Gottfried Schiele and Eberhard Haberkorn took a trip to Namibia on what they dubbed the “Bell’s Tour” in July 2019, as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of Evangeliums Rundfunk (ERF) Medien, TWR’s German partner.
Eberhard Haberkorn, TWR German Ministry Coordinator for Southern Africa, takes us through the journey…and says…
(Photos by Gottfried Schiele)
“Embarking on what would be a very long trip, I travelled north from KwaZulu Natal (KZN) to our TWR offices in Croydon. Gottfried Schiele and I had to do some creative packing to get three big protective cases for the handbells, a folding table, speakers and another two cases with sound equipment, our luggage and promotional material, into our VW Polo. And we succeeded!
After two days on the road, our first bell’s concert was held on the farm Dabis, close to the town Helmeringhausen in the southern part of Namibia. We were received with great enthusiasm by our hosts, the owners of the guest farm.
We were surprised that over 40 people attended with keen interest. Some even travelled over 150 km to be there! After the concert, Gottfried invited the audience to ring the bells themselves and ask questions.
The next day a group of about 20 German tourists visited the farm. After a sunset tour of a small part of the farm, we staged an impromptu concert which was a great experience for the visitors, having never seen nor heard of handbells.
The next two days we travelled towards Walvisbay and Swakopmund.
The concert on Saturday evening in the Swakopmund Stadtmission (city mission) was also well attended by friends of ERF and others. On Sunday morning we participated at the church Service at the Lutheran Church. Gottfried accompanied the hymns with his bells and played a few pieces afterwards. I shared about the Oasis Project with the congregation.On Tuesday we headed north to Otjiwarongo, where we had some time to recuperate. (Photos by Gottfried Schiele)
The next morning we held a concert at the German school, which was well received by pupils as well as teachers. The same evening, a concert was held at the Otjiwarongo Retirement Village.
Our next trip was to Tsumeb for an evening concert in the Church Hall; also well visited and appreciated.
The next morning, we travelled 60 km to Grootfontein to treat the scholars of the German School in town. Afterwards, Gottfried taught four music students the “ins and outs” of the handbells, which they clearly enjoyed!
Retired missionary couple from the Netherlands: “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
“How can I do more for the Lord?” The question came out somewhat clumsy, but the young man was serious. For a long time, he has had the desire to do more for God. It is 1970 and Hans van Kampen attends the 5-year anniversary celebration of Trans World Radio Netherlands. He asks this important question to Corrie ten Boom, speaker at the 5-year anniversary of Trans World Radio Netherlands.
Corrie ten Boom proposes to Hans to pray; the young man and the older woman bow their heads together before God's throne. At the end of the prayer, Corrie ten Boom says to Hans, “Stay in the vine, as Jesus said, then the fruit will come naturally.”
After the prayer, Hans comes in late for the meal and the only chair left is next to a different Corrie, who would end up being his future wife. They marry two years later in May of 1972.
A few years later, Hans was at a prayer meeting where he prayed for the technical personnel needs at the TWR broadcasting station in Swaziland. “Why don't you go yourself?” Hans is shocked and looks around. The voice came out of nowhere. It is not the first time that Hans has heard God's voice. Hans immediately realizes that going to the mission field is going to be extremely difficult. At TWR you must raise your own financial support and the Dutch are not familiar with this model of ministry.
Hans and his wife Corrie talk about it together and Corrie says, “If the Lord calls you, then we go.” Hans shares about the opportunity with a trusted Christian brother. He asks him questions like “What is it like when the Lord calls you?” Hans made a list of reasons why they should not go, and the list gets shorter and shorter until only the question of finances remain.
After four years of waiting, Hans said to his wife, “The Lord has probably found someone else.” But then a brother from the church called and announced: “Hans, your support is almost there”. It turns out that the church heard of Hans' opportunity and they have visited churches with a slideshow about TWR Swaziland and the ministry of Hans and Corrie. The brother continued, ‘We have been working for three months and half of the funds have arrived. It’s time to prepare!”
In 1981, Hans and Corrie left the Netherlands with three small children for Swaziland (now called Eswatini). God answered Hans' prayer with Corrie ten Boom after 11 years of waiting and watching.
In Eswatini, Hans has been working for more than 30 years as an electrotechnical engineer in the distribution of the Gospel by radio throughout Africa.
“I work at a gym,” Zanele, a Thru The Bible (TTB) Zulu listener from Pietermaritzburg tells the group gathering for the Listeners’ Club launch. “It has become a norm for my workmates to understand that when my favourite programme begins to air at nine o’clock, I do not tolerate any noise nor disturbance,” She further tells with a light giggle.
Then Noluthabo spoke of how her mother’s love of the programme inspired her to listen to TTB. She discovered how programmes with wise words for life are of great benefit to the youth as they shape their lifestyle and better their character, the same way the TTB programme has done with her.
