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James and Lyn Burnett Celebrate 40 Years of Learning

By Zeke Hanson
15 July 2022

The number 40 in the Bible is often representative of a period of trial or testing. Jesus was tempted by Satan during the 40 days and 40 nights he fasted before he began his ministry. The Israelites were forced to roam in the wilderness for 40 years before they were allowed to reach the Promised Land. God flooded the Earth by having it rain for 40 days and 40 nights.

With James and Lyn Burnett, the number 40 is representative of the many different challenging times they have had in the 40 years spent serving with Trans World Radio (TWR). For James, who has served as an engineer and technical director, his challenges were often technological.

“There’s been changes, you know,” James said, “when we’ve had to change from the old transmitters to the new ones, get all that work done. It’s been a real technical challenge to get all the work done and get all the new technologies. You never stop learning.”

James Burnett’s first interaction with TWR came while he was working for FEBA Radio in Seychelles. He met some members of TWR who were staying in his parents' home at the time, and they invited him to go to Swaziland, so he used one of his holidays to volunteer at the site.

“They asked me to consider joining, and I prayed about it, prayed about it, and the Lord would begin to convict me to give up my nice job that I had.”

For Lyn, who operated as an announcer for 25 years before transitioning into work with TWR Women of Hope, one of the biggest challenges was in being open to try new things as a part of the ministry.

“One lesson I learned is that you have to be available to be used by the Lord and to try new things, different things,” Lyn said. “[In Swaziland], somebody asked me if I wouldn’t try doing announcing for our English broadcast, and so that was totally, totally new to me. If I had to listen to my recordings way back then, I think I would see that I came a long way, but that was the start of doing 25 years of announcing.”

Lyn studied as a nurse prior to joining TWR and had just finished a year of service with Hospital Christian Fellowship (now known as HealthCare Christian Fellowship) when she was searching for an opportunity to fulfill her calling to serve the Lord full-time in missions. That was in January of 1982, which happened to be around the same time James had volunteered in Swaziland. It also happened to be the month the two became engaged. They were married that May and started working for TWR in June.

The challenges James and Lyn have encountered have not only been within their work but have also extended to their personal life. In 2005, when TWR was searching for a place to put its first transmitter in West Africa, James and Lyn’s youngest son, Andrew, passed away after being hit by an oncoming taxi.

“Looking back now, it was at the time when in-roads were made to expanding the ministry [in West Africa]. And of course, with that, Satan is not very happy, so we felt at the time that this was an attack on us,” Lyn said. “James was on the front line actually going to see the land, negotiate, and work things out, and then that happened.”

The obstacles placed between James and getting a station operating in West Africa did not stop there.

“Shortly after that, [James] was due to go out, and we discovered that he had high blood pressure, which he had never had before, and has had ever since, so that was also one of the things that happened at that time, and he couldn’t go on that trip,” Lyn said.

But for all of the difficulties and trying times James and Lyn have gone through in their 40 years of service, to know that they are where God wants them to be has provided comfort and support.

“I think, through the years, that God wanted us to be with TWR,” Lyn said. “He called us into that. He called us then to move. He called us then to move again down here [Port Elizabeth], and I can hold onto that, because that is something I feel strongly in my heart, that this is something God wants me to do, so when the going gets tough it helps pull you through that period, because you know that ‘I am where God wants me to be, so He will be with me, even if things aren’t easy and smooth.’”

TWR was granted a medium wave (AM) license to broadcast from West Africa on July 4, 2006.

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