Why OmniStations?

Country: South Sudan
Ministry: Radio South Sudan
Contact: Mike Gwartney

The following is a report from our ministry affiliate, Mike Gwartney, who heads up a ministry called Radio South Sudan. He often travels into the most dangerous areas on earth, setting up radio stations to reach displaced and disenfranchised people with the Gospel’s message of hope.

It’s Monday, the 15th of September 2014, and we have just finished installing our second Galcom OmniStation in Kajo Keji, South Sudan. I flew from Dallas, Texas to Entebbe, Uganda; that was over 20 hours of flying, then I got on a bus with Pastor Alex Aciga, whom I had never met previously, and traveled north through Uganda to Moyo. Then, we drove five miles by Land Rover to the border of South Sudan. We installed an FM radio station in one of the remote areas of South Sudan.  

The questions I get asked the most are, “Why do you do this?” and “Why do you use the stations you use?” These are great questions! 

My wife and I believe God called us to build radio stations in South Sudan. I have been praying during the past couple of weeks, “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done ̶ and by what we have left undone;” it is the left undone that concerns me. If we are called to build radio stations and don’t do it, that would be a calling left undone, and a sin against God.    

As for why we use the Galcom equipment, it is because the OmniStation is portable and can be easily picked up and taken to a safe location, if for some reason the station is in danger. South Sudan is a dangerous place, and one never knows when something might happen and there is a need to flee.

Pastor Alex, now my South Sudanese friend who has travelled with me all over South Sudan, once said, as we were talking about the dangers of a neighboring country, “I can say that I have mixed feelings on this. There have been shootings in South Sudan in Juba, Lietnhom, Bor, Rumbek, Kajo Keji, in Uganda in Arua, et cetera, where you and I moved. All have been high-risk journeys, even in our flights and road movements. But God protected us. I think that where shootings happened, they happened where they had never happened before, and where shootings never happen, they may happen at any time. But we give God glory for His protection.”

It happened in Kajo Keji. The government wasn’t protecting the people, and so the rebels started taking over the town. The people were fleeing for their lives; buildings were being destroyed; the church had to leave. The whole town of Kajo Keji crossed the border into northern Uganda for safety. And with that, Kajo Keji became a ghost town. The rebels demolished buildings and took everything that was copper, but they didn’t get the station. The local church that owned the OmniStation unplugged it, picked up the station, left the antenna, and relocated with the people of Kajo Keji to a displacement camp in Moyo, Uganda. 

Because of a radio-license restriction, the church could not set up the station in Moyo. But this year, in 2020, the people of Kajo Keji are starting to move back, and with prayer the station will be broadcasting soon; the same station we launched in 2014 will be broadcasting again. 

So we come full circle to that same question: why do we do this? Radio has changed the lives of the people in South Sudan. How, you ask? A Muslim auto-shop owner plays music from the Galcom OmniStation over the speakers in his shop, because it calms his clients and his mechanics. A woman turned the radio on for noise (tuned to the Galcom OmniStation in Kajo Keji) while she prepared to commit suicide, only to hear that God loved her, and changed her mind. People have listened to a dramatic reading from a program called OneTribe about peace and reconciliation, and decided to stop the revenge killing of a person from another tribe. Many are being prayed for, and many are coming to Christ. And isn’t this exactly what God tells us to do in Matthew 28:19? “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”