Sunday, March 24, 2013


...Help to Transform a Nation

Lying in a hospital bed in 1988 blinded by torn retinas, missionary, Richard McDonald, began to envision radio as an instrument to reach tens of thousands in Bukavu, (Zaire) now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Little did Richard and Kathy know that thirteen years later in 2001 they would be reaching most of the D.R. Congo and beyond with the addition of shortwave and broadcast the results of the first free and democratic election in its long and embattled history.

Radio Kahuzi became the first FM partnership with HCJB Global in 1990 with a proposal typed on a borrowed typewriter in a motel room and faxed to their headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Richard's proposal was accepted and they soon found themselves training at HCJB Engineering Center in Elkhart, IN and heading back to Bukavu in November of 1991 with the Little FM Transmitter in a suitcase.

In April 1991 President Mobutu Sese Seko (now deceased) signed a Presidential Ordinance that opened the way for the signing of the very first private, non-governmental radio license July 4, 1991 giving The Little FM That Could permission to speak.

What can one little low-powered FM do with faithful staff and continued repairs and maintenance? Over the past 20 years, beginning Christmas Eve of 1992, The Little FM Transmitter in a suitcase COULD: 

...reach out with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
     who heals the broken hearted and sets the captives free!

But what terrible obstacles lay ahead... 

The Little FM dodged bullets and mortars in 1996 with the surprise attack coming across Lake Kivu from Rwanda. The McDonalds were pinned down for three days and nights while mortars rained down exploding a few meters away.

House in foreground with Rwanda across Lake Kivu

  Anti-aircraft slugs ricocheted above their heads and hit the station on all four sides. The Little FM held his breath, but was still standing tall as they made their escape past the military in the dead of night in a borrowed truck with no headlights. They arrived at a new home just down the road, but closer to the river in case his family needed to make a quick escape by swimming across the border. But no, they would not leave their Little FM for the enemy to use for evil purposes.

Thin and exhausted but still standing tall with The Little FM!


The Little FM waited patiently while the missionary hand-carried the antenna up another three-story tree. Tense moments followed as the missionary lost his footing and fell headlong down the tree while guns could be heard nearby. But God spared the missionary's life when his foot caught on a limb and he hung upside down thanking the Lord, who, alone, saves from certain death.

The Little FM held his breath and waited as the missionary tried again with success to mount the antenna to the tree and The Little FM's clear voice was heard in the land once again. He sang for joy, he encouraged the people not to give up, he was still here and God would help. As people ran from their homes and villages, they quickly gathered up precious possessions, one was their radio receiver.

Feza at controls - faithful 20 years
Soldiers from seven nations overran the country and fought back and forth for eight long years. But, The Little FM That Could, sang out His praises, and brought the Gospel to even those who had killed their neighbors across the border in Rwanda in 1994 during the Genocide. ("...for God is no respecter of persons.")

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans fled across the border to live in 30 refugee camps right under the signal of The Little FM for the next three years, as the World Food Program and the High Commission for Refugees asked The Little FM to be the unique radio to broadcast the daily lists of food rations and camp supplies being distributed to two million refugees in the thirty camps.

The Little FM fed them every day in French, Swahili, Kinyarwandan and English. He fed them with the sounds of the Gospel Story in their own "heart language." He encouraged the followers of Christ and pleaded with those who needed to trust Him and accept His offer to live with Him free from fear and hatred.

He also warned them to boil their water so that they would not get cholera. He told them where and when they could receive food to sustain their lives. The Little FM shared their personal stories in hopes that their children in other camps would hear and be reunited with mom and dad. The Little FM played their song requests and testimonies, too.

He told the two million refugees and ten million Congolese about immunization campaigns to protect them from polio and measles and how to try to protect themselves against malaria and Aids.

After the refugees began to go back to their homes in Rwanda, the fighting over territory, rich in gold, diamonds, and coltan for cell phones began in 1998. But, The Little FM would not give up.

In 1995 The Little FM That Could was invited to expand his voice by placing a FM 200 watt relay, high up on the mountain.

The King of the Bashi tribe heard The Little FM's voice and decided he wanted his tribe of two million to hear the "good moral teaching." So, he made a visit to see The Little FM for himself, and invited the missionary to bring his relay to his home and place the antenna on his roof. The Little FM could now reach down the other side of the king's mountain and bathe the valley with his clear, strong voice. 