Also, in attendance as special guests from the United States of America were TWR's Thru The Bible International Liaison, Mr. Joe Fort, together with Mr. Harry Bettig who is expected to take over from Mr. Fort in a few months upon his retirement.
"What we witness being launched today,” says Fort, “Is similar to what we have in India, where Radio Home Groups meet regularly for a similar purpose to translate the teachings that they receive in Hindi to other minority languages in the country."
He further acknowledged that the growth of the ministry in this programme is a miracle in its own right. Despite all changes in time and environment, it has grown from a mere 40 languages aired at its inception to currently over 120!
Harry Bettig expressed how the concept works in South Asia, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh where more radio community groups exist.
"People have learned so much as a result of the existence of Radio Home Groups. They also encourage others to listen to TTB programmes more often." he added.
Tokens of appreciation were presented to veteran listeners of the radio programme, with some stretching up to more than a decade of listenership. Amongst the tokens presented were Bibles, commentaries and audio Bibles. These were all donations to TWR from the Durban Mission Press and the Durban Bible Society.
Special tokens were also presented to Reverend Ernest Mcambi who has worked with TWR and radio ministry for over two decades, influencing a large following of listeners in the province - some of which were in attendance of the event. The host radio station Umgungundlovu FM, also received a token of appreciation.
During the years of partnership between TWR and ERF, the truly remarkable journey of Reverend Stephen Boayke-Yiadom, former International Director for TWR Africa, unfolded.
Rev Boakye-Yiadom was born on 21 July 1943 in Kumasi, Ghana. After completing his schooling in Ghana, he found employment in a local bank, but then decided to leave his job to study abroad. While living in Germany, he was introduced to ERF Medien by Mrs Herta Wojahn. This friendly elderly lady often invited the young African man to lunch and they would listen to the broadcasts together. This turned out to change Stephen’s career path and life altogether.
Stephen proceeded to attend Chrischona Theological Seminary in Switzerland. On completion of his studies, he was ordained in the Methodist Church, and in September 1975 he joined ERF serving as an intern under the leadership of Rev Horst Marquardt, one of the founders of ERF and Director at the time.
Jürgen Werth, former Director of ERF, recalls: “Stephen was filled with God’s glowing love for Africa. And this love he discovered in Germany of all places… He had wanted to become a banker. However, through the broadcasting series “Many roads, one goal”, he received the calling for his life. He was to become a missionary. In Africa for Africa. He became one of the most influential missionaries in African history. A missionary with a true sense for missions. It is largely due to his credit that the Good News of Jesus is presently distributed across the continent in 80 languages and dialects, has taken root in countless hearts of people in huts and houses in more than 50 countries, giving hope, comfort, and eternal life.”
In 1976 the International Director of TWR called Rev Marquardt, asking whether they had someone available to help in Africa. God’s timing was perfect! Stephen went to Nairobi, Kenya, as an ERF missionary to establish a new office and production centre in the country. He started production of broadcasts in languages spoken in East Africa. Together with TWR he launched a programme called “Africa challenge”.
On August 6, 1977, Stephen married Grace from his home country, Ghana, and she returned to Kenya to serve with him. Within a few years, Stephen was appointed TWR General Secretary for Africa. His responsibilities were the overseeing of the Kenya ministry and promoting TWR to the church and mission leaders in Africa.
As one of TWR’s most long-standing partners, Evangeliums Rundfunk (ERF) Medien, a German Christian media broadcasting company, will celebrate their 60th anniversary in October 2019, many good memories and stories of the past six decades are brought to mind.
ERF Medien is a Christian media broadcasting company that offers programming aimed toward young and old alike; the healthy and sick; Christians and non-Christians; women and men. Founded in 1959 in Wetzlar, Germany, ERF was one of the first private broadcasters in Germany to spread the Gospel through the media - first by radio, and later on television and over the internet. (https://www.erf.de/erf-medien/unternehmen/english/32295?reset=1)
ERF and TWR
For TWR, the concept of the national partner came into being with the birth of Evangeliums-Rundfunk (ERF) of Germany. Hermann Schule, chairman of the German board of directors and coordinator of German programming in Tangier at the time, approached TWR in the 1960s for exclusive rights to the German-language programming in Monte Carlo. It was a difficult decision, but an attractive offer. It would make it easier for TWR to pursue other languages – those of Eastern Europe, for instance. Through the agreement, TWR handed over German-speaking outreach to the Germans themselves, and other broadcasters would be directed to ERF if they wished to continue broadcasting to German audiences.
No one really understood the significance of that first decision to allow the establishment of a totally independent, autonomous entity, but it started TWR on the path of national partnering relationships. In due course Evangeliums-Rundfunk, which is known today as ERF Medien, undertook the support of many worldwide projects. Throughout Europe today there are more than thirty national partner offices and studios broadcasting through TWR and on local stations. (Source: Great Things He Has Done – A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness Through 60 Years of TWR Media Ministry – 2014)