May 19th 2011
50 Years of Hungarian Broadcasts: Part 1
“…less than one percent of Hungarians were born-again Christians…”
Trans World Radio’s first Hungarian program in Monte Carlo went on the air on July 5, 1961. There were several programs that were prepared in the beginning:
Prepare the Way of the Lord
This was an evangelistic program involving many pastors and laymen on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Since less than one percent of Hungarians living in Hungary and neighboring countries were born-again Christians, there was a great need to evangelize.
There were many reasons for a children-focused program on TWR. The communist government in Hungary had a very strong influence on young children in the early 1960s. Education in the schools was strongly atheistic. Youth organizations were developed to further spread that atheism. Nothing related to God was mentioned. Sunday school was not permitted.
Through the Bible
When Trans World Radio’s work began from Monte Carlo, there were many uneducated pastors in Hungary, and many churches were without pastors entirely. It was therefore very important to provide a solid biblical education for the Hungarian people. The first international TTB project was Hungarian, and Joseph Steiner was the first to produce it.
Science and the Bible
Since communist countries place such a strong emphasis on science rather than on God or the Bible, it was very important to have a program that dealt with science and biblical truth. This science program was further developed and eventually became the Radio Academy of Science, being directed by David Fisher and broadcast by TWR in many languages.
Dr. Geza Kovacs structured this program as a casual discussion forum, which made it a new literary style for the Hungarian programs. The purpose was to bring the Gospel message very near to the everyday life of the listeners, and in many cases the participants used a debate style to accomplish this. The programs dealt with issues such as the family, the last days, and the person, work, and gift of the Holy Spirit.
It was about three months after the broadcasts began before TWR received a letter from a listener, but the letters soon began to come in such great numbers that it became difficult to reply to all of them. At that point, TWR Hungarian broadcasts introduced a follow-up ministry for their listeners.
Source: Joseph Steiner’s book Trans World Radio’s Hungarian Broadcast from 1961 to 1996
Photos: TWR Archive