Burundi’s churches are using the radio to endorse COVID prevention methods and the hope of the gospel to their entire nation.
As COVID-19 began to hit the continent of Africa, many churches faced the difficulty of inaccurate reports and contradicting instructions from their governments. In some places, people simply had no idea what was happening to their country and the entire region.
The Baptist Union of Burundi decided to take action this summer to help people in rural areas who did not regularly receive the news. Most people in Burundi have radios rather than televisions. This is their main source of news and evening relaxation. With this in mind, the Baptist Union reached out to several of the country’s largest radio stations with a proposal.
Would the radio stations be willing to let the churches run a COVID awareness campaign and devotional several times a day over the airways?
Good News Over the Airways
The three biggest radio stations in Burundi — National Radio, Radio Isanganiro and Rema FM Radio — agreed to host the Baptist Union’s campaign. The church teams put together information from World Challenge packets and Burundi’s Ministry of Health; then they went one step farther and contacted some local doctors to speak on the program.
The church leaders wanted to not only spread correct information about how to prevent transmission of the coronavirus but also encourage people to put their hope in God. In these turbulent times, God presence is the only certain way to know peace and spiritual stability. They wanted to draw nonbelievers to Christ and encourage believers to act on their faith.
Each awareness campaign and devotion were arranged to be presented just after evening news. The stations also offered the option for people to call in with questions that the pastor or doctor presenting could answer.
The questions were wide-ranging but contained a common thread of determination to figure out what the right approach was for families and villages. Many people had been told incorrect information in the past and wanted to confirm that what they were hearing now was accurate. One bit of misinformation that had made the rounds was that only white people could catch this disease since Europe and America have featured prominently in recent news about COVID.
After the two months of the awareness campaign, they wanted to see what kind of effect the radio program was having on the people.
Reaching the Nation’s People
The church ran several surveys to see who was tuning in and hearing the programs. What they found was incredibly encouraging.
The radio stations who had agreed to partner with them has impressive, national coverage, so more than 90 percent of Burundi’s entire population had heard the show. Not only that, but 89 percent people listened regularly enough to know which radio station and time their particular area’s program played.
Seeing the great success of this way to spread the gospel and practical ways of implementing biblical truths has inspired the church in Burundi. There is potential for radio programs to start covering different areas like promoting food security, fighting human trafficking and poverty, environment protection, preventing gender-based violence, discussing human rights protection, fighting against alcoholism and drugs…
God turned the pandemic restrictions into an incredible opportunity to impact on an entire country.