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Living Water for a Thirsty Land; Trans World Radio Broadcasts New Songhai Program to West Africans.

CARY, N.C., June 26 /PRNewswire/ --

Under the Mali night sky, a fire crackles and glows, lighting up the dark. Songhai villagers gather to celebrate together with story and music. Through song and dance, the griot (African storyteller) proudly recounts tales of great kings and battles. Until it fell to the Moroccan army in the late 16th century, the Songhai empire was the largest and most powerful kingdom in medieval West Africa. The Songhai have since watched their once-grand world shrink as the advancing Sahara desert swallows village after village.

Approximately 3 million Songhai live primarily in Mali, Niger, and Benin. Radio is their main source of information, as many cannot afford a television. Less than 1 percent of this people group have heard the Gospel, and since they have heavily integrated Islamic beliefs into their traditional animistic culture, it is difficult to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Evangelistic gatherings are prohibited in the community, and people usually do not allow Christians into their homes.

But beginning Sunday, July 2, the Songhai will have the opportunity to hear the life-changing message of God's Word -- through Trans World Radio. TWR will broadcast a 30-minute Songhai program each week -- a translation of In Touch -- as part of the World by Radio (formerly World by 2000) partnership. Songhai was one of the 22 remaining World by Radio languages for which TWR has stewardship.

Since September 10, 1985, Trans World Radio and several other Gospel radio broadcasters have been committed to providing every person an opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ by radio in a language they can understand. The World by Radio partnership seeks to produce and broadcast Gospel programming to every mega-language group (languages understood by at least 1 million people). Teaming with TWR in this World by Radio project are the Society for International Ministries (SIM), FEBA Radio, Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), and HCJB World Radio. Other broadcast-related missions include Words of HOPE, Back to the Bible, Galcom, and IBRA Radio.

TWR is the most far-reaching Christian radio broadcasting organization in the world today, and is on the air in more languages than BBC, Voice of America, China Radio International, and Voice of Russia combined. The ministry airs more than 1,500 hours of Gospel programming each week in over 155 languages from 13 super-power transmitting sites around the globe, by satellite, and via more than 1,000 local stations. Of those broadcast languages, 58 of them are World by Radio languages. Every day, millions in over 160 countries are either evangelized, discipled, or equipped by the broadcasts. And more than 1.4 million listeners send letters in response to what they hear.

It is crucial that the Songhai broadcast be culturally relevant to its audience. Abdulaye Sangho, a Songhai believer, and TWR's coordinator for West Africa, has been instrumental in ensuring that the new program will meet the unique needs of his people.

Abdulaye was raised in a Muslim family. Losing both parents at a young age forced him to live with relatives in another city. He began having dental trouble, so his uncle took him to the only dentist in town, a Baptist missionary.

"It was the first time in my life that I met a Christian," Abdulaye says. The dentist treated him and gave him Christian literature. "I read John 3:16, which speaks of God's love for us and how He gave His only Son to die for us. In the Muslim religion, we talk a lot about the fear of God, but not about a love relationship with a Father. I was still mourning my father's death, and to read that God loved me really touched my life."

Abdulaye visited with the missionary several times in secret because he was not allowed to have contact with Christians. At 14, he accepted Christ, and persecution started almost immediately. "I wasn't allowed to live or eat with my family, but God strengthened me. I shared my faith with friends and many became Christians."

Abdulaye later attended Bible school, worked in radio ministry, and joined TWR in 1996.

"My prayer is that soon there will be a lot of Christian programs in my language and many Songhai will come to know the Lord. It was possible for God to save me and He can save my Songhai brothers and sisters, too."
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 26, 2000
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