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God has called and I’m ready to talk

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Spreading the word: Gina Spence, centre, with co-host Donna Williams, right, and journalist, researcher and producer Carolina Duarte

When God calls, you have to answer. Gina Spence learnt this earlier this year when she felt a nudge to return to radio with a new faith-based programme, Strength For The Journey.

The show, which airs on Sundays from 6pm until 7pm on Hott 107.5FM, will discuss a range of topics usually taboo in the church setting — from drug and sex addiction, to divorce.

“I hadn’t been on the radio for four or five years and I really didn’t have a desire to return to the air,” Ms Spence said.

“In my mind, I had a good innings and a successful show with Community Voices, but in my prayer time with God, He said He needed a voice in the community to speak to a lot of the social ills we are facing today.

“He needed a faith-based voice and a person who wasn’t afraid to speak about the issues and highlight the truth of God’s word, in a way that provided solutions to a lot of what we are dealing with now.

“He needed someone who could articulate what the Bible says to a generation, which might not ever pick up a Bible and may not be keen to know about the things of God.”

She spent weeks reflecting and praying about whether returning to radio was the best move for her. During her quiet time with God, He gave her the name for the radio programme, Strength For The Journey, and a host of provocative issues He wanted her to address.

“God wanted me to speak to pre-believers, those who didn’t know God yet, and I have this hope that people will meet Him, have a relationship and get to know this great God I know through this programme,” Ms Spence said.

“I didn’t want it to be churchy or religious. I wanted it to have a nice sway about it because I was looking to reach out to that 25 to 45 demographic and even those in the 65 age bracket.”

Ms Spence spoke with the owner of Inter-Island Communications, Glenn Blakeney, who was open to the idea of her hosting a faith-based show.

“Mr Blakeney said at that time the only spot he had available was on Sunday evening between 6pm and 7pm, which was ironic because with my schedule as busy as it is that was the only time I could commit to,” she said.

“After that I prayed about it some more, and the more I prayed, the more I heard from God that this was exactly what I needed to do. His instructions were very specific. He even started giving me provocative titles of segments. At that point I said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t know if I want to do this’.

“The first title He gave me was ‘The Death of a Marriage’, which tackled divorce. I knew it could be a painful subject for some as divorce has such a profound impact on children, friends, family and even the community. However, I also knew there weren’t many resources in and out of the church for people to access when going through those experiences.”

Strength For The Journey premiered last week with a series entitled Help Me I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up — Addicted, which addressed the subject of drug abuse. The series will continue over the next few weeks looking at topics like phone and social-media addiction, as well as sex addiction.

The intent is to share hard-hitting testimonies from people who have overcome addictions and point anyone struggling with these problems to resources, help and support that is available.

“My team does a lot of research and have gone to the Department of Statistics in order to bring real, solid data to the table,” Ms Spence explained. “We want to have some substantial information so we aren’t just speaking from the top of our heads.

“Sometimes in Bermuda it’s hard to gather information, but the statistics we were able to find have been quite telling.

“For the next few weeks, the show will focus on a different topic of addiction and we have psychology experts and people who have come through those addictions also speaking.

“They will take us into the deep, dark life of being addicted and how they were able to break the curse and cycle. Some have struggled through years of addiction to some of the hardest drugs in the world — but there is hope in their stories. They prove if they can overcome these battles so can you.”

Ms Spence, a long-time Christian herself, said that often when people share their struggles the response in the church is ‘OK, I will pray for you’.

But people also need tangible help and guidance as well, she said.

“We have created a hotline and also have an e-mail address so that people can contact us immediately during or after the show,” she said.

“We wanted them to be able to talk and meet with someone right there and then, rather than waiting until the following Monday to get to them because when people cry out you need to answer quickly and with a heart of compassion to say, ‘I‘m here to listen if you are ready to talk’. You need to be able to direct them to the right resources if they are ready to take that next step.

“That’s the mandate I feel I have been given — not just to talk, but to provide real solutions and support.”

Each show will also have a segment entitled What Does The Bible Say, where Ms Spence will share passages from God’s word, followed by a thought-provoking song. Her team will also provide an opportunity for the listener to reconcile with God and ask for forgiveness.

“It’s not an altar call, but we call it a reflection moment,” she said.

Ms Spence said she makes no apology for being a Christian and expressing a godly point of view. However, she was very purposeful in the way the show was put together.

“We have designed it so that any person — young, old, black, white, local and foreign — can walk away with information, support, resources and a platform to talk and to listen,” she said.

“Every topic we will discuss will start with time to reflect and ask for forgiveness and to forgive others. We give the listener a chance to think about the questions that have been asked and it has been quite empowering to be given the opportunity outside of the traditional church setting to talk about God.

“I do believe the churches have a huge role to play and have found support from many pastors on the island. However, some people aren’t ready or interested in stepping foot inside a church and this is our way of reaching them.”

Co-hosted by Donna Williams, the content of the show is researched and produced by Carolina Duarte.

For the latest updates and schedule for the programme, visit Twitter or Facebook: Strength For The Journey Radio

Gina Spence, right, with co-host Donna Williams (Photograph supplied)