With tensions rising about a possible Russian invasion into Ukraine, Christian radio station “New Life Radio” is continuing its ministry during the crisis.
New Life Radio moved to Odessa, Ukraine, several years ago in response to increasingly restrictive Russian laws. With the current threat of Russian military invasion, the station is preparing for another potential move of its headquarters. The station operated in Russia for over 20 years.
New Life’s founder and organizer Daniel Johnson says, “The importance of Christian radio is we can ensure Russian-speakers get solid biblical teaching and sound doctrine in a way that sort of overcomes their inability to currently get it,” Johnson said.
“If the evangelical church is stopped by the government from evangelizing and doing public discipleship, what’s the next vehicle that could help accomplish that? Christian radio.”
Johnson moved from the U.S. to Russia in the early 1990s to start a Christian radio station in partnership with a group of Russian Christians. Johnson returned to live in the U.S. in the early 2000s but continues to serve.
New Life Radio, the first Christian FM radio station in the history of the country, was launched as an FM station broadcasting from Magadan, Russia. With the use of satellite radio New Life expanded its reach to broadcast nationwide in Russia, as well as in several surrounding Russian-speaking nations.
Russian laws in the early ‘90s allowed more media freedom, making it “the best time to start Christian radio.” From the beginning, Johnson said all of the station’s content has been focused on communicating biblical teaching to Russian Christians.
“The Russian Church is woefully malnourished in their understanding of the Scriptures, so our first priority is communicating the Scriptures,” Johnson said.
“The challenge for our radio station is to teach the whole plan of God to our listenership, which includes understanding Genesis to Revelation. Ultimately the best information you can put on Christian radio are the Scriptures.”
Johnson described the content of the station as 65 percent music that “biblically teaches” and 35 percent Scriptural content and expository preaching.
For the music, the station originally played songs mostly in English because there was hardly any available Christian music recorded in Russian, but now broadcasts a great deal of Russian musical content.
Even before the current crisis, New Life has faced its share of challenges and adversity. During the presidency of Vladimir Putin, laws affecting both the freedom of Christian evangelism and the freedom of media increased gradually, threatening a shutdown of the station’s headquarters in Magadan, prompting the move Ukraine.
Now facing another relocation, Johnson said moving would simply be a matter of packing up the station’s bags and driving several hours across the border to Moldova. The team would then begin to evaluate the permanence of the move and how to proceed.
Johnson asked American Christians to pray not only for New Life, but also for the nations of Russia and Ukraine as a whole.
“The first thing I think people can pray for is peace between these two countries because with peace everything else is possible,” Johnson said. “Pray that God would intervene in the lives of these two people groups. Pray for the political leaders in Russia, Ukraine and America.
“Additionally, pray that the Russian government would relax the laws against the Church, and pray for the existing ministries like us that are able to do work across Russia and Ukraine.”
More information about New Life Radio can be found HERE.