MAF celebrates the power of radio in PNG on 'World Radio Day'

Published: 13 Feb 2021

Founders of CRMF: Claude D’Evelynes, Syd McLeod-Jones and Bob Hartnell

Through the decades, we see what 'MAF Technologies PNG' has achieved through the power of radio - saving lives, sharing the Gospel and connecting the isolated…

'MAF Technologies PNG' - formerly known as CRMF - launched in 1956, five years after MAF first established its operations in Papua New Guinea.

Australian WW2 veterans Claude D’Evelynes, Syd McLeod-Jones and Bob Hartnell set up a radio transceiver, which broadcast the Gospel to radio stations and portable short-wave transmitters used by missionaries across Australia and New Zealand.

Former PNG radio engineer, Graham Spendlove, in CRMF’s workshop back in 1969

‘It was in the “olden days” before computers, satellite, mobiles, solar power, emails and WiFi, which we all rely on so much now! How much has technology grown? The Lord is just as faithful today as He was 50 years ago.

If a mission wanted to send a message to Australia, they would call us on their sked time and give us their message. We would relay their message to Telecom in Mount Hagen who would send a telegram to the Australian Post Office. When a reply came back, we would send it back to the mission in the same way. It could take days before they got a reply.’

Graham Spendlove, one of MAF's first radio engineers

It became clear that the people of PNG needed a reliable communications network. Initially, the team set up a hydro-electric power station to transmit radio from Rugli in the country’s Western Highlands, establishing PNG’s own high frequency (HF) network.

One of CRMF’s early transceivers

MAF develop HF radio email

For around 40 years, radio was broadcast from Rugli and hundreds of remote people got to hear about Jesus Christ.

MAF flew engineers, like Graham Spendlove, who installed radios in very isolated villages across PNG.

In 1993, MAF Technologies PNG relocated to Goroka in Eastern Highlands Province and the team broadcast from a Salvation Army hall until a purpose-built communications centre was completed in 2001.

MAF were one of the first technical providers to develop an HF radio email system for amateur-band radios. It became known as ‘Winlink Global Radio Email, used by NGOs and governments to transmit weather bulletins and emergency relief communications across remote locations.

MAF Radio Engineer, David Feka, repairing radios in Goroka

MAF expand their operations

MAF Technologies PNG extended their communications centre in 2009 and the ‘Learning Technologies Initiative’ was launched in 2010. This project provided Bible training and resources to remote communities through new technology including Wi-Fi, mobile phones and both audio and printed Bibles.

Their vision has always been to meet the communication and technical needs of the Church and PNG’s remotest communities, so that every tribe can hear about the Good News in a language that they understand.

In 2016, MAF's David Feka and Joey Redhead installed an HF radio at a primary school in Guasa Village, which is two day's walk from the nearest road.

Joey Redhead (C) & David Feka (R) install an antenna on the roof of a remote primary school in PNG

People like Pastor Jinga – based in the small village of Biaidi in Milne Bay Province – has infinitely benefited from radio technology. Following two years of severely limited communication with people outside of his community, his world changed in November 2019. When MAF installed an HF radio antenna, Pastor Jinga was finally able to communicate effectively with friends, family and colleagues further afield.

Today’s radio system at MAF Technologies PNG base in Goroka

Good communication saves lives

In addition to spreading the Gospel, MAF’s technology has proved critical in life-saving emergency situations. When MAF installed a high frequency radio and alarm system for ‘The Hands of Rescue Foundation’ last year, Dr Barry Kirby’s work was transformed enabling him and his team to drastically reduce maternal mortality across Milne Bay Province, which comprises of some 600 islands.

Dr James Gahare (L) from the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority conveying important Covid-19 info over the airways

During today’s pandemic, now more than ever, PNG’s cut off communities need access to trusted information from a reliable source to stay safe and protect their families from coronavirus. Using their HF radio network, MAF broadcasted a live Covid-19 Q&A with Dr James Gahare to some 80 radio stations reaching hundreds of people.

Long may MAF's work continue to reach and support Papua New Guinea’s remotest communities - saving lives, sharing the Gospel and connecting the isolated.