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From Listeners to Leaders – Kurdish Radio Programmes

8 February 2024

The Kurds are recognised as the world’s largest ethnic group without a distinct homeland. Most live in Kurdistan, a loosely defined region spanning parts of Iraq, Türkiye, Syria, and Iran, but it’s not internationally recognised. Kurds have a unique cultural heritage that traces its roots back to nomadic and semi-nomadic ways of life.


It is believed that there are between 25 to 30 million Kurds worldwide, although sources differ. Historical tensions, including oppression by past regimes and conflicts with neighbouring countries, have shaped their situation. Despite these challenges, the Kurds are determined to maintain their identity as they struggle for autonomy.


TWR (Trans World Radio) and New Life Radio have teamed up to provide the Kurdish community with access to biblical media content. New Life Radio, a Christian FM network in the Middle East, consists of one radio station with towers in nine or ten locations. They broadcast programmes in Arabic as well as various Kurdish dialects, with a particular emphasis on Kurdish Sorani.


The Kurdish people are characterised by diverse ethnicities and linguistic dialects, so content must be tailored to suit each dialect and cultural region. For instance, Kurdish Sorani in Northern Iraq differs from Kurdish Kurmanji in Türkiye.

In 2020, New Life Radio had a need for more Sorani content. Fortunately, TWR had a substantial number of 15-minute Sorani programmes in ERF Medien’s programme library in Germany. ERF Medien, a national partner of TWR, coordinated the production and willingly offered its content to TWR and its partners for use. God was paving the way for a new chapter to begin.


Of the content provided by TWR, New Life Radio presently only airs Women of Hope programmes, finding it most suitable for their format. New Life Radio primarily focuses on live radio, featuring talk shows and engaging programmes where the audience participates through games and conversations.


The New Life Radio team prioritizes addressing listeners’ questions and creates Bible-based programmes based on those queries. After a visit to their office, Nathan Anderson, TWR’s ministry director for North Africa reflected, “It was encouraging to see how much emphasis they place on everyone having a phone and being available around the clock to answer questions, phone calls, or texts that come in from their audience.”


TWR’s goal is to expand its collaboration with New Life Radio by creating live content.


Together, they are considering the development of a new series of Sorani programmes suitable for different seasons of the year.


During a visit to Northern Iraq, Anderson met an Iraqi-Arabic couple who had just joined the New Life Radio team to coordinate the Kurdish ministry. The couple shared with him that they came to faith through TWR programmes, along with other staff members. Their engagement in radio ministry is a direct response to the transformative influence of radio in their lives.


“It’s neat to see how they have a burden to utilise radio, and I really believe that a lot of that is because they were introduced to Christ through the radio,” Anderson said. “It’s wonderful to see their stories come full circle.”


Anderson is committed to exploring the complexities of Kurdish people groups to communicate with them more effectively through media. The cooperation between TWR and New Life Radio stands as a beacon of hope in a region where radio plays a pivotal role in shaping spiritual narratives.