In 1996 fighting erupted throughout the region as invading forces marched into town and The Little FM fell silent while his family, the McDonalds, went into hiding for over a week. Someone else was hiding too, the king of the Bashi tribe of two million people. Because of "the good moral teaching" he had heard on The Little FM, he decided he did not want his tribe to be involved in the fighting.


Happy to be alive!
While they were together hiding from the "foreign" soldiers, the McDonalds shared the Gospel with the king. Before they parted, the McDonalds gave the king a Swahili Bible to take with him. As he fled his beloved mountain home, he left the new FM relay unprotected and silent. His people on the mountain and down in the valley became very frightened. Some could no longer hear The Little FM so far away in Bukavu and fled into the jungle and mountains to wait out the war.

While the king was away the marauding soldiers plundered Walungu and made the king's home their command center. When they left the king's home they took down the relay and the antenna and took them away with them.

As they marched for many kilometers carrying all their guns, ammo and the precious radio equipment they walked into a village to rest. The soldier who carried the radio equipment grew tired of his load.

He saw a goat beside a hut and decided the goat was of more value. The goat was a prized possession of an older African man, but when the soldier declared he wanted to swap the box for his goat, the man did not refuse. The man feared that the equipment had been stolen from the (Mwami) king. Though he had no desire to have the equipment, he exchanged it for the goat, considering his goat an offering for his king.

Fearing the marauders would return later, the old man abandoned his home and village and fled taking the heavy box to a distant, isolated location to wait out the war. There he carefully buried the box in the ground beneath his hut.

Years passed by, and much transpired including the death of the old man's wife, but he remained faithful to his king carefully guarding the heavy box.

While the relay / translator lay silent in its hiding place for those ten years, many prayers went up to the Father's Throne for the FM Translator's protection and return.

(When Bukavu was invaded, most of the population fled to the mountains and jungle and four station staff members of one family had to flee from their home along with thousands of others. They walked for over a month through the jungle with little food or water to reach safety. Later, a Red Cross plane flew them back home and back to work at Radio Kahuzi.)

Two years later, in 1998 the War of Rebellion began. On the third day, Richard had walked a kilometer up the avenue to help a neighbor sew up the wounds of their doggie that had been abandoned when many people evacuated the city. Unknown to Richard, when he entered the house to help save the doggie, an elite troop of soldiers came across the street and marched down to Radio Kahuzi. They surrounded the house and studio with machine guns and grenade launchers. Kathy, and Jack, the staff announcer, and The Little FM were on the air for another day of broadcasting. 

Kathy heard Jack saying, "Madame, there are many military in the yard!" She quickly brought the three doggies into their pen for their own safety, and then she went out to greet the seventeen soldiers jumping off their truck with their automatic weapons in hand. They had set up mortars and surrounded and occupied the station where The Little FM was sounding out its "good moral message." The Commander demanded Jack to silence The Little FM. Another shouted demands and threats at Kathy and told her she could no longer broadcast. They were going to take control.

Kathy quickly retrieved a "Broadcasting Permit" from the house. Richard had it signed the day before by the Number One Commander.

Still, another soldier came closer and grinned at Kathy, saying, "Aren't you afraid to die?" threatening her with rape and death. Even though Kathy's heart was pounding because they had just pillaged the city for two days and hurt the women, she knew she must not show fear. She looked him in the eyes and said with confidence, "Oh, no, God watches over me. God protects me. If I live, I live with Jesus, and if I die, I die with Jesus."

Shortly, the Commander gave a hand signal and, in an instant, the soldiers and their guns were gone. When Kathy looked again, she was amazed--there was only the gate standing open!


In 2000, the feared Mai-Mai commandos and 900 troops began pillaging the suburbs and the hills surrounding the city of Bukavu. While resting on Christmas Day and planning their attack on the city , the commander turned on his little radio and picked up the voice of The Little FM. He and his men had stolen the little radios from the villagers. They now controlled a third of the city of Bukavu.

