By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (ANS – June 30, 2017) – I am so pleased to welcome Cheryl Hancock-Watts to our talented team of ANS writers, and she will be supplying news on a regular basis from the Holy Land for us.
Cheryl moved to Israel on May 14, 1999, after being sent out from the Avila Beach Calvary Chapel in California. (Avila Beach is an unincorporated community in San Luis Obispo County, located on San Luis Obispo Bay, about 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and about 200 miles south of San Francisco). She initially volunteered with Christian Friends of Israel in Jerusalem as their Conference Coordinator, organizing the Shavuot Conference (Feast of Pentecost) for the year 2000.
Cheryl then worked for the clandestine Voice of Hope (VOH) radio station, which was situated on the Israel/Lebanon border, and helped organize the move of VOH to Jerusalem in 2000. (I was once able to visit the station, then run by Don Otis, son of VOH founder, George Otis Sr., before the Islamic terror group, Hezbollah, took over the area, and destroyed the station in a rocket attack.
But there is now some good news about the station. Earlier this year, the Israeli government allocated a radio broadcast frequency to Voice of Hope, which means that it will be able to broadcast across the Middle East.
In an unprecedented decision in April, Israeli Communications Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, finalized the deal to put the radio on the air. The evangelical radio network is now broadcasting messages of hope and peace to the people in Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Jordan, and will have expanded night-time coverage into Turkey and Egypt.
The Voice of Hope — AM 1287 — will have broadcasts in Arabic, as well as some in English, which is meant to help the region’s Arab population, much of which is in a dire situation in the countries surrounding Israel and who are under religious persecution in Syria.
“I am excited that this powerful Christian radio station was licensed by the State of Israel to deliver a message of hope and encouragement to the people of the Middle East,” John Tayloe, founder and president of the Strategic Communications Group, said. “The Voice of Hope is established in support of Christians of the Middle East and is a gift of love from Christians in the United States and Canada.”
The Voice of Hope broadcast studios are located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The programming will include Christian-Arabic presenters, Arabic Christian music, news, education, drama and inspirational messages.
After leaving the station, Cheryl received her press credentials from the Israeli Government Press Office in Jerusalem, and from the International Press Association in the USA. In 2001, Cheryl began working for High Adventure Radio Toronto, and her program consisted of interviews and topics from a variety of people groups in and around Israel. For the next 16 years Cheryl provided reports for High Adventure, USA Radio, Radio Liberty, IPA News, Jerusalem Post, Charisma Magazine, and other media outlets. Today she continues to send reports and provides call-in interviews to stations around the United States.
In 2002 Cheryl began working among the Arab population with “Smiley” a Muslim who became a Christian, also known as a Muslim Background Believer or MBB. Together they worked among the Arabs, providing needs and baptizing mainly, collaborators, who were tortured by the Palestinian Authority.
During her 15 years of working with Muslims, Cheryl gathered information about their lives under the Palestinian Authority. They revealed information that doesn’t appear anywhere but from the Arabs themselves. After taking “Smiley” to Europe for asylum in 2008, Cheryl continued the ministry bringing hope and relief to those in need, regardless of background or religion, taking the “Love of the Lord” across all borders.
Then a big occasion took place in 2014, when Len Watts joined Cheryl in marriage and ministry. They met in a parking lot when Cheryl was on a speaking tour in the U.S. Because of Len’s knowledge of Israel this caught Cheryl’s attention and for the next couple of years, they got to know each other by phone. Len is from Southern California and was a driller/blaster using explosives to clear rock for roads and mining. He retired early so that he could serve the Lord with Cheryl in Israel. Len is also a member the International Press Association and reports for IPA News, among other media as a freelance writer.
Today Len and Cheryl live near Jerusalem serving the Lord in and around Israel while reporting the truth to the West. They interact with Christian organizations in Israel and Churches around the World to accomplish this work. They speak internationally in churches, schools and other venues, also through radio and television broadcasts.
I warmly welcome Cheryl (and Len) to ANS, and look forward to sending you Cheryl’s many up-coming stories from one of the most strategic regions of the world. They are currently touring the United States and sharing about Israel at churches and on radio and TV stations. If you would like to invite them to your church or media outlet, they can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo captions: 1) Cheryl looking over the Mount of Olives from the roof top of the Notre Dame. 2) Len and Cheryl Hancock-Watts. 3) Cheryl delivering food and clothing to the poor. 4) Cheryl and CJ ministering to Ethiopian Jewish Boy in hospital. 5) Dan Wooding outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Just minutes before this picture was taken, Dan and his wife, Norma, were captured by Islamic gunmen who threatened to shoot them, thinking they were Jewish settlers. Thankfully, their Arab taxi driver was able to explain that they were just visitors and they were allowed to go. But it was a close call.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He has written some 45 books, and has one radio show and two television programs all based in Southern California. While still living in London, Dan worked as a senior reporter for two of the UK’s top circulation newspapers, the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror, and also did radio interviews for the BBC. Dan has reported regularly from Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, for ANS.
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