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“The supreme and, in a sense, the only task of the Church is to preach the Word of God. But if there is a Word of God to be proclaimed by the Church, it must needs be a Word which God Himself speaks, and which He speaks concerning Himself. And if God speaks concerning Himself, the basic and all-pervading note of that speech must inevitably be: I am God! Unless the Church proclaims this truth in all its implications, in all its purity and without compromise, she cannot preach, she has nothing to say. Unless she proclaims this truth, not as one of the tenets of her faith but as the truth of all truths, not occasionally but always, she forfeits the right and lacks the power to say anything at all about man, the world, Christ, salvation, life and death, sin and grace. We hope to make this the theme of our radio broadcasts, whatever may be the particular subject of discussion, whether we speak of Him directly or of man, of Christ and salvation, of the Church and the world, of sin and grace, of life and death. God is God!” Rev. Hoeksema, Radio message, October 12, 1941.


As all regular readers of the Standard Bearer know, this Reformed magazine is an independent publication. It is not the official magazine of the Protestant Reformed Churches, although closely associated with them, and it is an unashamed defender of the truth that is, by God’s grace, still maintained by the Protestant Reformed Churches.

A similar (though not identical) kind of relationship exists between the Protestant Reformed Churches and the Reformed Witness Hour. The Reformed Witness Hour (RWH) is a program broadcast weekly on over twenty-one radio stations in the USA and Canada. It is also heard weekly in Northern Ireland and in the Philippines. The RWH is in its seventy-third year of broadcasting. The message of the RWH is also unashamedly Protestant Reformed—the sovereignty of God in all things.

The RWH recently held a rally after an evening worship service in First PRC in Grand Rapids. The hour plus program was informative and uplifting. If you have opportunity to attend such a rally in the future, do attend. You will not be disappointed.

The history of the RWH is fascinating. It began as the “Protestant Reformed Radio Hour” in 1941. The Young Men’s Society of First PRC sponsored the project. They printed fliers and placed advertisements in the local Grand Rapids newspaper. In the Standard Bearer there was little notice given. However, the “News From Our Churches” in the October 15, 1941 issue devoted a fair amount of space to the new program. It begins:

I am sure that you agree with me when I make the statement that it is good news for every Reformed thinker that the Rev. H. Hoeksema now speaks over the radio, and promised to do so, D. V., for a period of 39 weeks. Remember the time—every Sunday afternoon from 4:15 until 5:00, over station WLAV, 1340 on your dial. This radio hour is sponsored by the Young Men’s Society of the First Protestant Reformed Church.

Although he originally committed to only 39 weeks, Rev. Hoeksema would serve as the speaker for some twenty-three years! On the first broadcast (October 12, 1941), Rev. Hoeksema gave a powerful message entitled “God is God.” (This message can be found in Knowing God and Man, published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association, pp. 3-12.) A specially assembled radio choir and the Men’s Chorus from First PRC provided music.

The excitement caught on in the Protestant Reformed Churches also in the West. In the March 1, 1942 SB, the “News From Our Western Churches” reported on a similar use of radio west of the Mississippi:

Also here, it will soon be possible for one to listen to a Protestant Reformed Radio Hour. It will be sponsored by the Western League of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies, over KSOO, the 5000 watt station at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sixteen young people selected from the various societies will provide for the music and local ministers will do the speaking. The broadcasts will be given from 4:15pm-4:45pm on Sunday afternoons throughout the months of April and May. They will be given by transcription since this proves to be more economical. All the programs can be recorded at home at less cost than the travelling expenses would be if all those participating in the program were to travel to Sioux Falls for each broadcast. And this also makes it possible for the minister that takes part in a broadcast to preach for his congregation that same afternoon, which otherwise could not possibly be done.

The Protestant Reformed Radio Hour became the Reformed Witness Hour in 1942. In 1945, First PRC took the oversight of the program. At that time a Radio Committee was formed to oversee the broadcast, which it still does. Representatives of the consistory of First also serve on the committee.

