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.
Pumisacho, together with Tim Zook—a Reach Beyond radio technician on loan to partner ministry SonSet Solutions (formerly HCJB Global Technology Center) in Elkhart, Ind.—comprised the two-man installation team. They did the bulk of the work involved in putting the radio station on the air, helping install studio equipment, a tower and the FM transmitter.
A local TV repairman, a welder and a tower expert from another community also helped with the project. These kinds of working relationships characterize the efforts of radio-planting teams, joining missionaries and local believers. Allen Graham, who directs Reach Beyond’s radio training team in Quito, Ecuador, also plans to do training with the staff later this summer. He will be joined by two Honduran broadcast associates who are part of the radio training ministry in Latin America.
Macklin, who leads the local Iglesia Morava Central (Moravian Central Church), preaches primarily in Mískito, the commonly spoken language. With the reality of no easy access to travel, his dream of having a radio station that could reach into the homes and work places of area residents is now a reality. Radio Voz del Espíritu Santo (Voice of the Holy Spirit Radio) is sharing the message of salvation through Jesus Christ as listeners eagerly tune in to the new station.
Despite Puerto Lempira’s remote location, it’s not beyond the reach of modern communication technology. Many people, young and old, have cell phones, and even the simplest models can pick up broadcasts from the new FM station. A benefit of battery-operated cell phones is that they don’t require much power and only need minimal charging time. This is especially important in the faraway town where the only source of electricity is a gas-powered generator. As a result, electricity is often unreliable, frustrating local residents.
One of the next projects will be for the station to obtain its own electrical generator, making it less dependent on public power. Macklin’s dream continues to come true as the radio station staff seeks to reflect the message of Jesus and the wisdom, presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit through their messages and music.
By Roger Reimer