October 15, 2013

Ten Years on, Adventist Church’s Hope Channel Claims Global Victories

Devir Magaad uses his own strength to operate a pedicab -- a tricycle with a large seat for passengers and cargo -- through the streets of Cagayan de Oro City, capital of the southern province of Mindanao in the Republic of the Philippines. For that arduous work, he makes perhaps U.S. $5 per day.

Although Magaad is not yet a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he was so inspired by the Adventist message and the potential for Christian television via a new Hope Channel Philippines, that he’s committed to donate 50 Philippine pesos, about U.S. $1.16, weekly to help the outreach grow.PHILIPPINES EXPANSION: Seventh-day Adventist pastor Alberto C. Gulfan, president of the church's Southern Asia-Pacific Division, explains the plans for Hope Channel Philippines to Hope Channel executives Kandus Thorp, vice president for programming and international development, center, and Brad Thorp, Hope Channel president. [PHOTO: Brandan Roberts/ANN]

“I’m here to willingly give my donation,” Magaad says to a camera filming his visit to a Seventh-day Adventist Church office. “I feel so happy to help the Lord’s work."

That spirit, augmented by the commitment of millions around the globe, has propelled Hope Channel, a General Conference-owned network now consisting of 15 different satellite and broadcast operations spanning the globe and using a dozen or more languages. Delegates to the 2013 Annual Council heard a report celebrating the tenth anniversary of Hope Channel’s launch, which took place at the 2003 yearly business meeting, and witnessed the formal launch of the Philippines’ station.

Brad Thorp, Hope Channel president, recalled “a history of miracles” in the course of developing the network. In the past few years, Germany adjusted its broadcast standards to allow “single point-of-view” religious stations to operate in the nation, something that hadn’t been possible in more than six decades. Thorp noted that Hope Channel Germany was the first such station licensed by the government there. A similar license was approved in Bulgaria, and an application is pending in Russia, he added.

In 2009, Thorp recalled, the DirecTV satellite network, America’s largest, gave Hope Channel access to its 20.2 million U.S. subscribers. Such an opportunity might cost as much as $20 million, Thorp noted, but was given to Hope Channel without charge.

Along the way, Hope has added service for the Middle East/North Africa region, India and China, Thorp said. The organization now has 65,000 hours of programming available for broadcast.

And such programs are bringing results, he added, quoting Erton Köhler, South American Division president: “Every week, thousands of people come into Adventist churches because of the Hope Channel.”

But it was the story of the Philippines opening which likely had the most emotional impact on the Annual Council audience. The three Seventh-day Adventist Church unions in the country, along with the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, headquartered near Manila, have established three media centers to serve production needs. However, licenses and related costs had to be met, a total, division president Alberto C. Gulfan said, of 520 million Philippine pesos, or approximately U.S. $13 million. Broadcast licenses have already been obtained for five of the nation’s largest cities, and 36 more applications are due to be filed, Thorp added.

Thus was born a campaign to get 100,000 of the Philippine’s one million Seventh-day Adventists to pledge 20 pesos, about 46-cents U.S., every Sabbath for the next five years. It is to this campaign that pedicab driver Magaad is donating.

“When I first saw that clip,” Thorpe said, “I wept. This is the vision of taking the gospel to the cities.”

Of the new Philippine broadcast venture, Thorp predicted it would “touch many in their homes, since many will not hear the gospel any other way.”

General Conference president Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson said, “Hope Channel is part of fulfilling the illumination of the world. I commend the Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s officers” for the accomplishment. In a prayer dedicating the new channel, Wilson added, “May there be thousands of people in heaven because of this station.”