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Navajos Take to the Airwaves

Adventists share God’s last-day message in the Navajo territory that straddles three U.S. states.

Najavo story

Sam Hubbard of Holbrook Indian School records radio speaker Bud Joe Haycock at the workshop. Photo supplied by the Pacific Union Recorder

Kyle Boyd senses that God has given him a special opportunity to reach out to his fellow Navajo tribal members, whose territory straddles three states: Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. “Our people are desperately searching for hope,” he said. Recently Boyd was able to realize his dream of sharing God’s message in a very special way.

About a year ago, Boyd heard from members at his home church that there was an idea to establish a radio station to reach the Navajo Nation with God’s last-day message. He immediately volunteered.

He discovered that many years ago the Voice of Prophecy had produced some programs in Navajo; updated scripts from that source of long ago form the basis of his ministry. On August 2, Boyd’s voice was heard for the first time around the huge reservation — the largest in North America — and the ministry was launched.

The original dream of Navajo church members was, and still is, to acquire their own radio station. Unfortunately, a plan to participate in a radio license auction scheduled for earlier this year was foiled when the COVID-19 epidemic hit America — the Federal Communication Commission postponed the auction indefinitely.

However, the church members saw the postponement as merely a temporary delay, and their strategy pivoted to the concept of a trial run on KTNN, the most powerful station on the reservation. Thanks to numerous private donations and a sizable contribution to the project from Adventist World Radio (AWR), the group had enough funds to buy airtime on “The Voice of the Navajo Nation.”

navajo church

A new radio production room was recently installed in this modular building that also serves as the Window Rock church in Arizona. Photo supplied by the Pacific Union Recorder

They had no expectations of receiving any feedback from listeners about their first half hour on the air, but within three weeks, eight listeners had called in to sign up for the study course that was offered!

The surprise early response has energized the program producers in their new work of preparing radio programs and the follow-up that the requests have generated. The three church conferences that have territory in the Navajo Nation agreed to help make the preparation of programs possible by installing small production studios where tribal members can conveniently record their radio messages.

The Rocky Mountain Conference helped fund a studio at La Vida Mission in San Juan County, New Mexico. The Arizona Conference installed a studio at the church in Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation government. The Texico Conference installed a studio at its Gallup church in the western part of New Mexico. Holbrook Indian School in eastern Arizona also has a studio and plans to involve students in the programs. Thanks to a weekend of training by former AWR vice president Allen Steele, a dozen volunteer program producers were ready to go into action.

Until the next opportunity arrives to acquire their own station, the trial run has convinced our church members that a radio ministry is the best way to reach out to the quarter-million Native Americans occupying the huge desert expanse of their territory.

— Phil Draper is communication director for the Arizona Conference; this article originally appeared in the October 2020 Pacific Union Recorder, and is also available online here.