ON THE AIR
When I was the field chairman of the C&MA in Hong Kong, I received a telegram from Dr. Louis King, U.S. C&MA vice president for International Ministries. He told me he had negotiated with Trans World Radio, and we were to start a radio department immediately and begin preparing programs for broadcast into China. We were also to answer all incoming mail from China through our newly formed Radio Department.
I immediately called a session of the field’s Executive Committee, and after long discussion, we sent a reply: none of us had any experience in radio ministry, we had no money and we were overtaxed with work. We just were not able to start another department.
I received another telegram from King. He explained that he had not asked me to start the department and ministry; he had ordered me to do so. As I look back, I am glad he gave us no choice, because we started immediately.
My first thought was to get a group of construction volunteers from the United States to build the studio with donated labor and materials. I discussed the Radio Department with Dr. Philip Teng, then chairman of the Hong Kong C&MA church, and, after prayer, we sent the invitation to the U.S. C&MA churches. We received no response. A volunteer from the Australian C&MA told me he might be able to get some men to come. I sent a telegram to Australia, and they sent a team immediately.
When the team members arrived, I received a phone call from the Immigration Department at Kai Tak airport telling me the team was not permitted to land in Hong Kong without work visas, which would not be granted because local construction people needed jobs. I went to the airport and was met by the British man in charge.
“Hello,” he said. “How can I help you?”
“I am here to get some Australians permission to enter Hong Kong for volunteer work at our mission,” I told him.
He said, “John, when you were head prefect [student body president] at King George the Fifth School, I was two years behind you, and I will do anything you ask.”
“Free my men,” I said.
He did so, and the workers and I rejoiced on our way to the site.
However, we knew nothing about building a studio. The next day, a Swiss gentleman who was passing through Hong Kong entered my office. He told me he was an engineer, so I asked him if he knew anything about building a broadcast studio. “I am an expert!” he announced. “Can I help you?”
He and the Australians drew up the plans, and we started construction. But we had one major problem. We needed very expensive special bricks that were not made in Hong Kong. I went to the brick factory and told them what we needed. I almost fainted when the manager said, “We have never made them before, but we had an order for them from the Hong Kong government. Their job is finished, and we have a large number left over.” He practically gave them to us.
Then we had another miracle. We could not figure out the air conditioning ducts. God has rarely spoken to me in my sleep, but the next morning I knew the answer. I went to the Australian man in charge, and before I could open my mouth, he said that God had spoken to him in his sleep and given him the idea that would work. He told me the idea, and it was the same one I had.
Soon the studio was finished, but we had no equipment. I took a dear Chinese friend whom I had known for 25 years to see the studio. While we were there we got mail from some listeners (programs were being produced in a borrowed studio). As my friend read a letter, he started to cry. It was from someone who had heard the broadcast and asked Christ into his heart—a person from the same city my friend’s family had left two generations earlier. “Is there anything you need for this studio?” my friend asked.
I said, “YES! You notice we have no equipment because we have no money.”
“Buy the best you can and send me a bill,” he said. “It is no coincidence that this letter from my family village arrived here this morning.”
Doug Wiebe, a Canadian C&MA missionary, took over at that point and set up the ministry, despite having no radio experience. None of knew what we were doing. But when we turned the task over to God, He led us through the woods and to success.
That was 30 years ago. The entire missionary team in Hong Kong worked very hard on this project, and the radio ministry is thriving. To God be the glory!