When a radio station was founded in Grand Rapids that was devoted to Christian programming (WFUR), the RWH switched to the new station. Initially WFUR came to the church for live broadcasts. Later a direct feed to the station was set up for broadcasting.

The RWH was devoted to proclaiming the truth far and wide. The committee often worked hand in hand with the PRC mission program. With the influx of Dutch immigrants to Canada after World War II, a special Dutch version of the RWH was produced, with Rev. Gerrit Vos as the speaker. Broadcast only in Canada, it lasted from the late 1940s through the early 1950s. At one time the RWH was also sent out via shortwave radio to various places in the world.

A number of things are worthy of note in this history. The first is that the Young Men’s Society and the Young People’s Societies were the sponsors of what became the RWH. The youth in the churches—late teens and early twenties—were energetic for the cause of broadcasting the Reformed faith to the world. These were youth, I have to believe, who were from families still in their first love. They came out of homes where the truth was discussed, and they took part in society life that included debates and discussion on the Reformed faith.

These youth wanted the world, also the Reformed church world, to hear the gospel of sovereign, particular grace set forth antithetically. These youth were only barely coming out of the depression. If they worked for minimum wage, they earned 30¢ an hour. They did not have automobiles, extra spending money, or loads of time. They worked long hours, perhaps also studying in college. Many of the young men faced the real possibility of being drafted into the military—war loomed large. But they had enthusiasm for, expended their energies toward, and contributed financially to broadcasting the truth on the radio.

Second, it is interesting that they wanted to use the radio. Radio was just coming into its own in America. The technology for radios in the home was available from the 1920s, but few Americans had money for a radio through the depression years. By 1941, the price for a radio had come down to around $20, and in the northern states (like Michigan), the percentage of homes with a radio was well over 50%. The primary use of radio in that day was news and entertainment. Yet, they, Rev. Hoeksema and many members of the PRC, were convinced that they ought to use this increasingly popular medium to proclaim the truth given to them. (The Christian Reformed Church, much larger, had begun to transmit the Back to God Hour only two years earlier.) The youth and Rev. Hoeksema were not hesitant to use this new means to send forth the gospel.

The use of modern technology is crucial for the RWH. Things have changed much in that regard. Just twenty years ago, a pastor outside of Grand Rapids who agreed to record a few messages for the RWH would be required to record them in a local radio station, and then send the cassette tapes by mail to Grand Rapids. In those days radio stations complained of the poor quality of the RWH recordings. Today, the messages are recorded on MP3 players, sent electronically to the Radio Committee, combined with music and announcements, and made available to radio stations by download from the “cloud.”

Third, the seventy-two-year history of the RWH conflicts with the common caricature of the Protestant Reformed Churches that they have little interest in missions. Clearly there was a zeal for this work in 1941. For over 72 years the Protestant Reformed Churches have been privileged to send out the gospel over the radio waves. And although the Radio Committee and First Protestant Reformed Church have “run” the program all this time, the Protestant Reformed Churches have used the RWH to broadcast into areas where the mission committees are working, or hope to generate interest in the Reformed faith.

In that connection, the radio broadcasts of the RWH might well be the least part of getting the message out. The radio messages are printed and mailed upon request. And all the programs are available for downloading on the Internet. People search for and download messages by the thousands each month. From where? You might be surprised. Some of the larger numbers are from Singapore, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and there are many more countries. Some download radio messages in oppressive communist countries, others in Muslim-controlled areas of the world.

As you can see, this is exciting work! Through the RWH the Word goes to many places not readily accessible by missionaries. The RWH is casting the bread upon the waters (Eccl. 11:1). In the Lord’s good time, it will be found.

Fourth, the intent of the RWH is to proclaim the same truth as that proclaimed in the initial message of Rev. Hoeksema—God is God. Looking at the list of the latest messages on the RWH website, I see such titles as “Alpha and Omega,” “By Faith Looking for a City,” and “God’s Everlasting Glory.” Some are more practical, but all the messages are exegetical, expositions of a verse or passage of the Bible. And this is crucial for the RWH. The unflinching determination of the Radio Committee must ever be to deliver that same message. Not man, not his plans or purposes or feelings, but God is to be proclaimed. The sovereign power of God in all things, including salvation, must be set forth over against the sinfulness and helplessness of man. If the RWH fails to do that, it has no purpose and no reason to exist.

