Darris McNeely talks with Filius Jere from Zambia about editing the Beyond Today program to better communicate to a Zambian audience.
[Darris McNeely] This is Darris McNeely with the United Church of God. I’m in Malawi at this time, conducting some leadership training with the ministry and other members from Zimbabwe, from Zambia, and here in Malawi at this time. And I have with me Mr. Filius Jere, who’s one of our members from the Chipata, Zambia congregation. And Mr. Jere has been doing some very interesting things with the Beyond Today transcripts off of our television program and using them in some very interesting ways in Zambia to help promote the gospel, the message of Beyond Today, and the gospel teaching of the church. Mr. Jere, I’m glad you’re with us today. If you could explain to the audience what you’re doing, I think it’ll be very interesting and they would find it very fascinating.
[Filius Jere] What I do in Zambia is that I find Beyond Today TV very, very interesting. The messages are very strong. And I felt it remiss that the people should not have those messages. But what you must know, pastor, is that those messages sometimes have got a focus on the American audience. So what I do, basically, most commonly, is I download from YouTube because we’ve got challenges on the Internet, but YouTube is simpler. And that gives me another challenge. Sometimes I cannot access the transcripts. But what I do is, I download, say, a program on baptism, the whole program. And then I listen to the program, maybe several times, listen and listen and try to transcribe. And then when I do that I have sort of a rough script, which now I look at and analyze. From there, I pick the items that I think are very suitable for the Zambian audience.
[Darris] What might some of those items be, for instance? What topics would that be?
[Filius] For instance, if we pick the program on Easter, you’d find that I’d pick out the Easter eggs, the rabbit and all that because those would not be understood by the Zambian audience. I’ll have to cut them out. Then, you’ll find that most of Beyond Today is 28 minutes. I cut out all that, I come down to roughly 22 minutes and I’ve got eight minutes to play around. And then, I use that eight minutes to introduce the program in the Zambian language, Zambian English because there’s a difference in the way they understand English. So I do that in order to attract attention to the subject matter.
For instance, baptism is done in several ways and I might have to point out a few issues about baptism, which will attract people to listen now, for instance, to Darris McNeely on the subject. In other words, before Darris McNeely comes on the scene. After that, I use a small bridge, a local bridge, not an American bridge. Sometimes I use the bridge from Beyond Today, which introduces the producer, Darris McNeely, Steve Myers, and company. And then, we go into the topic.
I do not tamper with the initial body of the sermon, if I may so say that, until the end. But then, I also cut out references to American situations likes the address, the connections and all that. And then, I cut out also the reference to television because this production, unfortunately, in Zambia, access to TV is not available very much. And also, you’ll find that most of the audience in the Chipata area, I’m not targeting this message for the Chipata congregation only, which is very small, around 20, but I want this message to go out into a good [inaudible 00:04:13]. So, I use a radio station, which reaches 800,000 houses in the eastern province of Zambia.
So once I finish with the downloaded sermon, say by Darris McNeely, at the end, because I’ve got eight minutes, I might have four minutes used for the intro, and then I’ve got four minutes at the intro and then I’ve got another four minutes at the end to summarize so that I bring out or highlight the points that have been inside the sermon.
And that way, I know that people are listening. Why I know is that even before the program starts, we’re using a local radio station, which is highly listened to, and if the program misses or delays by a few minutes, people start ringing me in the radio station. And during the program, they seem to be taking notes because, at the end of the program, a lot of phone calls come.
[Darris] So there’s almost an immediate response?
[Filius] There is immediate response.
[Darris] Wonderful. How many different programs have you done for this format on Zambian radio?
[Filius] When I started with the late pastor Wilson Nkhoma, that was in 2013. I started with another radio station way out in [inaudible 00:05:36], that’s around 200 kilometers from Chipata. Because, at that time, I started using my own resources. I was not even baptized. But I may produce and I looked at the value of Beyond Today and it was a big miss out for me when I looked at people not getting the message. So, I started doing my own [inaudible 00:05:56] with a small radio station, with almost a similar reach out, about 600,000 people. And after that, my late pastor Wilson Nkhoma, and the present Major Talama, they advised that we move this program to a central radio station. And this is what I’ve been doing now from 2014, 2015, to date.
[Darris] Well, we certainly appreciate the initiative you’ve taken to do this. And the support that you’ve had from your congregations and your ministry there in Zambia. I think it sounds like an example of you and others taking the initiative to do something with the resources of Beyond Today that are available via the web and adapting them for the format and the culture situation you have there in Zambia. I think what you’ve done, and are doing, is to be commended and sets a wonderful example there.
[Filius] I would also like to commend the United Church of God for coming in because radio, paying from your own pocket is expensive. And when Pastor [Plengo] and Pastor Major Talama came to set up the church, they came in voluntarily and said, “We are going to support you,” because, at a certain time, I could not continue in two languages, the English and the local language version. And I was putting out one component. They said, “No, don’t do it.” So now, from last year November to date, the change also has an input, where they supporting one track in English of Beyond Today.
[Darris] That’s wonderful. Well, listen, we appreciate very much what you’re doing and the conference that we’re conducting here in Malawi has started quite well. We will conclude tomorrow. But I’m glad that we took the time, and you with me here, to explain what you’ve been doing. And we certainly look forward to hearing more results from the efforts that you’re making there in Zambia to help promote the work of the church. So thank you.
[Filius] Thank you so much.
[Darris] That’s Inside United podcast at this time. Join us next time. Be sure to come back for more later.