The Israeli branch of the missionary Trinity Broadcasting Network has begun broadcasting Christian programming in Russian, with the hope of reaching a million Russian Israelis.
The broadcasts, which appear as Channel 177 on the Yes cable network, began four months ago, but will make their official debut this coming week. Pastor Igor Nikitin, head of TBN’s Russian operations, said that the opening of the station in Israel “is a true miracle for us and for the entire Russian-speaking public in Israel. A family channel on such a scale, built on spiritual and ethical values, which are a must in today’s Israel, is the fulfillment of our hopes linked to our dream to strengthen the Holy Land.”
A message on the TBN website reads as follows (capitalization in the original): "TWENTY-SEVEN great satellites now blanket the WORLD with YOUR TBN! People are finding Jesus in some of the most remote places on earth. Become a MISSIONARY to the WORLD—PLEDGE for SATELLITE!"
3,000 Pilgrims Celebrating TBN in Jerusalem
The official kick-off event of the new station is scheduled to take place next week in Jerusalem, at the Davidson Center near the Western Wall. It will take place in the course of a special tour to Israel of 3,000 Russian Christian pilgrims, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the founding of TBN. Among the participants will be Russian politicians, top Evangelical leaders, musicians, and members of Israel's Russian-immigrant "Israel Our Home" party headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, including Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.
“A year ago,” Nikitin said, “we prayed for the Russian party Israel Our Home [Yisrael Beiteinu]. We couldn’t imagine that its leaders would end up in such important positions in the government of the State of Israel.”
Yad l'Achim opposition
The Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization, which is attempting to drum up popular opposition to the new station, says that the TBN elements in Israel "worked very smartly in concealing their true intentions." This enabled them to book a major event at Binyanei HaUmah (Israel Convention Center) in Jerusalem, as well as receive governmental approval for their missionary channel.
The anti-missionary site Jewish Israel quotes Nikitin as having written, “The time has come… for Jews and gentiles alike, to grow together into one creation through [Jesus],” and that it is “pleasing to consider the fact that the Israelis are waiting for us impatiently.”
The channel is named Radnoy, which implies a nostalgic longing for one's homeland. It is billed as seeking to attract "those who freely left for places far from their birthplace. It will bring our friends in Israel feelings and warm memories of their childhood places, their relatives, their culture, and their language."
Radnoy is to broadcast daily, featuring shows for children and youth, music programming, and more. One of its first show hosts will be MK Anastasia Michaeli (Kadima), a former newscaster on Israel Broadcasting Authority's Russian-language channel.
MK Sofa Landver of the Israel Our Home party, Minister of Immigration and Absorption, welcomed and blessed the new station. "I wish Radnoy all the best, and I believe it will help in the integration of the Russian immigrants."