU, NAMIBIA
A little over two years ago, our AWR radio station in Rundu, Namibia, made an on-air offer for anyone who wanted to enroll in Bible studies. Many people responded, including 23 prisoners from the local prison. Our AWR team in Namibia began visiting the prisoners and sharing Bible studies with them, but then Covid hit, and everything was shut down. We could no longer visit the prison, but all throughout the pandemic, our local radio station continued to faithfully broadcast Bible truth and our prophetic Adventist message.
Unbeknownst to us, the prisoners continued listening and following the broadcasts, and more were added to the group studying the Bible. One of those who enrolled in the studies was a hardened criminal who had participated in armed robbery. His name was Haingura Lyambo, and he was now serving his sentence.
The message of Bible truth deeply touched his soul, and there grew in him a burning desire to follow Jesus and make a change in his life. When he was released from prison earlier this year, he learned that his brother had also been listening to AWR Rundu and had accepted Jesus. When his brother learned that Haingura wanted to follow Jesus, he suggested that he visit our radio station. So one day a few months ago, Haingura showed up at our radio station and requested baptism.
Not only was he warmly and lovingly received, but he was also given additional instruction and Bible studies, and connected with the local Adventist church. Just a few weeks ago, he was baptized and gave his testimony live on AWR radio. This had a powerful impact, as he was well-known in the region for his former criminal ways.
A CALL TO THE GREAT SUPPER
Yes, God continues to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” (Luke 14:13) to the greatest banquet that will ever be held. He asks you and me to go to the highways and byways and urge people to accept this amazing invitation. He wants us to be the bearers of good news to the Eds, Marias and Hainguras of the world—to tell them that Jesus is coming soon!
Thank you for your partnership that is making such a profound difference in the lives of millions around the world. There is no greater joy than working for the salvation of souls. It’s the one investment we will never regret.
* Names changed for security reasons.