Radio ministry celebrates 74 years, 49 countries
Mason Beasler
AFA Journal intern

Above, employees broadcast at the Indonesia FEBC radio station.

October 2019“As a child, I usually slept during church.” David Creel vividly remembers lying on the pews and sometimes drifting into dreamland during worship, even as his father preached from the pulpit.

“Every time the church doors were open, I was there,” he said. However, when he turned 10, he began to realize the reason he was in church. “I began noticing my friends were sitting up and paying attention, so I decided I needed to do the same.

“It was around that time I realized my parents’ relationship with God did not guarantee I was right with Him. I needed my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life on Calvary so I might spend eternity in heaven with Him.”

A seed is planted
On November 17, 1968, Creel listened to his father present the gospel during a sermon, and it made a deep impact on him. The following Sunday, at Walker Memorial United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Creel gave his life to the Lord.

“Even at this early age, I believe that God was preparing me for missionary service,” Creel told AFA Journal.

During high school, he began to develop an interest in technology, specifically radio technology. His father repaired antique radios, and Creel spent much of his spare time either in the basement watching his father work or accompanying him on business trips to Alabama radio stations.

“During one of those visits,” said Creel, “I saw a book called Sky Waves, and it was the history of FEBC.” Creel was around 12 years old at the time, and this was his first encounter with the ministry called Far East Broadcasting Company.

Just after high school graduation, during a mission trip to Haiti, something began to change in Creel’s walk with the Lord.

“God was calling me to be a missionary,” he said. “But not in the traditional sense. I was fascinated by the idea of using high power shortwave radio to tell the people of the world about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Creel would later graduate from Auburn University and work in the U.S. for several years as an engineer, but his love for Christ and his dream of using his technical skills for furthering the gospel still lay heavy on his heart. In 1986, Creel was reconnected with FEBC through Intercristo, an organization that matches an applicant’s interests and skills with an appropriate mission organization.

Two years later, Creel visited the FEBC radio site in Saipan, a small island in the Western Pacific, and his vision for missionary radio work was confirmed.

By October 1990, Creel was back in Saipan beginning his first term of service as an engineer for KSAI, the local AM radio station, and KFBS, the international shortwave radio station.

In 2008, Creel returned home to care for his aging parents in Alabama. While there, he worked for Galcom International, a ministry that builds Christian radio stations around the world. He helped design and build stations in Zambia, Albania, Malta, Pohnpei (Micronesia), Paraguay, Belize, and Indonesia.

Still living in Alabama in 2010, Creel attended a Brasher Springs Camp Meeting in Gallant, Alabama. At the camp, he met Vicki Planta. A missionary since 1997, Planta had served in Asia and Bolivia.

In 2013, the two met again while Planta was volunteering with Servants in Faith and Technology in Lineville, Alabama, a Christian nonprofit organization that provides community development training for missionaries preparing to serve overseas. The two continued to correspond from the first time they met, and they married in 2014.

A ministry is born
David and Vicki Creel both now work for FEBC’s International Service Team, helping with accounting, engineering, and technical support for FEBC stations in Asia.

Shortwave radio stations such as the one where Creel worked in Saipan are a cornerstone of FEBC’s outreach since their early days as a mission organization. In 1945, three men – Dr. Bob Bowman, John Broger, and William Robert – had a vision for what would become Far East Broadcasting Company. They dreamed of taking the gospel to the people of China through radio.

“From the beginning,” said Bowman, “we were driven by two things: a passion to obey God and compassion for people who didn’t know Christ. We knew that this was the essence of the Great Commission. We also knew there was no turning back.”

However, soon after their arrival in China in 1948, Communism swept through the country, forcing FEBC to find an alternative base. This search led them to the Philippines, where, on June 4, 1948, the first FEBC message was heard over the air, followed by successful broadcasting into China the next year. From then on, FEBC began to establish more stations using shortwave radio to broadcast messages to other restricted countries.

A large part of FEBC’s ministry occurs in what is called the 10/40 Window. This is the area between the 10- and 40-degree north latitudes in the Eastern Hemisphere, encompassing parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Many nations within the 10/40 Window are at a disadvantage concerning their opportunity to hear the gospel. Three distinct barriers work against them.

A barrier is an opportunity
The first barrier is poverty. Many countries in the 10/40 Window have a vast majority of impoverished people. In fact, the website (letsopenthewindow.com) indicates that eight out of every ten people who are categorized as “poorest of the poor” live inside the 10/40 Window. This makes it difficult to afford things not necessary for basic survival.

Fortunately, FEBC provides the people with free radios that also have no operating expense. Each radio is either hand powered by a manual crank or completely solar powered, eliminating any need for electricity. Thus, people can hear gospel messages over the radio without spending the little money they need for food, shelter, etc.

The second barrier is censorship. In the 49 countries where FEBC broadcasts are heard, 20 of them have strong Internet censorship by the government. But FEBC still uses shortwave as a primary means to reach into restricted nations.

However, FEBC also now operates local AM and FM stations in countries that will allow it. And the ministry has kept pace with current technology, using Internet streaming, podcasts, smartphone apps, mp3 players, and other avenues to share the gospel.

The third barrier is illiteracy. In seven of the nations receiving FEBC broadcasts, less than 75% of the population can read. FEBC estimates the total number of illiterate people listening to their broadcasts is near 793 million. FEBC stations often employ indigenous staff members so the gospel can be conveyed in the native tongue of the people listening.

FEBC has long depended on missionaries like David and Vicki Creel to facilitate the operation of the ministry’s multiple means of reaching these people groups. Last year alone, FEBC heard from more than 2.26 million listeners.

Today, the ministry continues spreading the gospel farther and farther across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Every day, FEBC strives to reach its guiding principle, “until all have heard” the good news of
Jesus Christ.   

FEBC by the numbers
4 billion people within reach
49 countries
124 languages
149 stations
842 hours daily programming
1,000+ staff and missionaries

Learn more at febc.org or call 800-523-3480.