FEBA Radio South Africa is a member of FEBC International and therefore our history started more than 70 years ago.
The Origins of the Far East Broadcasting Company
Two young men named Bob Bowman and John Broger established Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) in 1945 with one goal in mind: broadcasting Christ to the world. They had no financial backing, no supportive board, and no church denomination.
Instead, they followed God’s lead to launch a ministry that focused on the extreme spiritual needs of the people of Asia following World War II. With nothing more than a heart to reach the lost and an understanding of radio’s ability to reach far and wide, they leaned on this promise from God: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with my eye.” Psalm 32:8
With one country in particular on their hearts—China—they aired their very first broadcast from Shanghai. But by 1948 all mission work in China was shut down; an alternative had to be found.
First Radio Station
Ideally located in the South China Sea, the Philippines had much to offer, and the newly established nation was more than willing for FEBC to establish their operations there. The first broadcasts, over local station KZAS (as it was known), went on the air in Manila on June 4, 1948.
International broadcasts to China started the following year and have since expanded to cover most of Southeast Asia, as well as Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. FEBC’s sister organization, Feba, broadcasts programs in Africa, the Middle East and India.
Circling the Globe
FEBC’s programs are heard on AM and FM stations worldwide, as well as by satellite and the Internet. We also broadcast by shortwave through our transmitter sites in the Philippines, sharing Christ in 100 languages to hard-to-reach minority groups. Our total number of languages is now 100 worldwide, with broadcasting hours totaling 700 a day. Three billion people live within range of our transmitters.
But the only figure we’re truly interested in is the number of people whose lives have been changed by Christ. Last year, we received 1.25 million listener responses, many attesting to transformed lives.
That’s why FEBC was launched…and that’s why we continue. To share Christ with the world.
The Legacy of Dr. Bob Bowman
FEBC ministry also touched the hearts of Christians in the United Kingdom. In 1959 Douglas Malton, John Wheatley and Malcolm Fidge formed FEBA (Far East Broadcasting Associates) and accepted the challenge to raise funds and support for Gospel broadcasts to the unreached. Shortwave transmitters were erected in the shallow waters of the Seychelles’ Mahe Island and FEBA’s “Broadcasts of Hope” reached central Africa and India from the Indian Ocean islands.
Early in 1995 FEBA UK decided to establish FEBA Radio South Africa as a supportive organization. Russell and Gill Ashley-Smith founded the office in South Africa in 1996 with local support from David and Eileen McKibbin. The Ashley-Smiths laid a solid foundation and FEBA Radio South Africa was successfully registered as a Section 21 company in 1997.
In March 1998, FEBA’s office moved from the Ashley-Smith home to the Melville Methodist Church in Johannesburg. In the same year Rev. Petrus Moolman became Deputy Director of FEBA Radio South Africa and was later appointed as National Director. Anton and Lucy Meyer was our very first missionaries in Malawi, where they produced programs in the Chi-Yao language to reach the Yao Muslims with the Gospel.
In 2006 FEBA Radio South Africa celebrated its 10th anniversary with the opening and dedication of our new office in Pretoria which was fully equipped with a studio where French programs were produced for broadcast to French-speaking Africa.
The first decade of FEBA’s presence in South Africa was marked as one of growth and development. By God’s grace the second decade also saw much progress and blessings when, in 2008, FEBA Radio South Africa accepted overall responsibility for projects in Francophone Africa and the Yao-Muslims of East Africa. A number of international visitors also helped us, e.g. Derek Knell, FEBA Radio South Africa’s Media Consultant to the Muslim world in 2012 and the American missionary couple, Bob and Barbara Bartz, who worked in South Africa for about 6 years.
In August 2014 Dr Jurie Vermeulen was appointed as National Director and in 2016, FEBA Radio South Africa was blessed to celebrate its 20th Anniversary in South Africa, with 5 fulltime employees, several contract workers and many volunteers. Dr Vermeulen are also currently a member of FEBC’s executive committee and FEBA Radio South Africa is responsible for many projects in Africa and abroad.