LLBN launches world’s first Adventist Arabic-language television ministry
Ganim Hanna, president and CEO of LLBN, announces the launch of the world’s first Adventist Arabic-language television ministry to viewers and friends. The network will present the gospel to the one quarter of the world’s population who speak Arabic.
After nearly 12 years on the air, the board of directors of Loma Linda Broadcasting Network (LLBN) dedicated the world’s first Adventist Arabic-language television ministry on December 11, 2007, during a special edition of the weekly live talk show, “Christian Connections.”
“This was a joyous time of prayer and praise to God,” says Ganim Hanna, LLBN president and CEO. “We gave thanks for five successful years of national broadcasting here in the United States, as well as our first year of international broadcasting.”
On December 15, the LLBN board of directors celebrated the completion of their first year of international broadcasting by voting to launch the first Adventist all-Arabic language television ministry in the world.
Last month, LLBN hosted a public Arabic Conference to raise awareness about this new venture, including presenters Lawrence Geraty, PhD, LLBN Arabic division chair and president-emeritus of La Sierra University; Edmond Haddad, PhD, LLBN Arabic division vice chair and associate dean, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University; and Jerald Whitehouse, director of the Global Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations.
“The Middle East holds a quarter of the world’s population,” notes Dr. Geraty. “This is the area where Christianity was born, but since then it has fallen on hard times. This is a channel that can reach these people, through the medium of television that virtually everyone has access to.”
Programming will be in Arabic, and will be recorded primarily at the LLBN studio located in Loma Linda. The current programming lineup includes sermons, as well as spiritual, health, and musical programs.
Dr. Geraty was raised in Lebanon, where his father was president of Middle East College (now Middle East University) in Beirut.
Ganim Hanna observes that growing up as a member of the Christian minority in the Middle East made him reluctant, at least initially, to reach out to the people of the region.
“Recently, however, through friends and board members, I believe that God made it clear to me that the Gospel commission does not exclude any group of people on the face of the earth,” he shares. “As a board, we have decided to accept the challenge of beaming God’s message of salvation to the often-neglected Arabic-speaking world.”
Initial distribution will be through Internet streaming, including DVD-quality PCTV and IPTV, a revolutionary method of receiving televised broadcasts via a box connected to an Internet port. By eliminating the need for a computer and going direct to television, IPTV programs are accessible to large numbers of people.
As funding becomes available, the network plans to expand LLBN Arabic to a direct-to-home satellite that is widely popular throughout the Middle East.
According to Mr. Hanna, the LLBN leadership is taking an enormous leap of faith in launching this new channel.
As an independent supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, LLBN is entirely viewer-supported and not funded by any church, organization, or institution. Until this past year when LLBN added its first two paid staff members, it has relied entirely on volunteers to sustain its operation.
“The Gospel commission empowers us,” Mr. Hanna observes. “God shields us, protects us, and helps us grow as we follow His will in ministering to others. We are expecting Him to work miracles as we partner with Him to bring the Gospel to the 200 million Arabic speakers of the world in their own language.”
Mr. Hanna also notes that, since its inception 11 years ago, LLBN has always been a ministry of faith.
“When we launched our international broadcast last year, we didn’t know exactly how we could afford it,” he attests. “We had no fixed income and no paid staff. But the board felt that God was calling us to this volunteer mission, so we stepped out in faith, trusting Him to provide for our needs. We are happy to report that He came through for us in a very big way!”
When they first flipped the switch, sending LLBN’s broadcast signal around the world in November 2006, pastor Dan Matthews hosted a two-hour special in which he told viewers, “We are stepping out in faith to take the Gospel to every kindred, tribe, and people.”
The response was overwhelming. Within a few weeks, viewers responded with enough funds to support the entire operation and pay the international airtime for all of 2007.
As a new year approaches, LLBN begins the fundraising process again. “We have no funds for 2008,” Mr. Hanna explains, “but once again, we’re depending on the Lord.”
He continues, “We are firmly convinced that God wants us not only to continue our mission, but expand it.”
In addition to the inauguration of the all-Arabic network before the end of this year, LLBN hopes to launch a similar network in South Asia in sometime during the next two years.
Readers are invited to learn more about the mission, outreach, and needs of LLBN by visiting the network’s website at <www.llbn.tv>.
By James Ponder and Hannah (Ko) Luttrell