Water Security in the Rift Valley

The Rift Valley of western Kenya is a sight you wish everybody could see (although the one-hour bone-shaking ride into the southern end of the valley is something you would not wish on your worst enemy). Out of the valley rises 1,500-foot mountains, like ancient sentinels keeping guard over an ancient people, the Pokot.

A million Pokot live in this valley, with villages spreading out for 100 miles. With sufficient water, this fertile valley thrives, and without, people suffer. These nomadic people seek water, and when a water source is reliable and local, a village springs up. But, the vast distances mean that large shared solar-powered water systems are not logistically practical or economically feasible.

A hand pump per village is the only answer. But which pump? And how do you know if it is working? The installation of SonSetLink™ remote monitors became a part of answering that second question. Continue reading

WorldCast Systems Transmitter Training

How do we stay current on changing technology and manufacturing techniques? For missionaries who are not in a manufacturing facility, one way is to go to a manufacturer and receive firsthand training. Such is what happened this past January as our technicians, Alan Good and Tim Zook, traveled to France to receive training on FM transmitters manufactured by WorldCast Systems in Bordeaux, France.

WorldCast manufactures a range of products for media and for testing at their ISO9001 facilities. Many countries where we send products for radio broadcasting are requiring ISO9001 certification on the equipment. ISO9001 certification is the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements. This standard is to ensure that customers get consistent, good-quality products and services.

Our training on the equipment has allowed us to more adequately prepare, setup, test and troubleshoot these transmitters. It also enabled us to assist our partners when they encounter transmitter issues, to help identify faults or resolve issues. This in turn will help reduce down-time for our partner’s radio ministry, especially during this time in the world when information is vital concerning the current pandemic.

A Storm of a Different Kind

Puerto Rico has been battered by its share of “storms” over the past two and a half years.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in September of 2017. One of the casualties was The Rock Radio Network, a gospel voice to the outlying islands of the Caribbean with a potential listening audience of 700,000. All three of their stations sustained significant damage, but WIVV was hardest hit. Because access to the island was limited after the storms, it took 11 long months for WIVV to get back on the air. SonSet Solutions assisted with funding for equipment and technical support during various stages of recovery.

On Thursday, January 7, 2020, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck the southwest part of the island. Since that time, tremors registering a magnitude of 3.0 and up continue to rattle the island on a daily basis. The base of one of the station’s towers is no longer level, but the Rock Radio broadcasts continue. The government asked pastors and counselors to minister to the thousands who are still living in tents, sleeping in cars and open fields. Radios were distributed to deliver these messages of help and hope. Continue reading

Erin Trantham

Erin Trantham is in her sophomore year studying electrical engineering at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. She hails from Camas, Washington. Erin wants to serve as a summer intern with SonSet Solutions to engage in engineering work that advances the gospel worldwide. It also gives her a unique opportunity to pursue on-the-job spiritual and professional growth, while working in a missions context.

Erin will assist with the research and development of equipment, tools and solutions to meet the real-world needs of our ministry partners. Current development projects include power protection and regulation solutions, a next-generation radio receiver/audio player and clean-water monitoring systems.

Erin writes: “My passion for working with Sonset Solutions is two-fold. I have a strong desire to learn more about electrical engineering and technical fields. I understand that there are many engineers and technicians that could teach me so much about electronics, power and anything else that Sonset Solutions is working on. I also have a heart for service and I am refreshed to see a workplace that strives for the Lord and His missions around the world.”

Finding Hope in Times of Despair

In recent weeks and months, many around the world have been stricken with fear – fear that has driven some to despair, searching for hope. Pierre, the leader of Radio Évangile Développement (R.E.D.) in the city of Bobo, Burkina Faso, was struck by how hope found its way into the most despairing hearts. He shared, “Since I was young, I wanted to serve God. In 1998 I had a dream and saw a microphone with lights and didn’t understand what it was. But as I grew older, I saw it as a sign of God’s will for me to be here.” After Pierre finished studying at the university, he went to R.E.D.’s radio station in Bobo.

Pierre continued, “It is almost 10 years that I am working here, and I have been touched by two stories.” A pastor was preaching on the radio when, Continue reading

SonSet® Radio Work Teams

Last year, SonSet Solutions put out a call to area churches and volunteers for help preparing forty-eight hundred radios to be sent to partners in Peru and Uganda. The response from God’s people was amazing. Eleven work teams made up of over 125 volunteers came to our facility over a five-week period before the close of 2019. Their partnership ensured that lost individuals in these distant parts of our planet would have an opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Twelve hundred radios will be distributed in Peru where the Quechua Indians will be able to tune in to the broadcasts of Radio Logos. Thirty-six hundred will be distributed among the refugees in northern Uganda where they will be able to hear a message of hope on Usalama FM.

