by Mark Goodman
Most missionaries are aware of the increasing array of communications media equipment available. They are in the business of communicating the gospel by any and all means available.
Most missionaries are aware of the increasing array of communications media equipment available. They are in the business of communicating the gospel by any and all means available. The Apostle Paul used the term "persuasion" in relation to communicating the gospel, which implies using the most effective means to bring about changes in thinking, being, or acting concerning one’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that the advances in the field of communications media technology have been given by God for missionaries to use in these last days to preach the gospel to every nation and tribe. Without such modern technology, humanly speaking, there seemed little likelihood that this goal could ever be reached. It is exciting to realize that technology now exists for gospel broadcasting via communications satellites, both by television and radio, with multiple language channels to every nation on earth.
At a lower level of the media technology spectrum, battery- operated and spring-drive cassette players, battery- operated radios, filmstrip projectors, and slide projectors are now being used effectively in evangelism, follow-up ministries, leadership training and church planting.
The multiplicity of media and methods tends to overwhelm the average missionary. He is asking, "Where do I start? What equipment is basic? How do I develop a planned and integrated progression of media equipment for my media bag?"
Obviously, the beginning missionary, or even the experienced missionary who is just becoming aware of the media communications potential, must start at a level commensurate with the needs on the field and the funds available. As time and funds permit, and as experience instructs, this basic equipment will need to be supplemented and, in some cases, replaced. However, the Lord’s money must be invested and used prudently.
Following is a basic plan for acquiring media equipment. It includes equipment for the missionary’s use on the field as well as at home. Communication is vital in both areas of the ministry.
Field: 35mm camera, Short-wave radio, Cassette recorder
Home: Screen, Slide projector
Field: Auxiliary camera lenses; Strobe light; amplifier; Cassette players; Master cassette recorder; Filmstrip, slide, overhead projectors; Transparency maker
Home: Two more slide projectors PA, Programmer control, Second dissolve unit
Field: Mobile AV unit; Generator; 16mm projector; Cassette duplicator; Cassette tapes, batteries, players
Home: Cassette/slide synchronizer; Second slide projector and screen; Dissolve unit
At the base level, the missionary should acquire a good 35mm camera.1 The latest EE (electronic exposure) cameras automatically set the correct exposure. They are well worth the extra money.
Avoid using "instamatics" and cheap pocket cameras.
The new missionary should learn how to use his camera at home before going to the field. He should experiment with several rolls of film.
Film is relatively cheap.2 Take pictures (preferably slides) at a ratio of at least three for every one you will keep. You will then have plenty to choose from. Plan your furlough presentation with some sort of script while on the field, using close-ups of people and other variety angle shots to avoid monotony. Remember, good visuals should communicate.
A portable cassette recorder with built-in condenser microphone and an external microphone is relatively inexpensive.3 Avoid buying unknown brands or "drug store" specials. Warranties are useless on the field. Cassette tape recorders can be used to prepare simple tape programs in the languages of the people. They are also very helpful in language study. Take a supply of batteries to the field. Experiment with cassette tape instructional materials and be prepared to expand programs as needs arise and funds become available.
A short-wave radio is useful for maintaining some "home" contacts, thus helping to alleviate some problems of loneliness and culture shock. In many cases, gospel programs can be received for spiritual food, and in some cases, programming may be available in the language of the people.
When furlough time arrives, secure a good slide projector, preferably an Eastman Kodak Ektagraphic with a remote forward, reverse, and focus control.4 This is the standard unit in education and industry, as opposed to consumer lines that are not compatible with automatic control devices, or are not as durable. Gravity feed slide projectors are faster and more trouble free. A good, fast-moving, 15-minute slide program is often more effective than a rambling one-hour program.
By the time of his second term, as donors have responded to his effective use of media to communicate the gospel, the missionary is ready to expand his media bag. He may want a second camera, or auxiliary lenses for his present camera, such as a 28mm wide-angle, a 135mm telephoto, or an 80mm to 200mm zoom lens for versatility. Filters to compensate for late afternoon light, haze conditions, and objectionable highlights (polarizing filters) are also good investments.
He may also need a strobe attachment for indoor photography. The automatic exposure control unit with replaceable alkaline batteries is a good beginning unit. Don’t "overshoot," however. Twelve to fifteen feet is about the limit reach of this kind of strobe light.
A battery-operated public address system amplifier for large meetings or for market place evangelism is very useful.5 The size of the audience determines the wattage needed. A good general purpose starter unit is the Bethany Broadcaster.
It has been said that the cassette tape system of communication is now the best medium for evangelism. Certainly it has great potential. Cassette tape players are either battery or spring-wound powered, inexpensive and easy to operate.6
Illiterate people can be reached by cassette tapes. "Strange",concepts of grace, of God’s love and mercy, of eternal life, and the very "foolishness" of preaching need much repetition if they are to be understood. The cassette tape player meets this need.
Many organizations supply players at minimal cost, or without cost. As players become available, batteries often prove to be an expensive problem. It is helpful to know that, while most players take "C" cells, they will also operate on "D" cells (wired externally or with alligator clips), with twice the life for a few pennies more.
Preparing programs for cassette players is the next problem. It is essential that some sort of accoustically treated studio be devised. Surplus styrofoam packing material can be used to line existing structures. All master materials should be recorded first on good quality reel-to-reel recorders for ease of editing and quality control.
