Kingdom Eswatini: fire, electricity and radio!
"Your neighbor's property is on fire. The flames are very close to your house!" When Tobias Pfeiffer receives this message on his mobile phone, we are at the Trans World Radio (TWR) transmitting station in Swaziland. We pack up quickly. The five houses where Pfeiffers and four other families live are 40 minutes away. Fortunately there’s little traffic on Friday evening, so Tobias can step on the gas. As we turn into the dirt road that leads to their house, flames fly all around. I send a prayer to heaven: "Help, Lord!“
Tobias' colleagues are standing outside with hoses to protect the houses. I run into the house with Britta and the children. Everywhere it smells of smoke. After an hour Tobias comes in. The danger is averted, the flames are diminishing. "It’s normal for Africans to burn their fields at this time of year," Britta explains to me later. The bush fires that had been blazing in the area all day had got out of control due to strong winds.
"God is watching over us!"
It's my first day in Swaziland - or Eswatini, as the small kingdom with a million inhabitants in southeast Africa has recently been renamed. I am visiting Tobias and Britta Pfeiffer with their three children David (8), Lucas (6) and Samuel (3). Only a few weeks ago there had been a fire at their radio station. "Thank God we discovered that fire early enough and were able to put it out," a relieved Tobias reports. The flames spread so fast here because of the drought, I imagine.
When we take a walk across the fields the next day, we see what the flames have eaten bare. Only the grounds of TWR have been spared. A miracle! Soothingly Britta speaks with her children: "You see, God has saved us. He takes care of us." David, Lucas and Samuel were surprisingly calm about the situation. Although they, wide-eyed like us adults, sent prayers to heaven, nobody panicked. A good portion of trust in God is certainly advisable if you live in a country where not everything is secure and dangers lurk everywhere. It could happen that the children encounter a poisonous snake while playing in the garden. "So far everything has gone well," Britta smiles.
Sending a message of hope
Apart from the black burned fields, which only turn green again in the rainy season, it is an idyllic spot where the Pfeiffer family have their home. In 2009 Tobias and Britta were sent to Swaziland by the DMG as a young missionary couple. For ten years, the now family of five has been living in the hills of Manzini. In recent months they have added a rooster, two hens and a chick to their household.
Tobias is a technical missionary. He works as an engineer at the transmitting station of Trans World Radio, an international partner of DMG. From here, Christian radio programs are broadcast to large parts of Africa. He and his colleagues maintain the antennas and the technology behind them. Thanks to their service in the background, broadcasts reach listeners, people find faith and Christians are encouraged.
Welcome to Africa!
"We have no electricity at the moment", my host family laughs happily as I enter their large kitchen in the morning. Fortunately, Pfeiffers are prepared for such incidents. There is a gas cooker and therefore hot water for coffee and tea. So the day is saved. Even today, a permanent power supply and stable Internet connection are not a matter of course for the 1.3 billion people in Africa - and if available often only affordable by the rich. A listener to the programs broadcast on Tobias' equipment wrote from Zimbabwe: "We have five hours of electricity a day. Since I discovered your frequency on medium wave, I listen to your programs whenever possible. Corruption and greed for power have destroyed our country. Thank you for your work, your broadcasts fill our long dark nights with light."
This is where Tobias' essential role comes into play. As one of four engineers and technicians, he makes sure that the Swaziland transmitter works perfectly and that Christian radio programs are broadcast daily throughout the continent via the strong short and medium wave frequencies. The sophisticated broadcasting technology requires regular maintenance and updates. "In the event of a breakdown, all colleagues work together at full speed to get the system up and running again as quickly as possible," is how Tobias describes his everyday life.
Playing with Lunga and Xlemusa
While Tobias works at the transmitter on weekdays, Britta takes care of the household and the children. Pfeiffers' neighbors, friends and guests are always welcome. This is part of the life of missionaries. They open their homes and hearts so that people can see and experience their faith.
Lunga and Xelemusa, two boys from the neighbourhood, visit two afternoons a week. "So their mother can go to work," says Britta. David and Lucas are excited. As soon as their homework is done, they can play outside with their friends. Britta only has time to catch her breath and clean and tidy up in the morning when the children are in kindergarten and school.
It’s very lively at the Pfeiffers; at Tobias' work at the station and at home with Britta. She confirms this with a satisfied laugh: "We love life in Swaziland and are grateful that we can invite Christians in Africa to come to Jesus, over the radio and here at home.
Written by Claudia Schmidt
The author, born in 1968, is responsible for the global work of ERF Medien in Wetzlar, Germany. She is a friend of the Pfeiffer family and visited them in Africa.
Please support this precious work of our missionaries Tobias and Britta Pfeiffer. Their service with our partner mission Trans World Radio is very important so that people in Africa can listen to the Gospel via radio.