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Illinois Christian radio stations deliver message of Christ to thousands

Nearly 200,000 listeners tune in each week to New Life Radio, an arm of the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God. In 25 years the ministry has grown from a single station to a network of nine stations and six translators that broadcast in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. Listeners from around the world are also tuning in through the Internet.

"We offer everything listeners would expect from a secular station except our music and focus is Christ," says Richard Whitworth, director of radio ministry for the district. "We are broadcast professionals whose mission is to reach people for Christ through radio."

WIBI Morning Show co-hosts Donna Collins and Paul Anthony

New Life Radio airs weather forecasts, encouragement, news and programs from Christian leaders like James Dobson, Jack Hayford, Larry Burkett and Chuck Colson. But contemporary Christian music remains its most cogent evangelism tool.

"It never ceases to amaze me how powerful songs are at touching people’s hearts and opening their lives to areas where God wants them to make some changes," says Colleen Weir, public relations director and afternoon radio personality for WIBI, New Life’s mother station.

Combining good music with tips on practical Christian living has drawn listeners who are hungry for something that is good and useful for their lives, souls and minds.

"Each year we receive thousands of letters, calls and e-mails from listeners, many who have found Christ from listening to our stations," says Whitworth. "This ministry is so effective because it goes where we [as Christians] can’t always go."

"This is definitely a ministry," adds Weir. "Since I have been here I have seen God use New Life Radio to help turn people’s lives around."

Each day when Weir’s mid-day program begins, she prays on air. The station also broadcasts a verse of the day, and Weir and the other radio personalities pepper their programs with stories of their faith. But, much of the one-on-one prayer, counseling and ministry takes place off the air – a facet of Weir’s job she loves.

"I had turned my back on my faith and was walking down a rocky road that was all my own making," wrote one listener. "Now I have a wonderful church family, I have rediscovered the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and have a peace in me that I have never known. WIBI has played a significant part in this journey and continues to do so."

The stations are commercial-free and support comes from churches, businesses and individuals. The cost to run each station per year ranges from $95,000 to $500,000.

Last year, New Life Radio partnered with Book of Hope and distributed evangelistic material in Russia. While there, New Life Radio also held radio seminars for leaders of Russia’s government. Plans are under way to go back this year.

"Our bottom line is to reach people," says Whitworth. "We want to represent Christ through contemporary media as best as we are able."

Listeners think New Life Radio is hitting that mark.

"It seems like every time I listen God uses you and your station to touch my life in some way," wrote a listener. "If it’s not the music, it’s the talk shows or the Scripture verse for the day. You guys really know how to make your listeners feel like they are a part of your radio family."

— Kirk Noonan


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