In November 2011 what had been a whisper became more and more intense. A Christian radio station. I had a picture of a break in an electrical circuit surrounding the Langeberg Christian fellowship and believed that God was telling me that a radio station would somehow bring multiple facets of the centre together.
I contacted our pastor, Phil Smythe, to ask him if he would be interested and agreeable to our placing a radio station on the premises. He was very supportive.
When I was newly born again, the Lord gave me a vision of a huge conference centre. It was multi faceted in that it not only hosted huge Christian events, but also was a training centre, recording studio, and…RADIO STATION! I have always been an impulsive person and when this vision came, I raced ahead of God and exhausted myself into the bargain! I began to wonder if the vision was just a good idea and not a God idea!
When I decided to go ahead this time, God made it very clear that I must think in terms of ‘baby steps’. Just do a few things a day and rest in Him at all times. Sometimes He would tell me to do nothing at all.
I set about finding out how to start a radio station. ICASA informed me that I could do nothing until I was allocated frequency co ordinates from them. So I began phoning the relevant department in order to apply. Every day I phoned! I phoned for hours waiting for replies and hitting full mailboxes. I would leave message after message and got nowhere! I was nearly ready to give up when Pastor Phil forwarded to me an email, which he had received. This is what it said:
“….last night on Daystar we were watching Sid Roth interviewing someone called Mark Virkler and this guy prayed for the viewers to have a release in the matter of hearing from the lord in dreams. Both of us can never remember our dreams or it’s just a jumble of meaningless images. Well last night I dreamed of Phil and Tanya, and it may be a message for you, so here goes. I was in your church although it did not look anything like the church in Heidelberg. I knew it was your church because the two of you were standing to one side… I didn’t have any conversation with you. What I did see clearly was a fence in the garden; a very neat fence made of thatched panels, but two of the fence posts were missing. I looked down at the empty holes and thought to myself ‘I must ask why these posts are missing?’. The grass around the fence was neat but winter brown. Then I went into the church and saw a radio mic attached to a box with a transmitter. It was NOT working and I saw that the reason it wasn’t working was because a large switch was OFF”
“Now Mark virkler explained that a dream that has no meaning for me might very well have a meaning for someone else. It just seemed funny that this should happen just after hearing the TV programme …….”
As soon as I read this, I KNEW this was indeed a God idea and this time I paced myself. I decided to phone SENTEC in George and received an extraordinary amount of help. At no cost, they supplied me with co ordinates, which I was able to submit to ICASA by the beginning of January 2012. The co ordinates were approved by ICASA in June. 7 months is apparently pretty miraculous for this process!!!!
The application process now began. Huge legislative processes are required and we now needed obtain support from the local community. After placing a couple of articles in local papers, support came in from most unexpected sources. Needless to say, not much from Heidelberg and plenty of scepticism. The Lord warned me not to publicise the station too much at this stage. Expectations would be raised and the process from here until our launch would take a long time.
With a dear friend, Jo Ann and her family who supported us almost fanatically, we went to spy out the land of radio stations! Chris and some friends from church had already done a fact-finding mission with Whalecoast radio in Hermanus. Jo Ann came with us a second time to spy out the more technical aspects. Chris also took a trip to Radio Tygerberg in Cape Town who is being extremely helpful and supportive to this day.
In September, following a mission to Hermanus, I happened to mention that the original name of ‘Radio Hessequa’ was not appropriate, as we would be serving the Swellendam municipality as well. We had also been advised that a more neutral name would be better. I asked people to pray for a name. Jo ann phoned me one evening and said that as she was working in the kitchen one day the name ‘GATEWAY’ came to her. I instantly knew that this was it – ‘Gateway radio’
Interestingly and not coincidentally, when I had first mentioned the project to Pastor Phil, I had told him of my picture of the circuit connection and how the dream described in the email had confirmed it to me. He was adamant that the open gateway in the dream was a confirmation of the fact that the Lord had told him not to install gates at the church. People must be free to come in and out whenever they wanted. Suddenly the name ‘Gateway radio’ confirmed that both of our visions added up to one thing John 10.9 John “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (NIV)
Just to further confirm that Gateway was our name an amazing thing happened. Whilst checking on the name for reservation whilst applying for our NPC, we found that there is one other radio station named Radio gateway. It is in a town in Essex UK called Basildon. This town was where my husband Chris, started his very first orchestra. The theatre at which they performed was called the ‘Town GATE’ theatre! The radio station didn’t exist then.
