New gospel radio station launched in Timbuktu

MALI - Timbuktu, a name synonymous with remoteness, is now the home of one of HCJB Global Voice's newest partners, broadcasting the gospel in five languages: Tamasheq (Tuareg), Sonrai/Songhoy, Hassaniya, Bambara and Fulani.

"Timbuktu truly is remote," said Dennis Wiens, USA director of church connections for SAT-7, an Arabic satellite television ministry. "It's in the desert along the Niger River. But it's also a strategic government centre."

The FM station is the latest Christian outlet to go on the air as a result of Wiens' work with local pastors in the area.

"I was a missionary out there and we were looking for a way to empower pastors, many whom are subsistence farmers. Many of them have large families, and they all want to plant more churches, but logistically it's difficult," said Wiens who grew up in West Africa and served as a missionary in Mali, a nation dominated by Islam and traditional religions, for 20 years.

Today there are 44 FM radio outlets, eight of which use 250-watt FM "suitcase" transmitters designed and built by engineers at the HCJB Global Technology Centre.

"A Christian Malian media association was established to represent the media interests of the Mali churches," Wiens added. "Last year a local partner radio Tahanint FM asked for a frequency in Timbuktu and Pastor Maurice Sogoba, president of the Malian Media Association, helped secure a frequency last December for Timbuktu.

The Mali Media project's consulting FM engineer, Darrell Nickolaus, assembled the necessary equipment, and last April he travelled to Mali to install it. Four days later the station was on the air!" Christian broadcasts from the station can be heard as far away as 100 miles, sparking hundreds of positive responses from listeners.