March 24, 2023

Adventist Church in Costa Rica Inaugurates New Radio Studio, Offices

Property was a gift of Adventist World Radio to the regional church administration.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review
Ray Allen (right) general vice president of Adventist World Radio, and Eduardo Canales (left), director of AWR for North America, Inter-America, and South America, look on during a tour of the new Radio Lira office. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD].

Seventh-day Adventist leaders in the South-Central American Union Mission (SCAUM) inaugurated new studios and offices of Radio Lira, a radio station operated by the Adventist Church, during a special ceremony in Alajuela, Costa Rica, on March 13. 

Officials of Adventist World Radio (AWR), a General Conference radio ministry, and regional administrators from the local fields and Central American Adventist University in Costa Rica, reflected on how God had led them to the 9.8-acre (nearly 4-hectare) property overlooking the city of Alajuela.

“This is a miracle from God,” Ricardo Marin, SCAUM president, said. SCAUM is the administrative office that oversees the church’s work in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Marin thanked AWR for signing over the property, which the ministry had owned since the 1990s.

“We praise God for His goodness and vow to continue spreading the gospel of salvation,” Marin said.

Overlooking the City

The main building has five offices, five studios, one meeting room, a reception area, a kitchen, four restrooms, and a chimney. In addition, there is a warehouse, a small home where the groundskeeper lives, an apartment with a two-garage space, and a house that will serve as a health and lifestyle center.

“I am challenged to ensure that our radio station grows and advances even further,” Marin said. “We cannot continue doing the same thing; we have to grow and upgrade to better equipment that will help us carry out the mission God has given us.”

Radio Lira was established in 1983 as a shortwave radio station on the campus of Central American Adventist University in Alajuela. It initially broadcast 12 hours a day. In 1990, it was upgraded to an FM station broadcasting to 94 percent of the country with 24-hour programming. The station remained on the university campus until 1993, when it moved to the AWR property. In 1998, the station returned to the school campus and remained there until last month, church leaders explained.

A Particular History with AWR

The Adventist radio station Radio Lira has a particular history with AWR, one of its general vice presidents, Ray Allen, said.

“This used to be the center of AWR for this region,” Allen said. “I remember programs produced here would be sent to [a tower on] an extinct volcano because this volcano had the height we needed. A microwave signal was sent from here to the top of Irazu Volcano, and that signal would be sent to another tower in Cahuita [on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica] near the border with Nicaragua, and that would broadcast shortwave to all Spanish-speaking countries.”

The church had originally purchased Radio Lira with the condition that it keep “Lira” in the name, which in English is “lyre,” a stringed instrument. “The radio station needs to continue playing the music of God,” Allen said.

The studio building was the AWR headquarters of the Americas, Allen explained, serving the Inter-American and South American Division of the Adventist Church.

Because several AWR offices had to close in the region in 2004, the property had to be sold, Allen said. “Anyone who came to look at it would say ‘No, that’s not for me,’ and we wondered, how come? Look how beautiful … how can you resist a land like this? But God kept this land as if saying this site needs to be retained so we can continue to proclaim the gospel.”

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A Re-Inauguration of the Premises

In a sense, Allen said, “this is a re-inauguration. We have been here before with God, and today once again with God. May God continue to bless this property so the love embodied in the three angels’ messages can reach many more souls for God.”

AWR purchased the property from an American-run orphanage. It had been an opportunity for AWR to have more space for its operations, since the ministry was outgrowing its space on the campus of the university. But because of strict government policies, it had to be shut down. After AWR left in 2004, the property remained unoccupied for nearly 20 years.

“It’s like we got an old castle, but this is a valuable property,” Marin said. “And we are excited to have invested thousands of dollars to clear out the overgrown wooded areas, refurbish the inside of the main building, acquire modern lightning rods, rewire the electrical system, and clean up a few of the original elements left by AWR.”

The signing for the property took place in 2022 at AWR headquarters in the General Conference, in Maryland, United States. Marin publicly thanked AWR president Duane McKey and former IAD president Israel Leito, who were instrumental in the process of giving the property to SCAUM.

Spreading the Gospel

Leaders of SCAUM are very clear that God preserved the property and its purpose to continue in God’s mission. “Everything we do should be about preaching this beautiful message of salvation, and we vow as a church to continue advancing and growing,” Marin said.

For SCAUM communication director Royner Ramirez, overseeing the refurbishing of the floors, knocking down walls, rewiring, and setting up Radio Lira studios and offices has been an arduous task but one that has sparked opportunities that will see the message reaching out not only to radio listeners but viewers as well. Many of the original fittings were kept, including the wooden paneled ceilings, the doors, much of the wooden furniture in the studios and offices, and studio carpeting and flooring, Ramirez explained. He oversees production along with a production director, a program director, a marketing director, and an assistant production director, who together keep the station running 24 hours a day.

“We want to set up a proper Hope media center right here on this property to target viewers who need to know about Jesus and His love,” Ramirez said. A small television studio has been set up, but plans are being made for a complete media center in the future.

Ramirez said the staff is happy to have moved in a few weeks ago. The inherited building is a reminder for them each day that the world church cares about spreading the gospel through AWR, and a reminder that they are blessed beyond measure to work at a property with such a rich Adventist mission heritage.

‘God’s Boomerang Effect’

Miguel Lara, who has been employed at Radio Lira for nearly two decades, said it is surreal to be back on the property doing what he has loved to do for so many years. He began working there as a student when he was 19 years old.

“I came here to work with Radio Lira and AWR, left for a few years in between, and I consider it a privilege to be part of a place where so much has been produced to spread the message of hope,” Lara said. He’s encouraged that work from the refurbished offices will potentially reach more people than ever before.

In a sense, Radio Lira is following in the footsteps of AWR, taking steps where AWR left off, Allen said. “I call it God’s boomerang effect, where it all circles back.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.