Nothing Went as Planned

Working on transmitterWe are often frustrated when things do not go as planned. Sometimes it takes looking at events in hindsight to see that God was in it all along. For SonSet Solutions’ broadcast engineer Tim Zook and his work with Radio Inspiration, it didn’t take long to realize that what could have been a frustrating experience was God working out a better plan.

Radio Inspiration was the fulfillment of the vision of seven churches in Guayaramerin (wī-a-da´-mĕ-dēn), Bolivia. Their desire was to set up a radio station that would broadcast the gospel to the city of 35,000 and reach the indigenous Indian tribes that live in the headwaters of the Amazon River. Our partner, Friends in Action, built the studio/transmitter building and original 160-foot radio tower, and with the technical assistance of SonSet Solutions, the station went on the air in June 2006.

The ministry is flourishing. Church services are held in the studio building and are transmitted over the airwaves. In addition to pastoring the church, Pastor Saul runs an orphanage with 63 children. A pavilion in the jungle serves as his “training center” where he conducts pastoral training, camps, and retreats. Continue reading

An Eerie Sense of Better Times

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Recently, SonSet Solutions sent two of our technicians to Guinea-Bissau, a West African country that seems stuck in a perpetual state of underdevelopment. There’s an eerie sense there that at one time things were much better. After a civil war and multiple coups to overthrow the government, many parts of the country have no electricity or running water.

People have lost their sense of identity and self-worth. Even people’s home addresses are non-specific. Our radio techs stayed “on the road that goes through town where the white man lives.” In 1 Peter 2:10, we are reminded that God specializes in taking people with no identity and makes them His own people.

The latest trip to Guinea Bissau was to make repairs to a partner’s radio station that was struck by lightning and knocked off the air. The information on the damage sustained by the station was sketchy due to language barriers and intermittent internet connections. Our team determined what equipment needed to be replaced and shipped it out several weeks before their departure. Last minute items were acquired and hand-carried from the U.S., including tools and test equipment. Donations from several churches and individuals covered the cost of the equipment and travel expenses for the technical team. Continue reading

My Brother from Another Mother

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Men and women of various shades of white, brown, and black from differing tribes and nations and languages had gathered, and yet they were embracing, laughing, and reminiscing like one big and beautiful family. More than once we saw a black man and a white man, arm and arm, with one being introduced by the other with this declaration: This is my brother from another mother.

We chuckled at that statement, yet were struck by how powerfully true those words were! Though not related by blood, nationality, tribe or language, we were connected by an indissoluble bond which transcends all others—we were brothers in the family of God. This colorful, diverse family was also united in a singular purpose—to see the gospel penetrate the hearts of all people on the vast African continent. And so we came in September, to the AbR (Africa by Radio) Media conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, to learn, teach, encourage, and collaborate. And with one voice we prayed for God’s Spirit to move over Africa and bring many more brothers and sisters into the family. Continue reading

Visitors Surprised by Extent of Ministry

sonset.opening.029“You have been holding out on me! I had no idea what the extent was of your ministry work. I want to get involved by volunteering at SonSet Solutions.” This was one visitor’s response to our Global Impact Celebration held on August 29. Over 500 guests participated in our family-friendly open house.

A dozen interactive stations dotted the property, both indoors and out, where people were able to touch, experience, and learn about the many facets of our technology. Where else could you practice being a broadcaster, or pump water and watch a flow meter track the water flow, or download the Jesus film onto your smart phone from a lamp pole, or put together antenna parts in the machine shop, or listen to indigenous programming from Chazuta, Peru, or turn a dial and see how an equipment power protection unit can protect a device from fluctuating voltage? “I was so impressed by the way all the staff put so much energy into making the presentations in each area a report on what God is doing,” another visitor added. Continue reading

Honduran Station Reflects Voice of the Holy Spirit

Pastor Harlan Macklin and his family next to the tower at his church-based radio station.

Up until about a month ago, all Honduran Pastor Harlan Macklin had was a dream to use technology to overcome the difficulties of travel in his remote area, reaching into the lives of people around him who had never heard the gospel message. That was until two engineering friends joined forces with the pastor to establish a church-based radio station in Puerto Lempira, a tiny fishing village on the coast of Honduras that can only be accessed by boat or regional airplanes.

There are no large ferries or wide, paved runways in this place. The grass/gravel landing strip serves a regional plane company, and small outboard boats are available for water travel needs. This community is about 200 miles away from the nearest major city. Few taxis, buses or even privately owned cars can be found, so whenever there’s a gathering, including church services, one needs to allow plenty of time for walking. Ecuadorian engineer Milton Pumisacho says the environment reminded him of some Ecuadorian coastal villages back in the 1970s and 1980s. Continue reading

An Ordinary Man with a Very Big God

1940 Clarence Moore(August 5, 2015) “Look, Clarence!” said his wife Ruby, as she showed him the $25 Christmas gift from the small congregation he pastored. “Now you can buy that overcoat you so desperately need!” It was 1938 and times were hard, but Clarence Moore didn’t hesitate. “The coat can wait. I think God wants me to use the money to go to Chicago. I know Christmas is tomorrow, but I’ll be leaving right away.” He drove through a heavy snowstorm directly to the home of the only person he knew in Chicago, his friend John Meredith. When the door opened, Clarence greeted him: “Hello, John; here I am. Can you tell me why I’m here?”