Volunteers were blessed by this opportunity to be God’s hands and feet. A few volunteers wrote to express the impact that this opportunity had. “It was a blessing to help test and package the radios, knowing that God was going to use them to deliver his message of salvation to the people in Uganda.” Another volunteer wrote, “…the fellowship was sweet and there was a real sense of ministry that filled the afternoon. May God use these radios for his glory!”

Debugging Software

For the last year and a half, a team of SonSet Solutions engineers led by Cody Hall have been working in close cooperation with our satellite modem vendor to track down a complicated software bug in their device. This bug had been hampering our efforts to design and build new versions of our satellite-based SonSetLink™ water monitors.

But in late 2019, we finally pinpointed the problem and worked with the vendor to come up with a solution. As a result, Cody took a quick two-day trip to South Carolina in December to reprogram 125 SonSetLink units that we had already sold and shipped to a partner ministry. These units contained a creative work-around feature to let us still use the satellite modems, but in a slightly less efficient manner. Cody and staff from the other ministry spent 10 hours reprogramming the modems and our electronics, and then he caught a plane home the next morning.  We are thankful for God’s impeccable timing and guidance in identifying the bug and a solution before these monitors were shipped from our partner ministry’s headquarters in the U.S. to various locations all over the world.

Reaching Difficult Places

Did you know that in Sub-Saharan Africa there are 653 unreached people groups with a population of 887 million? These are cultures and places where Christ is largely unknown and are typically less than 2% evangelical. Many of these people are illiterate and oral learners. Despite the arrival of the Internet, radio is still the most used source of information and a vital tool for proclaiming the gospel to these unreached.

Two such people groups, the Fulani and Kotokoli, are located in the countries of Togo, Ghana and Burkina Faso in West Africa. Today they are receiving the good news of Jesus through a new community FM station in the Dapaong region of northern Togo. This station, run by an African missionary couple went on the air in August with the help of Reach Beyond and SonSet Solutions. Continue reading

Unified for a Purpose

I don’t have to describe the current political climate here in the U.S. to highlight how divisive we are. I had a different experience last year where many gathered for the sixth annual Africa by Radio (AbR) continental convention in Nairobi, Kenya.

 “AbR” Media is a body of Christian broadcasters unified by an agreed strategy supporting God’s plan for Africa. They are committed to seeing that every man, woman, and child in Africa is provided the opportunity to turn on a radio and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way and language that they can understand so they can become a responsible member of His Church. It was amazing to see the attendees worshipping together despite the varied cultural, national, political, and tribal backgrounds.

Continue reading

Have you Seen My Camel?

They call it the ‘Call-in Camel Show.’ If someone loses a camel, they can call in to the radio station and report it, and if somebody else sees it, they can call in and report where it was last seen. This program was an instant hit! Africa Inland Mission missionary and SonSet Solutions’ partner Eddie Andersen said, “We got from 10 calls a day to over 1,000!” People began listening and calling in from villages that he had never heard of.

Eddie moved to northern Kenya with his family to reach the Gabbra people with the gospel, but they quickly realized the difficulty of their calling because of the vastness of the land where they lived. “And then God gave us the vision for radio. And by God’s grace, I mean, it’s a miracle how we got it, but we were able to set up a radio station with our studio in Dukana, where we had just moved, and our radio tower, our booster, at the top of the Hurri Hills at 5,000 feet.”

From the top of this mountain range they had a listening reach of over 70,000 square kilometers! At the beginning, few people called in. “But then our radio staff said we need to do something that’s more culturally relevant. Can we do a livestock show?” Eddie replied, “Let’s go for it!” And the Call-in Camel Show was born.  He continued, “But, you know, with those calls we had a chance now with people listening to share the gospel over the airwaves. Now we had almost 100% listenership in our tribe. Everybody wanted to hear about the camels. And so, we’d tell them about the camels, and then put on the Scripture, and share songs.”

We praise God that the partnership between SonSet Solutions and Eddie Andersen enabled a radio show about lost camels to creatively reach the Gabbra people with His love!

Written by Jeff Benedict and Ruth Weber