In November 2012 – exactly one year after all this began, I received an email from the Association for Christian Media asking if I would like to apply for their yearly seed fund tithe. The amount was R5,000. An amount, which we would need for our license application amongst other items. I explained that we were miles away from sending in our application and that God had told me not to seek donations until our license was secured. Nevertheless, they insisted and gave me a deadline of about 2 weeks to submit a ‘SMART’ application. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timous) I have no experience of this sort of thing but attempted it anyway. The most awkward one was ‘Timeous’ Our communications with SENTEC had informed us that most radio stations take between 8-10 years to launch! I asked one of our specialists in Swelledam to have a look at my application before the deadline for submission. Unfortunately, she was away at the time and only came back to me after the date that I had been forced to submit it. Her news was bleak! It was really not a good application and I was not surprised! Nevertheless, within a couple of days I was contacted by the ACM for the stations bank account details. I was informed that; ‘Out of all the entries we had, we thought that yours was by far the best.’ What a confirmation from God that we were on the right track!
For our license application, we had to find a technician who would be responsible for our studio equipment. Just before this was required a recent graduate from CAE contacted me in response to one of our newspaper articles. He came to the church and fixed our sound system free of charge and has been an invaluable as well as a lovely Christian. God sent him to us just in time! He is so excited to be our sound engineer.
…………And then came uncle Theo! A true gentleman and man of God. He took up tenancy in our little bed sit. Within days he became part of our family and we spent many hours together chatting about the radio station. He had been to the first ever meeting we had in our church hall and little did we know that he would turn out to be of invaluable assistance in the project.
At the end of January 2013, I had a call from the regional director of SENTEC. He wanted to bring 2 directors from Cape Town to see me. I asked him if this wasn’t a little premature. We wouldn’t be using their services for a long time. We hadn’t even submitted our application to ICASA yet! Then we could expect to wait a further 6-8 years! Nevertheless, he insisted. So it was that during this meeting, we were informed that government had drastically changed and improved its services to community radio. We could expect a 4-month wait for our spectrum allocation after the license is approved. This means that God has redeemed the time in a big way! Also, we can expect 100% government grant for our SENTEC fees and a 2.5 million rand state of the art studio with a pre recording studio from the MDDA. Theo joined us for that meeting and caught the vision.
We were unaware of the fact that Theo Swart had a degree in business management and was highly qualified for the position of general director for gateway radio. He accepted the position of Chairman of our board of directors and worked solidly for two months on our project. He designed our constitution and brought in other interested parties who were experienced in their fields, born-again Christians and excited about the station. In those 2 months we moved speedily towards our destination.
Theo had told us that he had been through some severe storms recently in his life and he had felt that the Lord had called him to Heidelberg. He also mentioned that he had been given 3 prophecies over the years all of which had said that in some way he would be responsible for the salvation of thousands of souls. He had no clue as to how this could happen.
On March 8th 2013 Theo died suddenly and painlessly of a heart attack. It was a major shock to us all, but at his memorial service one week later, the message shared (unbeknown to the speaker) was from John.10:9. This is the verse, which was our key scripture at the time.
There was a time after the visit from the SENTEC directors, when I was just so spaced out at all that had happened without much effort from myself. I just sat in wonder and said ‘Wow God! How?’ I heard the answer clearly “All I needed was a vessel” What an adventure and privilege it is to be in God’s plan! Theo was such a vessel and we are so grateful to God for sending him to us. There is no doubt that he fulfilled his calling by creating a water tight constitution which assured that the true gospel of justification by faith in the finished work of Jesus would never be compromised in our broadcasts.
This is where history begins. Little Heidelberg post office where our license application was dispatched on May 20th. The application, which consisted of over three reams of paperwork represents tens of thousands of souls!