 He and several of his men listened to something they had never heard before in their own "heart language." They were so moved by the Spirit of God and the voice of The Little FM that they decided not to attack, but turned back, and the city and The Little FM were spared once again. 
Pastor Gregoire on left, Commander holding notebooks
Later, Gregoire, our journalist, met this Commander, now a new believer in Christ who also founded a new church, which is still functioning today! What an amazing story!

In 2004 the battle came into the center of Bukavu again, and The Little FM was silent for many days while the missionary and his wife were pinned down to the floor. Once again, they refused to flee the violence but stayed to protect The Little FM. They lay on the floor eating Spam out of cans, shuddering at the sound of large cannons and mortars flying over the station for ten long days and nights. They prayed for God's protection over their radio staff, their families, friends, church family and, of course, The Little FM and their new 1,000 watt Shortwave installed in February 2001 by HCJB Global.

Mike Axman from HCJB Global made 
the long journey to Bukavu in 2001
And what about the silent FM 200 relay / translator buried for ten years? Now 80 years old, the protector of the buried box, contacted his (Mwami) king. He was waiting for his king to return to his home at Walungu (on the mountain) to present it to him. But the king had not returned to his mountain home. He had fled long ago, fearing for his life. After years of hiding, he traveled to the capital city of Kinshasa to serve in the new government as a Senator. (He completed his work in preparation for the elections held July 28 - 31, 2006. The king became an automatic Member of Parliament.)

Believing that the "heavy machine" was the long lost relay equipment belonging to Radio Kahuzi in Bukavu, the (Mwami) king asked Radio Kahuzi staff to go and retrieve it. One of Radio Kahuzi's journalists made the journey to find the old man and to bring back the precious box of equipment.

God heard and answered those prayers of faith. What a birthday present! On July 4, 2006 Radio Kahuzi celebrated its' 15th birthday (of receiving the broadcast license) and they received the FM relay / translator as a gift from God!

The years ruined the carton, but with some external cleaning, the FM 200 relay / translator was soon back on the air at 102.1 MHz, along with The Little FM That Could at 91.1 MHz.

On July 31, 2006 the very first "FM transmitter in a suitcase" along with his big brother, a 1,000 watt shortwave, transmitted the voices of democracy in the very first free and democratic election in the history of the Congo! 

Together, once again, The Little FM, The FM 200 and the mighty voice of Big Brother Shortwave their voices sang out the praises of our Heavenly Father. They rejoiced as they remembered all the years God has used them as an instrument of His LOVE and PEACE sharing the Gospel with the struggling people of the Democratic Republic of Congo!

Polling and monitoring first election


In February 2012 the High Commission for Refugees asked The Little FM and shortwave to broadcast a message of Peace to the 20,000 or more Rwandans remaining after the Genocide in 1994 causing trouble and heartache for the local villages. They are living in the jungles and mountains of Congo in remote areas not accessible to reach by others. The Little FM sent messages encouraging them to come out of the jungle and return to their homeland of Rwanda. In only twenty-four days of broadcasts in French and Kinyarwandan the numbers of Hutu refugees and FDLR militants returning to Rwanda have doubled.

Since 1994 partners like GALCOM International continue to help The Little FM and big brother Shortwave by donating 17,500 FM and Shortwave solar-powered, pre-tuned radios to be placed in the hands of thousands of new listeners all over Central Africa and the D.R. Congo.

MegaVoice has also partnered with The Little FM to provide Ambassador FM radios with memory players sounding out the Bible verse by verse and the Story of Jesus Christ as Savior in their own "heart language."

Today, in 2013, we are working to place six relay FM Translators on sites near belligerent warriors to sound out the message of Reconciliation with the Lord of the Universe. "Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

Can a low-powered FM help change the world? Yes, with God's help and one Little FM at a time!

Twenty years later The Little FM Transmitter in a Suitcase is still... 
...reaching out with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
who heals the broken hearted and sets the captives free! 

Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come...
But Grace will lead us Home!

Prayerfully consider supporting Rich and Kathy McDonald and The Little FM that Could through your prayers, and financial support. Or, perhaps the Lord is directing you to serve along side the McDonalds to reach the next generation of Congolese for our Lord Jesus Christ through Radio Kahuzi.

Contact us on our website at and share with us all that the Lord is laying on your heart. Step out by faith and see what the Lord can do. It might not be easy but, "In His presence is fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore."