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Pioneering Form of ‘Conversational’ Christian Broadcasting Makes an Impact in Eastern Europe

Secular music mix approach developed with Reach Beyond’s help to encourage listeners to ‘think for themselves’ spreads in parts of former Soviet Union
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 15, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ — A pioneering form of evangelistic Christian radio is spreading across parts of Eastern Europe, asking questions instead of giving answers.
Photo: Reach Beyond trainer Dave Jolly at the Joy FM studios in Romania.
Mixing secular and Christian music with conversation-starting commentary about life, Joy FM is breaking new ground and winning an audience in Romania and neighboring Moldova.
A partnership between Colorado Springs, Colo.-headquartered media and medical ministry Reach Beyond and local Christian ministries in both countries, Joy FM broadcasts 24/7 on eight stations under the tagline, “Music. Life. Community.”
The target audience is the majority unchurched population in each country, both of which were long under communist rule.
“The people were told what to think for a long time, but now we are encouraging them to think for themselves, so we ask a lot of questions on air,” said Reach Beyond’s Dave Jolly who helped launch the project.
“We’re a very different kind of station because we are not telling people what to think or believe; we want to ask questions to bring people into conversation and hopefully point them to a relationship with Jesus.”
Joy FM first went on the air in Arad, in western Romania, in late 2014. The response was positive with the phone calls, emails and social media responses. Then operators of seven Christian radio stations in neighboring Moldova–which was part of Romania until 1991–learned about the project and wanted to be part of it.
Those stations dropped their former, more traditional format of Christian music in June, becoming part of the Joy FM partnership. Now they carry the programming from Arad, whose Romanian-speaking presenters can be understood by many Moldovans who speak Romanian.
The opportunity in each country is big. According to Operation World, evangelical Christians account for only about 5 percent of Romania’s almost 20 million population and just 4 percent of Moldova’s 4 million people.
The Moldova expansion has been welcomed as an early affirmation of the new broadcast approach with hopes that it might be extended to other parts of the region.
The Joy FM menu is mainly English and Romanian secular music plus some Christian songs in both English and Romanian. “It’s a good mix of carefully chosen secular music,” said Jolly. “We don’t want it to detract from the main purpose, so we screen it very carefully.
“You can always find ideas in secular songs that can jump-start conversations, whether they are about relationships, broken relationships or love,” he continued. “We take them and use them as jumping-off points for dialogue.”
A former station manager in the U.S., Jolly has served in various duties with Reach Beyond, the latest one based in Arad since 2014. Originally the station manager, he has since moved into a consultancy role after helping train national staff.
He asked Reach Beyond supporters to pray that financial support would be forthcoming to keep the Joy FM stations on air, and for the development of a network of supporters to help befriend listeners who seek more information about faith through the broadcasts and connect them with local churches.
“It’s very exciting to see how Joy FM is being received because of its completely unique approach,” Jolly said. “It is an affirmation of the vision that we have to see God use us to communicate His truth in a different way and a confirmation that asking questions and trying to build relationships is working and impacting people, probably more so than preaching in this particular region of the world.”
Reach Beyond (reachbeyond.org) is a media- and medical-based evangelical ministry with operations on five continents. It spreads the message of Jesus in places that are primarily unreached or unengaged in the gospel. Reach Beyond uses media, including radio broadcasts, webcasts, social media and the distribution of solar-powered radios. It also reaches out to the needy throughout its growing network of healthcare services.
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The Gospel is on the Move in Romania through Child Evangelism Fellowship

CEF Romania hopes to beat previous record of reaching 4250 children in 5 Days

WARRENTON, Mo., May 1, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — This July, Child Evangelism Fellowship, the largest Christian ministry to children in the world, will hold its fifth annual Good News Across Romania Campaign, which targets a different county of Romania every year with evangelistic clubs, called 5-Day Clubs. This year’s campaign will focus on the county of Prahova. There, CEF hopes to beat last year’s record established in Arad county where it shared the Gospel with 4250 children in five days.

Photo: Good News Across Romania 5-Day Club in Arad, July 2013

The genius of the 5-Day Clubs is their location: They are held where children naturally congregate rather than inside a local church. Depending on the community, clubs might be held in parks, community centers, or private backyards. The clubs themselves are a wonderful mix of learning and fun. Engaging Bible lessons, songs, and games have been designed to encourage relationship building among the children, with the club leaders, and most importantly, with God.

To reach so many children in such a short period of time requires considerable manpower and resources. Last year in Arad, 65 churches and 300 volunteers partnered with CEF Romania to hold 5-Day Clubs in 106 locations in the county. “It was CEF Romania’s biggest project yet with a number of organizational challenges but it was a huge success,” said Ms. Claire Bain, general manager for CEF Romania. “We are expecting and praying for Clubs in 200 locations and estimate that more children will hear the Gospel this year. God willing, 50 – 80 churches will be involved in the project.”

The Romanian ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship has come a long way since it began in 1972, during the repressive dictatorship of Nicolai Ceausescu. The budding ministry blossomed after the dictator’s fall in 1989 and today the ministry reaches an average of 100,000 children per year. Founded by American CEF missionary, Trudy Kuhlman, the ministry held training meetings for leaders and clubs for children in secret locations. In an effort to preserve that secrecy the date, time and location of all meetings were never written down but had to be memorized by all participants. Children’s teaching materials were translated into Romanian then had to be smuggled out of the country for printing and then smuggled back in for use.

Today, CEF Romania is run by Romanian nationals, Iulian and Anca Mangalagiu, who assumed leadership of the ministry in 2008, fulfilling CEF International Ministries’ goal of national leadership for any foreign ministry it establishes. With 53 full-time workers and 436 volunteers, CEF Romania is active in 15 of the 42 counties of Romania, holding almost 400 Bible clubs, called Good News Clubs, during the school year as well as 209 5-Day Clubs (beyond those held for the Good News Across Romania Campaign) in the summer. Additionally, CEF Romania holds Easter and Christmas clubs, as well as summer camps; it also runs a Bible Correspondence Course and a Summer Missionary Training Course for teenagers interested in evangelizing children. “Our goal is to be in every county of Romania,” said Mr. Iulian Mangalagiu. “We are working diligently toward that end.”

If you would like further information or would like to donate to CEF Romania, please visit cefonline.com.