Basic healthcare isn’t just based on the quality of the technology. More importantly, it’s based on the quality and compassion of the people demonstrating the care. This is even more important when physical care is provided so that people can find eternal hope in Christ.
Reach Beyond not only conduct a variety of healthcare initiatives, but also trains local people how to care for the physical and spiritual needs of the people.
Take Sierra Leone as an example...
It’s been over a decade since a brutal civil ravaged West African country of Sierra Leone—ranking among the world’s 10 poorest countries—leaving 50,000 dead and countless thousands maimed and homeless. But the ramifications continue.
An estimated 500,000 of the country’s 6.2 million people remain traumatized by the war, showing up in anxiety-related problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and substance abuse.
“Mental illness is a growing problem [in Sierra Leone], and getting professional help is nearly impossible,” reported Global National, the news and current affairs division of Canada’s Global Television Network. “In Freetown there is only one psychiatrist and two psychiatric nurses. Outside of Freetown there is nothing.”
That’s where partner radio ministry Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN) fits in. Ransford Wright, who launched the radio station with HCJB Global’s help in 1992, began airing live, call-in counselling programmes in 2004 even though this went against Sierra Leonean culture.
Despite the cultural barriers, the on-air staff was overwhelmed with the volume of calls—everything from listeners on the verge of committing suicide to those seeking marital advice and even a woman who called to forgive the child soldiers who had slaughtered members of her family.
In response, BBN opened a drop-in counselling centre in Freetown’s business district in 2011—again with help from a Reach Beyond work team. In the first 18 months of the centre’s operation, more than 700 people arrived seeking one-to-one counselling help.
Last fall, Kenny Dennis, a licensed professional counsellor from the US specializing in trauma and stress cases, joined with BBN’s Daphne Hyde to lead a three-day counsellor training workshop for 42 participants—nearly double the number expected at the event.
“The type of people at the training was wide and varied,” said Dennis, who spent nearly two weeks in Africa with his wife, Lauri, human resources director at Reach Beyond. “We had teachers, pastors, students, housewives, orphanage workers and a guy who serves at an amputee refugee camp. He’s already contacted us about staying in touch and asked for additional assistance.” The Dennises are making plans to return in 2014.
Wright added that the counselling center and future ones like it could play a strategic role in the evangelisation of Sierra Leone which remains 96 percent unreached with the gospel despite two centuries of mission work in the country.
“There is a lot of openness to the gospel,” he said. “Many realize they are coming to a Christian centre even though they don’t have a Christian faith, so it’s an evangelistic tool.”
Through the partnership between Reach Beyond and Believer’s Broadcasting Network, the number of counsellors available to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people in this desperate country is increasing rapidly.
Redemption and Reconciliation
“A woman called our station because of the pain she was still experiencing from the war,” said Ransford Wright, founder of Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN). She called seeking counsel on how to forgive those who had murdered members of her family. While she was speaking on the radio, another call came in…
The man on the other end of the radio was about to do something completely unexpected. He admitted to being among those who had committed atrocities during the war. He wanted to confess his sin and receive forgiveness, not just from God, but from those who he hurt as a young soldier.
The person running the programme shared with both callers that Jesus was the God of forgiveness. He told them they could both be free from the pain of the past if they would trust Christ to forgive them, and help them forgive others.
In an unforgettable moment, the callers reconciled because of the message of redemption they heard on the radio. “Definitely the forgiveness was hard, but this is what the grace of God can do,” Ransford emphasised. “Our ministry is so relevant to help people understand the grace of God, the love of God, the forgiveness of God because nobody wins in a war.”
Trained counsellors and the Holy Spirit make moments like this possible. Through people like you, Reach Beyond is working with partners to train counsellors, clinic technicians and interns in how to care for people at a spiritual, physical and emotional level, all in Jesus name.
Spiritual victories like this don’t happen by accident. They happen as the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of people. And like never before, God is using radio as His instrument of healing. These people are two examples of the thousands that reach Beyond and BBN has reached in the last decade.