By Jordan Grantham,
Jessy Harfouch and Fr Maroun Moussa of Voice of Charity – Australia. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta
After two months off air for extensive renovations, Voice of Charity – Australia, the only Arabic language Christian radio station in Australia, went back on the air on 3 April 2018.
Fr Maroun Moussa, of Lebanese Maronite Missionaries, founded Voice of Charity Radio in 1997. He grew up during the Lebanese Civil War, receiving much hope from listening to the Catholic radio there.
“During the war radio was essential for news. It belonged to the political parties and each side listened to their side of the story. This was the only way of communication during war. No internet, no televisions, no nothing,” Fr Maroun said.
“During that period in 1984, the Voice of Charity started in Lebanon, to be the Voice of Charity and the voice of hope while people were distressed with what was happening there.”
Voice of Charity in Lebanon was the only Arabic Christian radio station in the Middle East.
“Many people were attached to Voice of Charity there because even though you need to know what’s happening on the ground, all the politics, the people need to know the truth – to follow God.
“You follow people, you follow leaders, but deep down you know no one’s perfect and people have their own interests.
“I would tune into the Voice of Charity, this was not political, you could pray, receive support, people pray for you and you learn about your faith.”
Voice of Charity – Australia reaches over 20,000 listeners annually through its 1701AM radio frequency in Sydney, VHF receivers across Australia and its website and mobile phone application.
Programs with high profile guests have been especially popular, including the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Melkite Bishop Robert Rabbat, Archbishop Julian Porteous, Jason Evert and Christina King.
Christian ecumenism is an important part of Voice of Charity’s mission. Voice of Charity invites guests from the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity each January.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church also provides a program.
The majority of programs relate to important events and topics in the life of the Church, such as the major feasts and celebrations, traditions and spirituality.
There are Maronite Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent, Syriac language hymns, such as Wa’habbibi “Oh my Son”, and Byzantine melodies.
Charbel Raish of Parousia Media provides most of the English programming, in a partnership that started six years ago.
Voice of Charity’s mission of faith is very personal for Fr Maroun and Jessy Harfouch, the English Program Director, who has worked there for over seven years.
“The Voice of Charity brought me back to the Faith,” Jessy said.
“I’ve learnt so much here and there’s much more to learn, never going to stop learning. I can say that I have grown so much over the past seven years here,” she said.
“When you have a big joy you cannot keep it to yourself, you have to share it with others,” Fr Maroun said.
“It’s been very satisfying to hear how much Voice of Charity means to its listeners.
“People say it’s like oxygen. People are really attached and can’t live without it.
“There are some stories about husbands with wives, because sometimes there is a radio in each room of the house and people can’t sleep!” Fr Maroun said with a smile.
Fr Maroun especially enjoys co-hosting weekday spiritual reflection My Gospel is my prayer, with Fr Mansour.
“I learn from it and I challenge the Holy Spirit to do his work. I come with no preparation.”
One of Jessy’s favourites is the quiz show Who Wants to Win the Kingdom? in the style of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Throughout the day, callers make prayer requests in ‘Light a Candle’, which asks listeners to pray for a special intention.
Fr Maroun and Jessy are very grateful to the generous people who make Voice of Charity possible through the fundraising sources of advertisements, donations, Voice of Charity pilgrimages, luncheons and notices.
Voice of Charity – Australia