Many thousands of TWR Africa’s listeners across our continent can attest that Dr. J Vernon McGee’s “Thru the Bible” programmes have meant more to them in learning and understanding God’s Word than has any other source of Biblical training!
What makes this immensely popular Bible teaching series so phenomenal is that the same in-depth study heard by listeners in North America each week is also heard by millions of people around the world in more than 100 different languages. Decades after Dr. McGee’s passing, his programmes continue day-by-day to inspire and disciple listeners around the world towards a better and systematic understanding of the God of the Bible. For millions of African listeners, Thru the Bible may be the only systematic Bible study they will ever receive.
Today, "Thru the Bible"’s foreign language programmes can be heard in more than 90 countries around the world in more than 100 languages; 30 of them aired over Trans World Radio of which 23 in Africa in languages such as Swahili, Zulu, Amharic, Oromo, Malagasy, Somali, English and many more!
You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that TWR’s founder, Dr Paul Freed, have had a positive influence in the promotion of the "Thru the Bible" masterpiece becoming a world-wide phenomenon!
Where did this remarkable journey start?
Dr. McGee began his 50 years of ministry with his first church in Midway, Georgia, and continued his pastoral ministry in churches in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. Even though he had been a guest speaker on radio programmes in Tennessee and Texas, it was not until he moved
to Pasadena, California, that he saw the value of radio and initiated his own radio programme on Sunday afternoon called “The Open Bible Hour.” That was in 1941.
When he became pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles in 1949, he once again initiated a radio programme, which eventually became a five-day per week broadcast, taking listeners across North America on the “Bible bus,” as Dr. McGee referred to his on-air teaching discourses.
Today, literally hundreds of station outlets in North America air the broadcasts, which have seen it pass through multiple cycles of the 5-year teaching series. The answer to the question on how Dr. McGee’s programme is heard worldwide can be traced back to a meeting he had with the founding member of TWR, Dr. Paul Freed, who visited the Church of the Open Door in 1957.
A young man himself, Dr. Freed hoped to have the opportunity of not only meeting this great Bible scholar but of saying a few words at the church’s missionary conference. Dr. McGee responded to Dr. Freed’s request to say a few words, by saying, “Well, Paul, maybe you might say a few words. Radio (Missionary radio) just isn’t important to me. We’re more involved with other types of missionary work.”
But after Dr. Freed spoke at the conference, missionary radio took on a new perspective for Dr. McGee! It was in the early 1970s when Dr. McGee, encouraged by Dr. Freed and Trans World Radio staff members, went on the air in his first non-English broadcast to the peoples of Latin America in Spanish to the peoples of Latin America. He thought it was a good idea, but remained sceptical that it would work until 2,000 letters poured in from South American listeners within the first month of broadcasting.
Millions follow "Thru the Bible" – why is it so popular?
What makes Dr. McGee’s programmes so unique that people cannot help but want to listen, is answered by his approach. “I pictured a man lying on a couch, and I talked to him”, said Dr. McGee. “I wanted to come through to that fellow in such a way that he wouldn’t turn me off, so that he would want to listen. This is what I am still trying to do. I centre on an individual.”
This same focus on the individual is applied by ethnic producers around the world who translate Dr. McGee’s programmes, many of whom are part of TWR’s studio production teams. They share the same theological beliefs about God’s Word as Dr. McGee. Each ethnic language producer who becomes the “voice of Dr. McGee” to his people has a 60-volume set containing all of "Thru the Bible"’s written notes. Not only does he know what Dr. McGee teaches, but he also adapts Dr. McGee’s wording and illustrations to fit his own language and culture.
Radio takes "Thru the Bible" to the least reached parts of Africa!
A number of the responses we receive are from parts of Africa where there are no churches or Christian assemblies, no Bibles and little hope. Some of these people live far out in the countryside and yet they write about the people of their village congregating around a radio for their time of worship and Bible study with TWR and "Thru the Bible". Others tell of turning up the volume on their radios so the neighbours can also hear the message. We are learning of new churches systematically being planted as a result of these broadcasts. What a privilege it is to have a part in
bringing the whole Word to the whole world!
“I want to join with you, and want to learn the Bible” writes a Muslim Somali listener. He concluded his message with a lovely expression which simply read “I love the Bible.” But we don’t always receive only positive messages from listeners to the "Thru the Bible" programme.
Often even those hostile to the Gospel also tune in. The good news is that they tune in to listen!
“Young man, greetings to you” writes this Muslim listener from East Africa, “I want to tell you that, however numerous religions can be, there is only one religion that is pertinent before god, and the rest are tainted. Therefore Islam is the right religion from god”.
Though the response to "Thru the Bible"’s overseas broadcasts accounts to thousands each year, the total outcome of TWR’s ministry and the "Thru the Bible" programme series will never be known until eternity. At that time people from many lands will appear before the heavenly throne, trophies of the Saviour’s love – all because at one point in their lives they turned on their radios and heard a dear, distinctive presentation of God’s Word on Thru the Bible and came to know the Saviour.
For more information on Thru the Bible, go to http://ttb.org/