The area left with silent radio receivers is largely composed of immigrants who are 97 percent Hindu, Sikh and Muslim. Many arrived in Fiji as indentured servants. Decades of former British rule ending in 1970 and four military coups in the last 20 years have left these minorities in poverty, spiritual darkness and racial segregation.
Photo: High winds from Cyclone Evan buffeted the partner FM repeater station in Sigatoka, Fiji, knocking it off the air in mid-December. More than 300,000 people in western Fiji remain without Christian broadcasts
Two of the four HCJB partner Radio Light outlets still without towers eliminated coverage to 300,000 people, a full half of the former 600,000 listening audience. The outlets broadcast a wide variety of content, including news, Christian programming, weather, music, social programming and community service announcements.
When Fiji's electrical grid was shut down by the cyclone, Radio Light first used diesel generators to continue operation. While the base stations ultimately regained power, the two repeaters that extend the reach of the base stations to one-half of Fiji did not survive. When reconnected to the power grid, they were permanently damaged by strong power surges.
The two repeater outlets incurred more than $30,000 in damages. In addition to wreaking havoc on Fiji, Tropical Cyclone Evan also caused damages of $15,000 to HCJB Global's partner stations on nearby Samoa.
Fiji is home to nearly 900,000 people on more than 300 islands. Located 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand, it is easy prey to frequent storms.
Alcoholism, drug abuse and broken homes are widespread in the affected area. Radio Light's previous broadcasts are now silenced on vital spiritual solutions to these deeply rooted social issues, including AIDS, poverty and social integration for these immigrants.
"It is imperative we restore power as quickly as possible to these 300,000 listeners," said Pederson. "These minorities are dependent on us for much more than news and weather. We must send them the message of love, hope and inspiration."
To help restore the Christian message to these 300,000 people, visit www.hcjb.org/give-to-priority-projects.html.
For 81 years the passion of HCJB Global (www.hcjbglobal.org) has been to make disciples of Christ. Using mass media, healthcare and education and working with partners around the world, HCJB Global has ministries in more than 100 countries. The gospel is aired in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are meeting Jesus. Local believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters and healthcare providers.