Allen Steele talks about radio—in print

Dr Allen Steele and the cover os his book—God's Air Force.

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After his earlier work with Adventist World Radio (AWR), Dr Allen Steele lectured at Avondale University and was the first CEO of Adventist Media in the South Pacific. Now retired in New Mexico, he continues to work in radio as a volunteer and he recently talked about his work with the early days of AWR and his new book, God’s Air Force.

What prompted you to write God’s Air Force, a history of AWR?

As a champion of using media to accomplish the church’s mission, I felt like my story, as someone with “radio in my blood,” was one that could inspire young people to reach for their goals in whatever profession. As AWR reached its 50th year of existence, I felt its history deserved to be reviewed with the hope that the book would document the AWR story and inspire readers to appreciate and support use of the media by the church. 

What was your contribution to the beginnings of AWR?

As a young Seventh-day Adventist, I not only told the Lord I was willing to go wherever He sent me, but I was ready for an adventure that would expose me to new life vistas, wherever that might be. So a converted office and studio in an old downtown Lisbon [Portugal] apartment building was where AWR got firmly established as a ministry that would become a mainstay for the church in its worldwide mission to share the good news with the world. 

What was your vision when you were working with AWR in its early days?

Having joined AWR in my early 20s, I was so busy just keeping radio programs on the air that I had no time to contemplate what the organisation would become one day. However, I constantly had visions in my mind that it would be wonderful to see the church become so effective in all media, which would become a major thrust for growing the church around the world—more than just radio, powerful as it was.

What is your favourite memory of working with AWR?

Probably my favourite was when the Portuguese military coup took place four years after we arrived in Lisbon to start AWR. My fear was that our broadcasts would be affected by the turmoil in the city or when a new government took power in its aftermath. But, when all other stations in the country were ordered off the air, our broadcasts were permitted to continue. It was one of the clearest moments in my life when I realised that God protects His people and His work.

What does AWR contribute to the mission of the church today?

Far and away, AWR has become the best example of how to reach people for the Lord. Radio messages are personal to the person listening and the radio speaker becomes that person’s best friend. AWR has also demonstrated how productive constant contact with the public can be in preparing them for church membership. I am happy to see that the powerful idea of reaching large numbers of people via the media has prompted church entities around the world to expand their ministry to include modern media to speak to the world. AWR has also demonstrated to repressive governments that nothing will stop the Adventist church from penetrating every corner of the world with its important message.

How can church members engage with the mission and ministry of AWR?

Engagement can be in different ways: financial support, prayer support and promotion of media use by the church. Far too often we still hear from detractors who for whatever reason decry use of the media for growing the church.

What can we learn from the story of AWR for our own faith?

That biblical adage—“faith comes by hearing”—is very true. We must get our message out to the world because time is not on our side—this is urgent business!

God’s Air Force is available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.

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