However, if professional tape production equipment is too expensive, a good quality master cassette recorder can be obtained for slightly over $100. Up to ten cheaper recorders could then be "patched in" through a junction box attached to the auxiliary inputs to duplicate ten tapes at a time from the master copy.
Battery- operated filmstrip projectors, slide projectors, and overhead projectors are now available.7 There are excellent filmstrips, many with cassette narration, on the market. These are useful for day schools, Bible schools, TEE courses, and for follow-up and lay instruction classes. Photographic or handmade slides can also be effectively used in battery-operated slide projectors.
A most effective instructional media device is the overhead projector. Bible Visuals makes well-designed overhead transparency sets on a variety of Bible stories and Bible teaching themes at minimal cost.8 Hand-made visuals are the least expensive, and can be made for immediate needs with simple drawings, using grease pencils or color ink pens (limited life).
Some advantages of the overhead projection system are: no room darkening necessary; attention control through the lighted image on-off switch; easily prepared visuals; and eye contact at all times with the viewers. If AC current is available, a good, heavy duty transparency maker is a good investment.9 Some companies may have good reconditioned ones available.
Missionaries can use effective communications media techniques for reporting to those at home. To do this, they need to organize a script and title their slide presentation. Next, record a pleasing narration, mixing music (preferably national) and recordings of actual evangelistic meetings, Bible classes, personal testimonies, etc. After the master tape has been completed, use a cassette tape slide synchronizer which adds a 1000 hz, pulse on the tape, automatically activating the slide changer.10
Purchase a second Ektagraphic projector and a dissolve unit, if funds are available. However, a single projector with the tape synchronizer is an improvement over the ad lib narration of a slide program. The Ektagraphic AF-2 projector with a 4-inch to 6-inch zoom lens and dependable automatic focus would be a good second or replacement projector. This model also has an automatic timer for use with missionary display slide programs.
A third level of media utilization is one designed for evangelistic outreach and church planting. Many mission programs use one or more audio-visual truck units that include a three-to-five kw generator, diesel or gasoline pow red, or a simple generator designed to operate from a slowly idling truck motor. The generator will power a 16mm motion picture projector, PA system, filmstrip projector, and tape recorder. Space should also be available for literature supplies.
An evangelistic team with audio-visual equipment can very quickly make an assessment of people’s receptivity to the gospel. When a willingness to respond to the gospel is evident, church planting and follow-up teams can use instructional media equipment described above under intermediate level.
As response to the gospel increases, and as more churches are planted, more follow-up and instructional materials must be produced. Again, the most effective media seems to be the cassette tape. At this point, good production facilities are imperative: one or more recording studios; a high quality open reel master tape recorder for radio broadcast programs as well as cassette tape masters; a high quality cassette tape duplicator; an adequate supply of blank tapes, batteries, and players.
The Telex line of production and duplicating equipment has a good proven record for durability and quality, with a good cost-service ratio.11 Very favorable prices can be quoted on request. Blank cassette tapes need not be expensive. Good quality, screw-mounted cassettes (repairable, if necessary) can be purchased for about sixty cents (C-60 length) in lots of 100 or more.12 Printed or blank tape labels are available.
For home presentations, try to obtain two Ektagraphic slide projectors with zoom lenses, a tape synchronizer, and a two-stage dissolve unit, if these were not obtained at the intermediate level of media equipment. If possible, add two more projectors, a programmer control, and an additional dissolve unit.
Stereo sound equipment also makes a more professional audio presentation. This equipment enables the missionary to take a two-screen, four-projector dissolve image program with the capability of an uninterrupted program of 300 or more slides in thirty minutes or less. The programmed unit can then be duplicated and distributed as opportunities arise.
Editor’s Note: Products and services mentioned by the author are not endorsed by the publishers of Evangelical Missions Quarterly. Missionaries are advised to make careful inquiries with other suppliers as well, including, for example, Missionary Services, Inc., Box 853, Wheaton, Ill. 60187, and the Evangelical Purchasing Service, Box 28, Wheaton, Ill. 60187.
1. Miranda EE, $225 – $250. Prices are at their lowest on most cameras at this writing.
2. For best results, use Kodak films. A versatile, low-priced film for quantity production is Kodak 5247, a tungsten negative film suitable for good color density slides and either black and white or color prints. Available from Central Processing Company, P. 0. Box 668, Richardson, Texas 75080. A 36-exposure roll is less than $2.00.
3. Sankyo ST 200. Approximately $35. Available from Bethany Corp., Electronic Division, 2232 W. 94th St., Minneapolis, Minn. 55431.
4. Kodak Ektagraphic Model AF-2. Approximately $200.
5. Bethany Broadcaster. Approximately $125. Available from Bethany Corp.
6. Contact Portable Recording Ministries, Inc., 681 Windcrest Dr., Holland, Mich. for equipment and technical services available at low cost.
7. Mitchell Art Productions, 4435 58th Place, Los Angeles, Calif. 90043.
8. Bible Visuals, 12401 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, Minn.
9. 3M Secretary Model 45. $450.
10. Telex Model 990. Available from Bethany Corp. $290. 3M Wollensak Model 2551.$300.
11. Telex Copier 1. Available from Bethany Corp. $850.
12. Available from Bethany Corp.
Copyright © 1977 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.