September 19, 2020

Navajos Take to the Airwaves

Mid-America Union Conference Outlook 

Seventh-day Adventist Church member Kyle Boyd is sensing that God has given him a special opportunity to reach out to his fellow Navajo tribal members in the United States. “Our people are desperately searching for hope,” he says. Recently, he was able to realize his dream of sharing God’s message in a very special way.

In 2019, Boyd heard from members at his home church of La Vida Mission in Farmington, New Mexico, of an idea to establish a radio station to reach the Navajo Nation with God’s last-day message. He immediately volunteered and discovered that the Voice of Prophecy had produced programs for the Navajo many years ago. That source, with updated scripts from long ago, forms the basis of Boyd’s ministry. On August 2, 2020, his voice was heard for the first time around the vast reservation — the largest in North America — and his ministry was launched.

The original dream of Navajo church members was to acquire their own radio station. However, a plan to participate in a radio license auction scheduled earlier this year was foiled when the coronavirus epidemic hit the United States. The auction to be held by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was postponed.

The church members saw the postponement as a mere delay, however, and their strategy changed to the concept of a trial run on KTNN, the most powerful station on the reservation. Thanks to numerous private donations and a sizable contribution to the project from Adventist World Radio, the group had enough funds to buy airtime on the station known as “The Voice of the Navajo Nation.”

They had no expectations for receiving feedback from listeners after their first half-hour on the air, but four listeners called for the Bible study course they offered. Three programs on, five more people asked for Bible studies.

Kyle Boyd is assisted by Michael Mace, a volunteer at La Vida Mission, who was previously involved with setting up a studio. He is a nine-year French missionary veteran who has worked in Adventist broadcasting internationally. He came to La Vida Mission not knowing he would be involved in radio ministry. “I just applied, and God's will had to be done, right? So now I know there was a radio behind [God’s plan], but I didn’t know that before I came,” Mace said. He set up the studio and serves as an engineer.

La Vida Mission director Steve Gillham said, “We have had this dream of winning the reservation for Christ. We just kept asking ourselves here on the front lines, ‘What can we do?’ and we talked it up when we were around others.” They got Allen Steele’s ear, he said, and “we talked to others involved, and in God’s providence, word came from AWR [that there was] interest in a Navajo station.”

Now, programs are on the air, and people are requesting Bible studies. La Vida Mission has increased its outreach among the Navajos.

The surprise early response has energized the program producers in their new work of preparing radio programs and follow-up that the requests have generated. To produce programs, three church conferences with territory in the Navajo Nation agreed to make programs possible by installing small production studios where tribal members can conveniently record their radio messages.

The Rocky Mountain Conference helped fund a studio at La Vida Mission in San Juan County, New Mexico. The Arizona Conference installed a studio at the Adventist church in Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation. The Texico Conference installed a studio at its Gallup church in the western part of the state. Holbrook Indian School in eastern Arizona also has a studio and hopes to involve students in the programs. Thanks to a weekend of training by Allen Steele, a former AWR vice president, a dozen volunteer program producers were ready to go into action.

Until the next opportunity arises for Navajo church members to acquire their own station, the trial run has convinced them that radio ministry is the best way to reach out to the vast desert expanse of their territory that straddles the three states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

Rajmund Dabrowski contributed to this report.

The original version of this story was posted on the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.