WHAT: Providing practical help through acts of kindness in areas of need. It might mean filling gaps – identifying areas of need then seeing how we through media can help address that need. It might be educational needs. It might be a need for providing a voice for the voiceless. It might mean developing a new role for media that has never been done before.
WHY: Serving is at the heart of being a follower of Jesus. It was his self-declared role, and the example that he set for those who follow him. The application of serving to media may not be easy to find but once we get into that mindset it becomes easier to see how and why we should come alongside at their point of need.
HOW: The attitude of the servant is to come under or alongside those he/she serves. But not over. True followers of Jesus do not operate from positions of power, or by claiming the higher ground. Practically it means that we engage with the community. Radio people will get out into the streets and into the marketplaces. New media folk will engage in conversations that others are engaged in – and learn to speak their language! They will listen – and ask questions? They will take time to come alongside others. They will bring quiet understanding and support to those who are hurting. They will avoid bringing quick-fix answers
BIBLICAL BASIS: The New Testament of the Bible is full of references to servanthood. Jesus is described as The Suffering Servant. Such servanthood is driven by love for others and we love because he first loved us.
EXAMPLES: How do we bring this model into the contemporary world and especially media? Here are a few examples:
- A classic example of this was when there was an acute shortage of Bibles for the growing church in China. Shortwave broadcaster FEBC stepped in to provide a daily 15-minute Bible dictation program. Listeners thus compiled their own Bibles via the airwaves. At one time there were more hand-written Bibles than printed ones in China. This proved to be a great service to the growing Church.
- In another country that came under totalitarian rule women were denied the right to an education. Another broadcaster took the opportunity to design radio programs that would provide basic education specifically for women.
- Today numerous materials are made available for download via the internet in response to specific needs of various kinds.
- At the community level people with low education in the villages are given opportunity to make their own radio programs for their local radio station. This empowers them to become engaged in the practical needs of the community. Many of these are related to health issues, safe water and agriculture. Because they are actively engaged they also engage their families and neighbours as they work to a common goal of raising the standard-of-living within their community. By taking such a serving role the local station can channel much practical help to the community as well as radio skills to many of its members.