May 20, 2018

In Bonaire, Adventists Launch First Radio Station in the Dutch Caribbean

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Dutch Caribbean territory inaugurated its first radio station on the island of Bonaire earlier this month with a special ceremony. Church leaders, church members, and government officials witnessed the historic event at the brand-new site in Kralendijk at the head office of the Bonaire Adventist Mission.

Lieutenant Governor of Bonaire Edison Rijna congratulated the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its contribution to the community on the island.

“The spiritual messages to be transmitted through the Adventist Radio from now on will have a positive influence especially on the Christian community in Bonaire,” said Rijna. “The church is indispensable in the life of many people here in Bonaire.”

With a population of over 19,000 in Bonaire and a church membership of 414, the new radio station will soon run local programming through the airwaves 24 hours a day, according to Shurman Kook, president of the church in the Dutch Caribbean territory. The church region comprises the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.

“We believe this is God’s time for His church to proclaim His Word through this radio station,” said Kook.

It’s all about proclaiming Jesus’ last message of salvation, said Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America. “This radio station’s purpose is to communicate Jesus’s love for His people before he comes.”

Local church leaders praised the commitment of church members who donated funds and to Adventist World Radio (AWR) for donating the newest in broadcasting equipment for the new studio.

Cami Oetman, AWR vice-president for advancement, congratulated church leaders and encouraged the membership to continue “using this tool to proclaim His soon coming to the people in the Dutch Caribbean.”

The church had dreamed of having its own radio station but obtaining a broadcast license costs a fortune, and the radio bandwidth is full, said Kook.

In 2016, church leaders saw an advertisement in the Dutch newspaper, which indicated the possibility of obtaining the commercial license of a radio station in Bonaire that had gone bankrupt. So the church voted to make a low bid and was able to purchase the station, explained Kook.

The local mission office had already been airing a daily one-hour program and moved quickly to build a studio to house Radio Atventista Boneiru 91.1 FM station on the premises of the Office of the Bonaire Mission in Kralendijk.

The radio station is airing in Papiamento, the main language spoken in Bonaire, and will air for 12-hours daily and repeat its programming in the evening as soon as it receives approval by the Union Control Board, said Kook. The station is also on the internet and is run by pastors and church member volunteers.

The idea is to broadcast also in other languages. However, given the demographics of the island, most programs will be in Papiamento. Music is also played in the four main languages spoken in Bonaire, which also include English, Spanish, and Dutch.

The acquisition of the radio station in Bonaire is the first step toward establishing a station on the islands of Aruba and Curacao, said Kook.

“We want to establish a radio network that will cover the entire Dutch Caribbean region and the Papiamento speaking population wherever they are on the planet because Jesus is coming soon,” Kook said.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bonaire has 414 church members worshiping in three churches and one small congregation.