“God must have sent you, Clarence. I have a missionary here in real trouble.” With a desire to send the gospel to distant lands, Clarence Jones of HCJB World Radio had come from Ecuador to buy a shortwave radio transmitter. But he didn’t know if the unit he was considering was any good. Although Moore was a radio amateur, he had studied radio extensively and experimented widely. He examined the unit for sale and found it unusable.

Later Jones hired Moore, and within six months, Moore had built a new transmitter with twice the power, creating most of the parts himself. When he paired it with his revolutionary new antenna design, the cubical quad antenna, HCJB’s signal beamed farther and clearer than was believed possible. And thus began Moore’s lifelong relationship with HCJB World Radio and his passion for radio as a ministry tool. Continue reading

SonSet Radios Bring the Son

SonSet Radio Nepal(June 29, 2015) God gives a personal invitation to those who are spiritually thirsty. In Isaiah 55: he says, “Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” For many people throughout the world today, listening may be the only way that they will hear the good news that God loves them and sent His Son to die in their place. UNESCO estimates that 781 million adults and 126 million youth are illiterate. They may not have the ability to read God’s word, but through local Christian and community radio stations, many can have the opportunity to listen to the gospel message so that they may live!

SonSet Solutions continues to provide partners who minister to both illiterate and literate people groups with broadcast equipment, such as transmitters, antennas, and fixed-tuned solar-powered receivers like the new MB-1 SonSet® radios. Listeners in their local communities have the opportunity to hear the good news in their own language. One such partner whom we assisted is located in a very remote region of Indonesia. A missionary who just returned from visiting them sent us the following firsthand account of how God is at work there. Continue reading

Diverse Teams Solve Complex Problems

Equipment Power Protection Team 1(June 2, 2015) It all began back in 2007. That is the year four of our engineers came together to compile a list of needs for a power protection system that would guard against damaging lightning strikes, brownouts, and otherwise poor quality power grids. John Wineman, Herb Jacobson, Mike Axman, and Ted Miller were convinced that a reliable, affordable solution could be developed to protect expensive radio and healthcare equipment from the harsh realities of unstable power sources worldwide, saving our partners countless hours of lost ministry time and expensive repairs.

The project involves using a “Raspberry Pi,” a computer about the size of a credit card, to monitor the quality of the building’s incoming electrical power and disconnect the power before damage occurs. John Wineman describes the project as “a complex problem with limited resources.” Most of the work so far has been accomplished by student interns during spring break. The sporadic nature of this kind of project development requires detailed documentation, relatively long learning curves, and occasional redesigns due to obsolescence. However, this summer we have put together a team of six who will be collaborating on the project, with the goal of creating a minimal, but working, prototype. Continue reading

Reaching More People and More Places

Preparing MB-1 for Shipment(May 21, 2015) The new MB-1 Multi-band SonSet® radios have headed out to partners and listeners! SonSet radios are solar-powered and fixed-tuned to partner’s stations. The previous FM models have made the spoken Good News of Jesus Christ available to unreached people in many countries. Tens of thousands of SonSet radios have been processed and placed throughout the globe since 2006. The MB-1 supports FM like its predecessor, and adds the shortwave and AM bands. Up to 9 fixed channels are now supported. A partner can fix-tune the MB-1 to FM, shortwave, AM, or any combination – enabling even more people in more places to hear the Good News.

Around the globe, God’s message of hope is broadcast by partners from local stations. Reach Beyond recently planted its 100th radio station in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to planting radio stations, they supply partners with SonSet radios, including stations in Thailand, Indonesia, and Nepal. Ty Stakes, executive director of the Asia Pacific Region says “What we are doing is helping partners deliver the truth that transforms communities by radio. The SonSet radio brings the signal to people that need it.” Continue reading

A Designer’s Mind, A Servant’s Heart

Herb Jacobson(April 29, 2015) Sixty-five years! That is how long Herb Jacobson was a missionary. He accepted his call to service in 1948 with radio station HCJB. That was back in the days when a gallon of gas was 16 cents, the average house price was $1,751 and Bell Laboratories demonstrated the first prototype transistor radio.

Herb witnessed major advances in technology during his long tenure with the organization. His ingenuity not only kept pace but proved to be ahead of the curve. From the design of powerful, commercially competitive shortwave transmitters, radio antennas and hydroelectric facilities to software for digital radio transmission, Herb dedicated his life to missions and the broadcast of the gospel. Herb continued to work until six weeks before his passing on October 8, 2014. He was 89 years old.

For more about Herb’s life and legacy, click here.

SonSet Solutions is carrying Herb’s innovation into the future. Our team continues to work on innovative design including the software design for digital radio transmission, design for high-flow well water monitors, solar lamp poles, transmitter components for greater reliability on the field, and ongoing design of our fixed-tuned, solar-powered radios. All of this ingenuity is with the same goal in mind: To open doors to the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ through technology. Continue reading