A new era dawned in Latin America on Tuesday 30 January 2018 when the most powerful radio station in the Western Hemisphere was inaugurated on the island on Bonaire in the Caribbean.
TWR President Lauren Libby joined ministry staff, board members, supporters and invited guests on the little island of Bonaire to celebrate the launching of a 450,000-watt transmitter, which Libby describes as “a big voice for Jesus.” When the transmitter at Shine 800 AM – the new name for the TWR Bonaire station – was switched on, the potential audience for gospel broadcasts to places like Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil doubled to 100 million.
“We expect many surprises to happen as a result of this historic event,” said Annabel Torrealba, TWR director for north and central Latin America and the Caribbean. “I see it as the beginning of great things that will happen for the Americas. We give God the glory!”
Since 1964, TWR has been broadcasting gospel programmes from Bonaire, but in recent years, appeals for a stronger radio signal have grown louder from across the region. Listeners on the edges or outside the existing broadcast footprint have received an inconsistent TWR signal or nothing at all.
A Cuban listener recently wrote, “Two months ago, we moved, and in our new house, we cannot hear you – the signal arrives very poorly. We regret the move because of this inconvenience. Do you know if the signal will be improved this year?” A TWR representative responded with the good news: He will be able to receive a clear signal once the new transmitter is switched on.
Although TWR’s national partner ministry in Venezuela and would-be listeners in areas unreached by the Bonaire broadcasts have long hoped for a stronger signal, the need is even greater amid the country’s political and economic crisis. Gabriel Fernandez, director of RTM (the Spanish translation of TWR) Venezuela, said many local radio stations that carried RTM programming have been closed by the government, making Shine 800 AM’s upgraded coverage of the entire country especially critical. Fernandez planned to attend the launch event, but his airline ticket was cancelled after a Venezuelan presidential decree banned travel to Bonaire.
Bernard Oosterhoff, station director of TWR Bonaire, said, “This week we welcome over 50 guests from around the world and many local guests to dedicate the new transmitter to the Lord. A project of nearly five years has come to an end. God provided all the skilled people and means to buy and install the new transmitter, and we praise him for that.”
You can hear some of the celebrations from the day for yourself for free on Soundcloud; simply follow this link, or you can find it from the TWR-UK Soundcloud page.
The day after the station launched, TWR Cuba Director Alberto Gonzalez – now able to listen to TWR from his Havana office – received 40 emails from listeners across Cuba, finally able to clearly hear the broadcasts.
To help spread the Gospel and plant churches in Cuba through programmes tailored for their particular social and political situation, give now to TWR-UK’s Cuba appeal. You can find out more about it here.