Thursday, October 18, 2012
From Heartbreak to Blessings
Wayne Pederson shares his disappointed when he lost a top job with NRB and how now God is blessings his work with HCJB Global
By Michael Ireland
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
NASHVILLE, TN (ANS) -- Some years ago, Wayne Pederson was riding high as the new president of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), but then it was all taken away from him and left him quite devastated.
But, as he told Dan Wooding in an interview for his Front Page Radio program, God took him to other broadcasting fields, and now he has the happiest job of his life as the head of HCJB Global.
Peterson said HCJB was started eighty years ago by Clarence Jones, who was a trombonist in Chicago.
“We like to say HCJB stands for ‘Hear Clarence Jones blow!’ But actually it’s the call letters of the radio station that was started in Quito, Ecuador eighty years ago.
Pederson says HCJB Global now does very little shortwave. “We’re doing some shortwave into India and China to the vast numbers in the vast expanse of China, especially. We’re doing that from Northern Australia. But most of our work now is in planting FM stations around the world. We’ve put in close to five-hundred of those around the world and now moving into new social media using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter trying to recruit Millennials to come in and use the new tools to reach other Millennials around the world.”
Pederson’s career in radio started at KTIS when was at the University Minnesota in Minneapolis, “as a young pup fresh off the farm, green as grass no radio experience.”
Pederson was an announcer and worked weekends. “I had no experience. The second Sunday I worked they put me on the air and let me pull records, read news and all of that stuff, and that was the beginning. So I worked at KTIS thirteen years as station manager [there].”
“We pulled the records, we put them on the turntable and we spun them -- I was a disk jockey,” he said. He was then manager of the station for thirteen years, vice president of broadcasting for a number of years, and then left for a short stint at NRB, and then five years at Moody Broadcasting in Chicago.
Referring to his brief time at NRB, Pederson said: “I quit my job in Minneapolis after thirty-four years and actually moved to Washington DC area and bought a home. I was voted, unanimously approved, by the board of directors to be the new president. And just prior to moving I did an interview with a Minneapolis newspaper. They actually interviewed some friends of ours -- Leith Anderson, who was moving to become the president of NAE, Doug Trouten who was moving from Minneapolis to the Evangelical Press Association -- three people from Minneapolis moving to national positions.
“They interviewed us, and when the reporter was done the photographer was taking pictures and she said ‘how about the politics?’ You know I said ‘well, I’d like us to be focused more on evangelism than politics because I felt we were marginalizing our effectiveness in the religious world by being associated with the Christian right. Well some of that group got very upset, they said this man shouldn’t be president and starting calling on the executive committee for me to resign. It was actually ten years ago at this convention where they met and voted me off as president. So the very night I was supposed to be inaugurated I got up in front of the convention and made this speech -- not sour grapes -- but we need to unite around what we’re called to do and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world and I want to reunite… I got a four minute standing ovation from the membership: they believed in where I was and some of the people who had made the decision to fire me were sitting on the dais behind me -- I think kind of embarrassed. But you know, from your experience God takes even the negative things in our lives and uses it to mold us, shape us and humble us so that we can serve God more effectively. So even though it was incredibly painful and embarrassing, God used it to do some things in my life that prepared me for what I’m doing now. “
How did Pederson sort that out in his mind?
“Well, first you wonder ‘did I hear God right?’ because it seemed so plain that He was leading to this. Honestly, it took a few months to recover from that – you’re kind of in a daze, you know like ‘what on earth happened?’. We thought we were being obedient to the Lord, and then this happens. But I kept busy and did some consulting. I worked with Paul Cedar of Mission America, the Lausanne Committee, and helped start another organization for radio the Christian music broadcasters that exists to this day focusing on ministry-oriented music, non-commercial stations. But I just found ways that God could continue to use me.”
It was then that Pederson moved to Chicago to work at Moody Broadcasting, where the radio station started eighty-six years ago and Moody now owns thirty-six radio stations.