However, in these evil days, such a message will not be long tolerated. Man grows increasingly bold in his defiance of God and His standards. The Reformed witness must go forth clearly and boldly. Such a work is worthy of our financial support, our prayers, and our labors.

And just a word about financial support. The RWH depends almost entirely on contributions— church collections and other gifts. The Radio Committee runs a tight ship financially, the labors of the committee are all volunteer, and still it is not unusual for the committee to be operating in the red. I urge you to consider this worthy cause and give generously.

It is my hope and prayer that God will stir up young men and women to assist in this work. I know there are many—very many— young men and women in the PRC who have a zeal for the Reformed faith that God has entrusted to their churches and thus to them. The witness of the RWH can expand if the Radio Committee membership swells to include many more members, especially younger members with time, energy, and new ideas. More innovation, new opportunities, more hearers. Who knows what the Lord has in store for us in the end of the ages? It remains for us to continue the work begun by the Young Men’s Society over 72 years ago, faithfully sounding forth the gospel by every means available.


Reformed Witness Hour Station Listings

Station         Location                                               Frequency                               Time/day

KARI…………..Blaine, WA………………………………………….550AM……………………8:00 p.m./Sunday

KCWN…………Pella, IA………………………………………………99.9FM………………….3:30 p.m./Sunday

KDCR…………..Sioux Center, IA…………………………………..88.5FM………………….5:00 p.m./Sunday

KGDN………….Tri-Cities Walla Walla, OR……………………….101.3FM…………….5:00 p.m./Sunday

KLOH…………..Pipestone, MN……………………………………..1050AM………………… 8:00 a.m./Sunday

KLTT……………Denver, CO………………………………………….670AM…………………..1:30 p.m./Sunday

KPRO…………..Riverside, CA………………………………………..1570AM…………………11:30 a.m./Sunday

KSPO……………Spokane, WA…………………………106.5FM………………..5:00 p.m./Sunday

KTAC……………Moses Lake, WA…………………………………….93.9FM………………….5:00 p.m./Sunday

KTBI……………Wenatchee/Moses Lake, WA……………810AM……………….5:00 p.m./Sunday

KTRW………….Spokane, WA…………………………………………630AM………………….. 9:30 a.m./Sunday

KYAK……………Yakima, WA………………………………………….930AM……………………5:00 p.m./Sunday

WFDL………….Fond Du Lac, WI……………………………………..930AM…………………..6:30 p.m./Sunday

WFUR………….Grand Rapids, MI…………………………………….102.9FM……………….. 8:00 a.m./Sunday

WFUR………….Grand Rapids, MI…………………………………….1570AM………………….4:00 p.m./Sunday

WORD…………Pittsburgh, PA…………………………………………101.5FM…………………10:00 a.m./Sunday

WPFG………….Carlisle, PA…………………………………………91.3FM…………………..8:00a.m./Sunday

HOPE Radio

…………………..Nassau & West Suffolk County………………..101.5FM…………….. 8:30 a.m./Sunday

…………………..West/Central Suffolk County……………………94.5FM……………… 8:30 a.m./Sunday

…………………..Central Suffolk County…………………………..104.5FM…………….. 8:30 a.m./Sunday

…………………..Central/East Suffolk County…………………….96.5FM……………… 8:30 a.m./Sunday

…………………..Central/East Suffolk County…………………….96.9FM………………. 8:30 a.m./Sunday

…………………..Central/East Suffolk County…………………….107.1FM…………….. 8:30 a.m./Sunday

UK

GOSPEL………Northern Ireland………………………………….846AM……………….8:30a.m./Sunday

Philippines

DYSB…………Philippines………………………………………….1197AM……………….6:30 p.m./Sunday

Canada

CKNX…………Wingham, ON………………………………………920 AM……………….7:00a.m./Sunday