Hello, world, here's hope ... from TBC
Missionaries around the world — and amateur radio enthusiasts in the Piedmont and beyond in North Carolina — soon will get some radio encouragement from Triad Baptist.
The Triad Baptist Amateur Radio Club, one of 11 official outreach ministries of Triad Baptist Church, is expected to start operations in early 2017.
Among the important to-dos before the club starts operations: installing antennas on the roof of the church, plus radios and other equipment in its Control Room, and running cables to connect all the gear. Eventually, the club hopes to set up a repeater station in Fancy Gap. These shift the radio frequencies and boost signal strength to reach more ham radio operators in their cars and other vehicles.
The club already held its first meeting to elect officers in August and received official approval in September from the Federal Communications Commission which licenses and regulates amateur radio operators.
“Our club really has the same goal as any other ministry of the church — to spread the gospel and encourage believers,” says Don Culbertson, the club’s chaplain and president (Jim Dumont is vice president, J.D. Ziegelhofer is secretary, and Jesse Dyson is technical director). “Our hope is that we’ll be able to plant the seed of the gospel as we represent and participate as a club at events and as we talk to people on the radio.
“One of our goals will be to find men and women interested in and involved with this hobby to make connections with them in the name of Jesus Christ,” he says. “We want to encourage them to walk closer to the Lord, and to be likewise encouraged ourselves.”
Drive inspires ministry
A night drive from Ohio to North Carolina in 2012 gave Scott Swaim, trustee and organizer for the Triad Baptist Amateur Radio Club, the idea to launch the new ministry.
Returning from a training event for work in Toledo, Ohio, the evening wore on so Swaim flipped on his ham radio and turned up the volume to stave off sleepiness.
As he traveled through rural Kentucky, it wasn’t long before he ran across a network, or “net” of ham radio operators checking in one by one with the “net control” operator regulating the proceedings.
Curious about the net, Swaim noted its conversations centered on spiritual things. He checked in and identified himself and soon realized the network was comprised of ham operators who were born-again believers.
Once those on the network learned about Scott and his drive back to North Carolina, Swaim says they asked him, “Would you like us to pray for your travelling safety?” Surprised but delighted, Swaim answered, “Yes!”
“One by one, they prayed for my safety and alertness,” Swaim recalls. “Back home, I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t we get something like that started at Triad that God could use to further His kingdom and that we could use as a ministry of the church as a witness for Him and to encourage others and as an outreach of the church?’ It took awhile but everything eventually fell in place and the result is our new club!”
A popular hobby
According to Swaim’s dad, Don, the club’s public information officer and the man who first exposed Scott to amateur radio 41 years ago, there are 141 FCC-licensed amateur radio operators in the 27284 zip code. About 12 are members of Triad Baptist.
Don adds that, of the 593 repeaters in North Carolina, two are in Forsyth County, seven in Guilford County, nine in Davidson County, and one in Stokes County.
The club hopes to have the ability to transmit in three radio bands: high frequency (HF), ultra high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF).
Call sign and opportunities
Swaim says the FCC initially gave the club the KM4YAD call sign but it asked for and received its top choice of two ‘vanity’ call signs — K4TBC.
“We really wanted to include TBC somehow and K4TBC was our first choice,” Swaim says. “We’re so pleased that this is the call sign we’ll be using and become known by.”
With the club’s efforts picking up steam after the approvals by the church’s Executive Leadership Team and FCC, Swaim says members are excited to get to work.
In addition to the club’s transmissions to ham operators, Triad Baptist events and other information Swaim envisions a future that could include: presentations to Triad Baptist Christian Academy students; severe weather reporting through the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN program; HF transmissions to missionaries Triad supports around the world; and hosting licensing classes and exams.
Four years ago, club members Gary Keith, Ziegelhofer and Brandon Warren got their licenses through such a course at Triad.
“We have a good set of leaders in place, and with the church behind us as well as many in the ham radio community, the future really looks bright for our club and this ministry,” Swaim says.