“They have about seven-hundred affiliates in the United States and I had the privilege of serving with Moody for five years in Chicago,” he said.
Pederson was manager of WMBI in Chicago and then became vice president of broadcasting his last three years there.
“Moody’s a great place wonderful, wonderful people, very historic and very focused on presenting God’s word in a way that people can understand and accept, a very ministry-focused place. They turn out wonderful students that serve God around the world. That was a great period of time. I didn’t leave for any reason that I was unhappy -- I left because God was calling me to the global ministry of HCJB, but I have a deep, deep tender spot in my heart for Moody.”
Pederson said the new social media outlets were just starting up when he joined Moody.
“It was just coming when I joined, and Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, these are all truly global mediums that you can put a video on YouTube and it’ll be viewed by tens of thousands of people around the world. It’s truly global, so it works extremely well. It’s very economical -- you don’t have to have polished videos -- they can be quirky, jerky and fuzzy and out of focus and all of that and it’s ok. So we’re trying to recruit Millennials: these are people you know between fifteen and twenty-five years old, to come and work with us.”
Pederson explained that Millennials is what they’re calling the childen known as ‘generation y.’
“These are the kids that are constantly using their thumbs and doing text messages -- that’s how they communicate. They don’t look things up in a phonebook or a dictionary, they’re on their mobile devices. It’s their entertainment, their information and their emotional network, and we think it has incredible power to reach people with the Gospel around the world.”
Pederson was asked how he made the transition from the old technology?
“We’re still doing shortwave radio; there are places in the world where we can’t put in radio stations or they don’t have internet. So we’re using shortwave in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia into China and India, and Bangladesh. But our emphasis is really planting FM radio stations around the world -- and these aren’t Christian radio stations if you understand what I’m saying, they are stations operated by Christians. They don’t have Bible all day long, they have culture and news; some of our stations carry the BBC from around the world. They talk about how to raise your kids, how to manage your money. Culture, sports, but strategically-placed Gospel content because many of the places where we plant stations are in Hindu or Buddhist territory. If they were a hundred percent Christian they’d be burned down. You know how the world is today. So because they serve the general community they’re tolerated and even appreciated -- in many places it’s the only radio station. So they’re happy to come in and give them a radio station that carries announcements from the hospital and the police station.”
Pederson said they’re operated as community FM stations and they serve the community, and because they’re general in nature they have a much wider audience than a “Christian” station would.
“FM [broadcasting] is the most popular medium. Today in, Africa, FM is more popular than television, than internet, than any other medium. When we plant an FM station in a community it is instantly popular…. Cell phones in that part of the world all have FM radios in them. People wear their cellphones around their neck with earplugs and they listen to FM radio. So FM is by far the best way to people, and since our content is general and secular, everybody listens to us. A partner in one of our countries, Indonesia, says three to five people a day are coming to Christ in each station. We’ve put in fifty stations in Indonesia; as a result he’s planted twelve-hundred churches in the largest Muslim country in the world. “
Pederson said that if HCJB were to operate and fund every station they planted, they would be at forty stations. This is because HCJB has a management agreement with its partners that they will be self-reliant, self-supporting, and not dependent on US dollars.
“I think with the mistakes we’ve made in the past we’ve created an unhealthy reliance on US resources,” he said.
Because the stations have a wide audience they can sell advertising, and because they can sell advertising, they can support themselves, he said.
“And we don’t have missionaries running these stations -- we train nationals who know the language, know the culture, who are already there. They don’t have to go on furlough to raise personal support. It doesn’t cost a hundred-thousand dollars to put them on the field like it does a [traditional] missionary today. They can live on seven dollars a day. They know the language, they know the culture, and we can train them in about two weeks how to do radio.”
Pederson said HCJB Global has trainers who go in who teach in two weeks what broadcasting schools teach in four years.
