Faith FM, a Seventh-day Adventist radio station in Australia, has hit the airwaves across the remote region known as the outback, reaching a potential audience of nearly one million people.
Available on Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) channel 688, the new radio station was officially launched during the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM) end-of-year meetings on November 27, 2018, held at the Australian Union Conference (AUC) headquarters in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
VAST is an Australian government initiative providing free-to-air radio and television services to Australians living in remote areas outside of normal coverage areas. Remote communities, residents of cattle stations, and grey nomads (traveling retirees) all rely on this service to keep them connected with the rest of Australia.
“With the flick of a switch today, we can reach another 350,000 homes across Australia, and this means Faith FM is now reaching a potential audience of 6 million people,” said AUC Faith FM coordinator Michael Engelbrecht. “The success of free-to-air radio services is due to the fact that broadcasts are highly discoverable among a handful of channels — they are not lost in the sea of digital choice. Faith FM is leading people to Christ across our nation.”
AUC media project officer Murray Hunter said an advantage of VAST is that it’s accessible anywhere in Australia, not just in the outback.
“People living in capital cities can tune in to Faith FM by installing a VAST receiver in their home,” he said. “Grey nomads and people in remote communities with a VAST system do not need to do anything special to tune in to Faith FM — they can simply go to Faith FM on VAST radio channel 688.”
During the launch, Mamarapha College liaison and remote area pastor Don Fehlberg shared stories of people in remote communities, such as Timber Creek in the Northern Territory and Ngumpan and Wangkatjungka in Western Australia, where there is no church for hundreds of miles. The people in these remote communities rely on VAST rather than FM receivers as their primary means of listening to the radio. After a discussion with Engelbrecht about the impact of Faith FM in Tennant Creek, the conversation turned to the potential of extending the radio station into other communities, and came “at just the right time.”
“3ABN was launched on VAST in July last year, and since then, these people are being ministered to through Seventh-day Adventist television programming,” said Fehlberg. “With Faith FM now on VAST, we have yet another avenue to nurture the faith of our people.”
“It was amazing to see how God brought all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together,” Engelbrecht said. “After hearing how Adventists in Albury had rallied together to reach their town through radio, an Adventist builder approached us in January, keen to help us reach another town for Christ. Little did we imagine how God would use his sacrificial gift to reach not just one town but the whole of outback Australia!”
AUC ATSIM director Darren Garlett said the Indigenous ministry is excited about the opportunities presented through the new radio network. “As Faith FM reaches into our remote communities, ATSIM is looking forward to establishing a weekly program to connect with our people around the country,” he said. “We look forward to being able to nurture and connect with our people through Faith FM.”
“We are excited about the launch of Faith FM on the VAST network and are thankful for the ongoing support of our church members to share the gospel through this medium of radio,” said AUC president Jorge Munoz. “It is our prayer that this will be yet another way for us to connect people to Christ.”