AWR Announces Changes in Asia/Pacific Region
By Shelley Nolan Freesland, AWR communication director
A number of changes are taking place in Adventist World Radio’s Asia/Pacific region this spring, involving both personnel and office moves.
After five years on Batam Island, Indonesia, AWR’s region office has been relocated to Bangkok, Thailand, and has settled into space next to the Thailand Adventist Mission compound and Ekamai International School. The primary reason for the move was to access better high-speed Internet service, which is needed for the large volume of program files that are processed each day. Asia/Pacific is AWR’s most active region: audio files in more than 30 languages are processed daily and forwarded for airing on AWR’s shortwave station on Guam and other commercial shortwave stations in Asia. AWR’s media asset management system also picks up the programs and makes them available as podcasts.
“Of all the major hubs in the region that we were considering, Bangkok is the most central and offers some of the best connectivity in terms of travel and Internet service,” says AWR president Dowell Chow. “In spite of the current turmoil in the country, we were fortunate to get all of the arrangements completed, and the office is now up and running.”
AWR’s Asia/Pacific region director, Jonathan Wagiran, has transferred to a new position within Indonesia, accepting the role of editor at the Indonesia Publishing House in Bandung. During his seven years as AWR’s region director, Wagiran oversaw the launch of production in numerous new languages for shortwave broadcast: Javanese, Sundanese, and Batak in Indonesia; Min Nam in Hong Kong; Tibetan in Nepal; Gujarati , Oriya, Meitei, and Kok Borok in India; Po Karen, Kachin, Mon, and Shan in Myanmar; and Hmong and Lao in Thailand. As well, a new shortwave production studio was established in Vietnam during his tenure.
FM activity also increased in the region: AWR programs are now heard on 26 commercial FM stations in Nepal; an Adventist FM station has been started in Manado, Indonesia; and a major initiative to broadcast the first Adventist programs on FM stations in the large cities of India is firmly established.
Prior to joining the region office, Wagiran served AWR as a program producer in the West Indonesia Union Mission for approximately 12 years. “Jonathan has been a very dedicated worker and is well liked in the region,” Chow says. “I have good memories of working closely with him. He will do extremely well in his new position, and I think the
leaders there made a good choice. At AWR, we have a lot of appreciation for both Jonathan and his wife, Anneke, who worked alongside him and was part of the team; we wish them God’s constant leading.”
A new region director has been called to fill Wagiran’s place at AWR. Surachet Insom had already been working with AWR as a trainer for the Asia/Pacific region and coordinator of radio work in Thailand. He has broad experience in church work through roles in education, communication, health ministries, publishing, chaplaincy, and more. His expertise in sharing Christianity with Buddhists will be particularly valuable in his work with AWR. At the new AWR office in Bangkok, Insom is joined by Anniston Matthews, program coordinator for the region.
The final change is taking place in Guam, where Victor Shepherd has accepted a call to be treasurer of the Guam-Micronesia Mission, after serving as site manager of AWR’s shortwave station there since 2005. Shepherd’s service with AWR goes even further back, as he managed AWR’s operations in the Americas region for 12 years prior to his move to Guam.
During Shepherd’s tenure on Guam, the station underwent a major upgrade, and is well positioned to continue reaching shortwave listeners in more than three dozen languages across Asia and the Pacific for years to come. In addition, Shepherd has handled the accounting function for the region and has been closely involved with local church entities, serving on the boards of the Mission and the Guam Seventh-day Adventist Clinic.
“Victor has been a valued member of our team for a long time, and we greatly appreciate his many years of service to AWR – in both Guam and the Americas,” Chow says. “On Guam, he has managed the KSDA shortwave station very well and brought good stability to the operation. We wish him all the best in his new position, and hope to continue having a great relationship with both him and his wife, Joaquina, as well as with the mission, who are our neighbors on the island.”