Today in Church History

Islamic Gunmen Hit Christian Radio Station

Islamic Gunmen Hit Christian Radio Station

When the phone rang at radio station DXAS, a worker answered it. “Stop broadcasting your message in the Tausug language,” ordered an unidentified voice.

For the workers of the Far East Broadcasting Company, the threat was real. DXAS, located in Zamboanga, Philippines, was reaching out to Muslims.

Similar calls had come before. Muslim extremists did not want the message of Christ aired to their people. The Tausug themselves were not complaining about the broadcasts; in fact they were enthusiastic listeners. One of the broadcasters, Gregorio Hapalla, was himself a Tausug.

On this day, September 21, 1992, the opposition moved beyond threats. Two men armed with handguns entered the Christian radio studios and opened fire.

After the shooting stopped, three people lay dead. Two were martyrs for Christ. Christian pastor-broadcaster Greg Happala was one. The fifty-year-old worker left behind a grieving widow. Thirty-one year old radio technician Greg Bacabis, a control operator, was also dead.

The third victim had no connection with the Christian broadcasts. This was Ambri Asari, a local fisherman who had stopped by to deliver a public service announcement.

Eventually, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which is connected with Al Quaeda, the group involved in destroying New York’s World Trade Center in 2001, claimed responsibility for the killings.

The Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) was founded by John Broger and Bob Bowman right after World War II. Even before the war, they saw the need of a Christian radio station to bring the gospel to millions in Asia, especially China.

Their first FEBC broadcast was made from Shanghai in 1947, but because of the Communists, China was fast closing its doors to Christian work. And so they made the fateful decision to relocate to the Philippines. Their first broadcast from their new facility was out of Manilla on June 4, 1948. The FEBC has worked out of the Philippines ever since and maintains several stations there.