Faith FM goes to air across outback Australia

AUC president Pastor Jorge Munoz, ATSIM director Pastor Darren Garlett and Faith FM coordinator Michael Engelbrecht at the November 27 launch.

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Faith FM has hit the airwaves across outback Australia, 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, held at the Australian Union Conference (AUC) headquarters in Melbourne (Vic).

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, cattle stations and grey nomads all rely on this service to keep them connected with the rest of Australia.

“With the flick of a switch today, we are able to 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 amongst 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 Pastor 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.”

An Indigenous family from a remote community watch TV. (Photo: Don Felhberg)

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 kilometres. The people in these remote communities rely on VAST rather than FM receivers as their primary means of listening to radio. After a discussion with Mr 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”.

With Faith FM now on VAST, we have yet another avenue to nurture the faith of our people,” said Pastor Fehlberg.

“It was amazing to see how God brought all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together,” said Mr Engelbrecht. “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 Pastor 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 Pastor Jorge Munoz. “It is our prayer that this will be yet another way for us to connect people to Christ.”

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