“But the fact is, we can teach them basic announcing and production skills and in two weeks they -- with a very simple mixer and a laptop computer and a couple of mics -- they can be on the air. So we have trainers in each of our regions that go around to the different cities and train nationals how to do radio.”
Pederson continued: “Many times, when we start a station, we’ll also bring in a community development team. For example, in Africa the biggest problem is clean water. So we will come in with a team and put in clean water wells next to the radio station. We’ll often bring in medical teams and basic hand-washing, [tell them] go to the toilet in a different place from where you drink water. Just things that we can take for granted, but if we can solve some of those problems we can eradicate about sixty percent of the diseases by providing clean water and some basic medical help.
“So we call ourselves ‘the voice and hands of Jesus.’ The voice meaning the media and the hands being the health care. You’ve heard the statement people don’t care what you know until they know that you care, and we want to share human care for their human needs as we talk about their spiritual and eternal needs.”
How did the thinking come about doing these things instead of just the radio work?
“We can go back to our founder, Clarence Jones, again. After he established the radio station he saw deep spiritual needs but he also saw the physical needs and so he established a hospital in Quito, Ecuador which we still operate and if you know the name Nate Saint ‘the Jungle Pilot,’ he started a hospital in the jungle in the Amazon rainforest. So we have those two hospitals that we use to train medical professionals to go out to other parts of the world to show the love of Christ through health care and then to articulate the voice of Christ through the media,” Pederson said.
Pederson said HCJB Global is partnering with FEBA (Far East Broadcasting Association), a UK-based media organization, which is a spinoff of the Far East Broadcasting Company, and whose director is Jonathan Frank, in a new media ministry called onesheep.com. “It is like the one sheep that Jesus talked about that’s outside the sheepfold,” he said.
“It is very unusual, but the idea is to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, text messaging, Skype -- all the tools in new media -- to reach the under twenty-five age group. Half the world’s population is under twenty-five, so we are partnering with FEBA and onesheep and other organizations. We don’t want to lose this next generation. There’s a lot of concern about what’s happening with the next generation.
“Part of it is that we’re trying to recruit Christian college students who will come and learn how to use, Facebook to share the good news of Jesus Christ. You and I have been around a long time, and I don’t know how to communicate with a twenty-two year old, but twenty-two year olds know how to communicate with twenty-two year olds. So we are trying to give them the tools they can use to share their faith with their peers through social media. We’ve got a digital training center that we bring kids in and they produce content and they populate the YouTube, Twitter and Facebook with content and the more young people we can recruit to do that the more effective we’ll be at getting the message to the whole world. There’s this one YouTube that’s out there about the guy that says, ‘I hate religion, but I love Jesus!’ That’s an example that millions of people around the world have watched that very simple inexpensive video. If it’s good and engaging people will watch it.”
Peterson added: “I believe that these are tools that God has given us because we know that the advancement of the Gospel is accelerating around the world. We see it with some of the trends -- evangelicalism is the fastest growing religion in the world and half of all Christians in the world are evangelicals or charismatics. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world regardless of what we hear about the growth of other religions that we may not agree with -- God is doing something amazing. This is why I appreciate the stories that ASSIST is sending out about the great victories of the Gospel. There’s more opposition to the Gospel than ever before, but that has always been -- the seed of the church -- when there is great opposition the church grows. That’s the irony of all of this. ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,’ and we’re seeing that today, great opposition, but great advancement of the Gospel today.”
Pederson said that since moving to HCJB Global, “I can’t imagine you know just sitting comfortably in the city in the US missing seeing what God is doing through humble men and women around the world that are making incredible differences often at great risk to themselves.
“I would rather be winning the lost than fighting with Christians, and you know [when] I look back at the bumps along the way, you see God’s sovereignty in all of it.”
Log-on to www.hcjb.org to learn more about HCJB Global.
You can hear this interview at: http://www.assist-ministries.com/FrontPageRadio/FPR08.19.12WaynePedersonMono.mp3
** ANS would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.
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