Dr. Ray Allen (right) general vice president of Adventist World Radio, and Eduardo Canales (left) director of AWR for North America, Inter-America, and South America, look on during the tour of the new office of Radio Lira, in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Mar. 14, 2023. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD].

March 20, 2023 | Alajuela, Costa Rica | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Seventh-day Adventist leaders in the South Central American Union, inaugurated the new studios and offices of Radio Lira, a radio station operated by the church, during a special ceremony in Alajuela, Costa Rica, on Mar. 13, 2023.  Adventist World Radio (AWR) officials and regional administrators from the local fields and the Central American Adventist University in Costa Rica, reminisced on how God had led them to the 9.8-acre property overlooking the city of Alajuela.

“This is a miracle from God,” said Pastor Ricardo Marin, president of the South Central American Union which oversees the church’s work in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  Marin thanked Adventist World Radio for signing over the property, which they had owned since the 1990s.

Main building of the Radio Lira studio offices overseeing the city of Alajuela, Costa Rica. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“We praise God for His goodness, and vow to continue spreading the gospel of salvation,” said Marin. The property will not only house Radio Lira, but will also serve to organize and strengthen the church’s communication system in the union, among other ministries.

Large property overlooking the city

The main building has five offices, five studios, one meeting room, a reception area, a kitchen, four restrooms and a chimney. In addition, there is a warehouse, a small home where the grounds keeper lives, an apartment with a two-garage space, and a house that will serve as a health life center.

Pastor Ricardo Marin, president of the South Central American Union, speaks to church leaders and guests during the inauguration ceremony of Radio Lira, Mar. 14, 2023. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“I am challenged to ensure that our radio station grows and advances even further,” added Marin. “We cannot continue doing the same thing, we have to grow and upgrade to better equipment that will help us carry out the mission God has given us.”

Radio Lira was established in 1983 as a shortwave radio station on the campus of Central American Adventist University, in Alajuela. It initially broadcast 12 hours a day. In 1990 it was upgraded to an FM station broadcasting to 94 percent of the country with 24-hours programming. The station remained on the university campus until 1993 when it moved to the AWR property until 1998, then returned to the campus and remained there until last month, church leaders explained.

Dr. Ray Allen, general vice president of AWR and Pastor Ricardo Marin, president of the South Central American Union, get ready to cut the ribbon to the main entrance of the studio offices of Radio Lira. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

A particular history with AWR

The Adventist radio station has a particular history with Adventist World Radio, said Dr. Ray Allen, general vice president of AWR.

“This used to be the center of AWR for this region,” said Allen. “I remember programs produced here would be sent to an extinct volcano because this volcano had the height we needed. A microwave signal was sent from here to the top of Irazu Volcano and that signal would be sent to another tower in Cahuita [in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica] near the border with Nicaragua and that would broadcast shortwave to all Spanish-speaking countries.”

Photo of AWR property operating from 1994-2004. [File Photo: Courtesy of Miguel Lara]

The church purchased Radio Lira on the condition that it kept “Lira” in the name, which in English is “lyre”, a stringed instrument.

“The radio station needs to continue playing the music of God,” said Allen. The building was the AWR headquarters of the America’s, explained Allen, serving the Inter-American and South American Divisions.

Because several AWR offices had to close in the region in 2004, the property had to be sold, added Allen. “Anyone who came to look at it would say ‘no that’s not for me’ and we wondered how come? Look how beautiful, how can you resist a land like this? But God kept this land as if saying this site needs to be retained so we can continue to proclaim the gospel.”

The original sign still stands near the entrance of the property gifted by AWR to the church in the South Central American Union headquartered in Alajuela, Costa Rica. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

A re-inauguration of the property

In a sense, said Allen, “This is a re-inauguration, we have been here before with God and today once again with God. May God continue to bless this property so the love embodied in the Three Angels Messages can reach many more souls to the honor of God,” Allen said.

AWR purchased the property from an American-run orphanage, but because of strict government policies it had to be shut down. It was an opportunity for AWR to have more space for its operations since it was outgrowing its space on the campus of the university. After AWR left in 2004, the property remained unoccupied for nearly 20 years.

Pastor Milton Castillo, retired and former conference president and Radio Lira manager, shares the early beginnings of the purchase and antennas of the station in the 1980s. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

“It’s like we got an old castle, but this is a valuable property, and we are excited to have invested thousands of dollars to clear out the outgrown wooded areas, refurbish the inside of the main building, acquire modern lightning rods, re-wire the electrical system and clean up a few of the original elements left by AWR,” said Marin.

The signing of the property took place in 2022 at AWR headquarters in the General Conference, in Maryland, United States. Marin publicly thanked Dr. Duane McKey, president of AWR, and Israel Leito, former IAD president, who were instrumental in the process of gifting the property to the church.

Church leaders and members tour part of the facilities on Mar. 14, 2023. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Continuing spreading the gospel

The church in the South Central American Union is very clear that God preserved the property and its purpose to continue in mission. “Everything we do should be about preaching this beautiful message of salvation and we vow as a church to continue advancing and growing,” Marin said.

For Royner Ramirez, communication director for South Central American Union, overseeing the refurbishing of the floors, knocking down walls, rewiring and setting up Radio Lira studios and offices has been an arduous task but one that has sparked opportunities that will see the message reaching out not only to radio listeners but viewers as well. Many of the original things were kept like the wooden paneled ceilings, the doors, much of the wooden furniture in the studios and offices, and studio carpeting and flooring, explained Ramirez.

Leaders look on during the touring of the main production studio at the new Radio Lira offices. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Ramirez, who oversees production, a production director, a program director, a marketing director and an assistant production director, who together keep the station running 24/7.

“We want to set up a proper Hope media center right here on this property to target viewers who need to know about Jesus and His love,” said Ramirez. A small television studio has been setup but the plans are for a complete media center.

Pastor Royner Ramirez, communication director of the South Central American Union stands in one of several radio studios on the property. The wooden desk and framing of the window are part of the original furnishing used by AWR in the 1990s when it housed operations for the Americas.  [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Ramirez said the staff is happy to have moved in a few weeks ago.  The inherited building is a reminder for them each day that the world church cares about spreading the gospel through AWR, and a reminder that they are blessed beyond measure to work at a property with such a rich Adventist mission heritage.

“God’s boomerang effect”

Miguel Lara, who has been employed in Radio Lira for nearly two decades, said it is surreal to be back on the property doing what he has loved to do for so many years. He began working as a student when he was 19 years old. “I came here to work with Radio Lira and AWR, left a few years in between, and consider it a privilege to be part of a place where so much has been produced to spread the message of hope,” said Lara. Lara said he’s encouraged that work from the refurbished offices will reach more people exponentially.

Miguel Lara, program director of Radio Lira, has seen the Adventist station move from the university to the AWR offices and back during the past 20 years and is delighted to still be part of spreading the gospel from the new location. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

In a sense, Radio Lira is following in the footsteps of AWR, taking steps where AWR left off, said Dr. Allen. “I call it God’s boomerang effect, where it all circles back.”

The inauguration ceremony also saw former Radio Lira leaders tell of the logistics of obtaining the station and its growing transmission. AWR leaders talked about evangelism activities and initiatives around the world today.

View overlooking the city of Alajuela from the studio offices of Radio Lira. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

To learn more about Radio Lira and its beginnings, Click HERE

To view a photo gallery of the inauguration on Mar. 14, 2023, click HERE

 

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