“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV)
“I like listening to your radio programs and the different topics on health and the Tibetan world,” writes Tenzin*, a Tibetan listener who participates in FEBA’s Gawelyon project. This outreach project has been sharing the gospel of Christ with Tibetans for 33 years, both within Tibet and across the world among the Tibetan diaspora. “I also like listening to the songs, which are good. Keep up the work that you are doing.”
Tibet is known as “the roof of the world”. Its beautiful landscape boasts soaring mountains and plateaus at such high altitudes that only Tibetans can thrive there, thanks to a genetic mutation that allows them to breathe easily at 4,500 metres above sea level. In the shadow of this beauty, however, there is a lot of pain. Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have fled their homeland for political or economic reasons, and today, there are approximately 6.5 million Tibetans scattered across the world.
The Gawelyon project uses shortwave radio broadcasts to reach Tibetans and the people of the Himalayan region. Programs discuss topics such as food and nutrition, disease prevention, environmental issues, sanitation and health, as well as the Christian faith. The team broadcasts three 30-minute programs in the Central Tibetan language per week, and hand out physical copies of Christian and health-related literature. They also make an effort to engage with listeners, many of whom live in camps, to support them during challenging times. Substance abuse among Tibetan young people is a growing concern, and the Gawelyon project works closely with the youth to teach them self-reliance and transferable skills.
It is not an easy field to plough, for several reasons. Firstly, Tibetan Buddhism has come to be woven into the very fabric of Tibetan culture; secondly, China’s presence brings with it the same issues that Christianity faces in China itself; thirdly, Tibet’s decades-long struggle for independence has left many of its people with deep-rooted trauma. It can often be difficult for FEBA’s people, who must sow the seeds without seeing signs of growth for a long time. Hearing from their listeners is therefore always encouraging, and although it may seem slow, there is growth: the team added 75 new contacts to their database this year!
“We are mindful that we need to share the Good News to as many as possible,” says a member of FEBA’s team, “so that many may know and trust in our Saviour Jesus. The seed we plant is not easy, the ground is hard, but we are encouraged by this promise that in God’s perfect time it will grow and bear fruit.”
*Name changed for safety reasons
To learn more about FEBA, please visit www.febaradio.co.za or contact our office on 012 335 5708.
Until all have heard,
Dr Jurie Vermeulen