Ice-Cream Containers & Pesky Crows: Radio Light Is Reaching the Yao in Malawi [News]

March 15, 2018

(March 15, 2018 - by Theresa With) 

Three large ice-cream shipping containers arrived in Malawi, South Africa from Johannesburg several months ago. The extreme heat in Malawi does make it a good place to enjoy such a cold treat, except that these particular containers were not filled with ice cream. Instead, they carried three brand new radio studios and radio equipment. Now, thanks to Reach Beyond engineers and some local ingenuity, these large former shipping boxes are being used to take the gospel to an unengaged people group, the Yao.

Workers install the antennas in Sep. 2017.Once the equipment arrived, Reach Beyond missionary Alex Walker and a retired South African technician finished building the studio and hoisted a radio tower. Volunteers from the national partner ministry began working on the studio and preparing programs and music. Radio Lilanguka (Radio Light) was born!

The new station is a community project operating in a largely non-Christian culture. Programming consists of uplifting presentations from a Christian perspective and informational teaching for women. It also offers preaching, Bible study and Scripture reading from the Yao translation of the Bible.

Since October of last year, a team comprised of Reach Beyond missionaries and partners in Malawi have worked long hours to test the broadcast schedule. The station began broadcasting full-time and already has good listenership in the area. Calls are coming in from the Mangochi District with people overjoyed that they can listen to radio programs in their heart language.

Malawi and The Yao

Sandwiched between Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique, Malawi is in the southern central part of Africa, with a huge fresh-water lake. This small country is home to nearly two million Yao people, an unreached people, 99% of which follow the Muslim faith. Though spread across other parts of central Africa, the majority of the Yao reside in southern Malawi. Up until the last decade, Christian evangelism in Malawi has had little traction with the Yao, with low literacy rates, cultural divisions and poverty posting stark challenges to the gospel.

Map of Malawi/Mangochi.Situated on Lake Malawi in the city of Mangochi, Radio Lilanguka’s signal can reach about a 50-mile radius and a potential audience of one million, bringing hope, education and the gospel to listeners.


Faithful God and Partnership

The journey to the launch of the Malawi station began in 1998. Sandy Day, administrator for the then newly formed Radio Africa Network, was asked to help missionaries in Mangochi set up a community radio station among the Yao. In a letter to several organizations, Day pleaded, "Let’s work together towards the common goal, which is to spread the Gospel through community radio.” The intent and purpose of the station was to be a ministry of transforming lives and communities.

Along the way, licenses were applied for, denied, then granted, revoked and reinstated. Equipment was delayed and withheld. Plans changed, people changed. The birth and realization of the station came through the collaboration and efforts of key partnerships in the region and Reach Beyond. Together these partners obtained licenses, donated land and equipment, and provided installation expertise and training. Additionally, South African Christian business people gave key equipment. More recently, through contributions from donors, Reach Beyond has been able to send 600 SonSet® radios (fixed-tuned to the new station) for distribution in the surrounding communities.

Kondwani Chavula, station manager for Radio Lilanguka.Through it all, God has proved His faithfulness. Paul Kraenzler, project manager at Radio Lilanguka, described some of the tangible ways they’ve seen God provide. “At the beginning, there was little hope that the station would ever materialize. But all of a sudden God made the authorities issue the license. Then He sent people who were interested in running a station to reach the Yao, and a station manager with the education and vision for such a project.” Finally, after many years of planning and challenges, Radio Light is officially on the air bringing the light of the gospel to the people of this region.

Pesky Crows and Other Challenges

Kraenzler admits there are still challenges, such as struggles with equipment and programming and insufficient cooling for the equipment.

So where do the pesky crows come in? Ask Alex Walker! At one point a few crows were causing damage to the antenna connection from their consistent pecking at the sealing tape. With recommendations from Walker and the help of another missionary, the antenna connection was restored. End of crow situation!

Kraenzler also reported news of a message that was circulating among the Yao, instructing them not to listen. Religious leaders in the region felt threatened when discovering that over 1,500 people had come to Christ in five years through the witness of missionaries and local churches. With tensions like this rising, much ongoing prayer is needed for the team at Radio Lilanguka.

Blessings in the Midst

Radio Lilanguka employees perform in celebration of the station.In the midst of it all, blessings have also been evident. Kraenzler stated, “We are thankful that God enabled us, together with other partners, to start a new radio station in Malawi.”

Day went on to say, “It has been a blessing to see organizations bringing their skills and resources to this project to reach this people group together for God's glory. That’s the beauty of partnership and collaboration.” With efforts like these, the Yao are moving closer from being an insulated people to a people transformed into “a source of joy to Jesus”.




Pray for spiritual barriers to be broken among the Yao and  for God to prepare hearts to be open to the gospel.

SOURCES: Reach Beyond, Radio Africa Network, Joshua Project, Nyasa Times;

Images used with permission by Kondwani Magombo-Mana, Nysa Times (Malawi); and


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