Friday, 08 February 2013 15:40

Broadcasting by Faith: The Beginnings and Ministry of Faith Radio

Written by  Rachel Fisher
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In 1984, inside a trailer behind Frazer United Methodist Church, Faith Radio signed on the air.

 

It had been nearly four years since a group of people realized a need to bring Christian radio broadcasting to Montgomery. After much prayer and persevering through numerous obstacles, the Federal Communications Commission finally granted their approval for a non-commercial radio license.

Still early in their journey, they decided on the call letters WLBF, which stand for “We live by faith.”  That same faith carried the radio station through the next several years as they acquired office space that was fully paid for before the ribbon cutting ceremony, boosted their coverage area and raised financial support.  Today, more than 30 years into their journey, Faith Radio has grown their reach and touched thousands of people through their unique mix of praise music, quality Bible teaching and local programming.

 

And there is something for everyone.

 

“When you look at our line up we have stayed true to 50% music and 50% teaching,” says Billy Irvin, the Director of Ministry Relations. “One of the most unique aspects is that we have live local programming as well as national programming.”

 

“We are selective in what we broadcast and take it seriously so we can give our listeners the very best,” explains Bob Crittenden, Director of Special Projects.

 

 When you tune into 89.1 you can expect to hear the teaching of acclaimed Bible teachers like Charles Stanley, Chuck Colson, David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, Kay Arthur and John McArthur.  Bob explains that other shows like Family Life Today,  Intentional Living and Parenting Teens provide another means to reach people who are simply seeking answers to life’s tough questions.

 

 Faith Radio desires to have both to provide its listeners with a wide variety of teaching that stays true to the gospel of Jesus, grows people’s faith and reaches people at the same time.

 

Radio as a Way to Reach the World

 

Faith Radio’s coverage area falls on the ears of Andalusia, Dothan,  Eufaula, Southeast Alabama and even into Southwest Georgia and parts of Northern Florida. Sylacauga, Alexander City and the surrounding areas in North Alabama are catching the airwaves of WLBF as well. But that’s not all.  It seems the airwaves have also reached the hearts of those who listen as well.

 

“While we are a Christian broadcast station, statistics would say somewhere between 10-20 percent of people who listen at any one time would say they aren’t a Jesus follower, but are seeking answers to life so they want to see and hear what Christians say about these things,” explains Billy. “We are always amazed at how God uses programs, especially our specialty programs that have to do with finances, parenting and relationships to reach people seeking answers.”

 

So why would people who don’t claim faith seek answers in Christian radio? “We are broadcasting the Truth,” says Billy, “and the Internet and our world is filled with untruth.  If we broadcast God’s truth it carries with it the power to change hearts, lives and families.”

 

Faith Radio is also partnered with peacewithgod.net, an outreach of the Billy Graham Ministries, as well as 1-800-NEEDHIM. Both partnerships provide a way for people listening to talk with someone or seek deeper answers to their heart’s questions about what they hear.

 

“To see our ministry go from one station here in Montgomery in a trailer to now having a building of our own and the ability to send our signal to other facilities, not just on the air, but now online, is simply amazing because there are people around the world who can access our ministry,” says Bob. “One of the slogans we use is global reach with a personal touch, and this is how we seek to use radio and internet to go into all the world and make disciples.”

 

And the fruit of their commitment to reach out through radio is showing up!

 

“Who is on the Other End of the Microphone?”

 

Letters and emails from prisoners, widows, cancer patients and others who have been touched by the ministry of Faith Radio fill a binder the staff keeps on hand. Billy and Bob say that these letters remind them of who is on the other end of the microphone as they broadcast God’s truth to those listening.

 

A letter from a prisoner in Florida reads, “Faith Radio has been instrumental in my growth since I’ve been in prison. I know that even here God is with me and wants a relationship with me.”

 

Another letter from a woman who recently lost her husband tells the story about how Faith Radio has been a consolation to her in the night when it’s the hardest to be alone.  Words of encouragement and gratitude from places like Panama and Haiti show the global reach of the ministry as well.

 

“We are a prison ministry, a ministry to the sick, a shut in ministry, grief ministry and more,” says Bob. “There are a lot of ways we minister to people and it’s amazing to see God use what we put on the air to meet people in their time of need. We never know who is listening or how what they are hearing is comforting or encouraging them.”

 

“What we see through these letters is that regardless of their circumstances people retreat a bit and will turn to things like radio, and in turn, hear truth being spoken over their difficult situation,” Billy explains. “It’s in really thinking about who is on the other end of this microphone that allows us to realize we are more than a radio station.”

 

Complimenting the Local Church and Beyond

 

Though Faith Radio is about being “more than a radio station” they also know they are no replacement for the Church as a whole, but rather a complement to it.

 

“When we talk about equipping churches through our ministry, something that is very important to us is our relationship with the churches,” says Bob. “We never want to be a competition to the local church. We want to complement the local church, but not replace it.”

 

Faith Radio does this by encouraging people to be involved with their local church and always encourages their listeners to give to their local church before they support Faith Radio.

 

The station is involved with the local churches throughout its coverage area and always seeks to help spread the word about events that are extending beyond the congregation itself.  One way they do this is through their community calendar on their website.

 

Pastor Appreciation is an annual event that allows the station to serve the ministers in their coverage area, especially during some of the busiest times for pastors like Christmas and Easter.

 

“Last year we visited all over our Alabama area and in Florida as well,” says Billy. We met a pastor there that told us,  “I am so busy feeding my flock and you all feed me.”

 

Not only does the station come alongside local churches, but with local parachurch organizations as well.

 

“We want to stand with other ministries and partner with them in any way and get involved.  FCA, Hope Inspired Ministries and the Footprints Ministry are just a few of the local ministries Faith Radio has worked with over the years. “We see ourselves as a sort of clearing house, connecting listeners to what God is doing around them in their own community and inviting them to be a part of it,” says Bob.

 

Since their humble beginnings in a trailer to becoming the most recognized local Christian broadcasting radio station in our area, Faith Radio has become a source of comfort, encouragement, wisdom and a vehicle for the gospel in an unique way.  Both Billy Irvin and Bob Crittenden believe the key to continuing to serve the community through radio is by faith in their simple commitment to make Jesus the center of everything they do, say and promote. Through supporting others and walking by faith, they have been supported.

 

A unique aspect of Faith Radio has always been that they rely solely on the financial gifts of others. If you are interested in supporting Faith Radio, visit their website at http://www.faithradio.org/Support to learn more.

 

Rachel Fisher loves learning about what God is doing in the world and writing about it! She and her husband Chase live in Montgomery and attend church at Strong Tower at Washington Park, a church plant of Common Ground Montgomery.

 

**Photos by Lori Mercer Photography.

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 15 February 2013 10:04
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