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How Our Ministry Began

It all started with a radio that wouldn’t work. The year was 1937. A young boy in the small town of Orland, California, had just finished assembling his first homemade radio. Now came the test. Tom Turner turned the “on” switch. Nothing. He tinkered with the wires. Still nothing. Poor Tom was crushed. But a friend suggested that he see Willard Vanderford who knew a lot about radio. Young Tom followed the advice and the radio was fixed.

Mr. Vanderford just “happened” to be the teacher of a boy’s class in the local Christian Church. He invited Tom to Church. Tom attended for awhile but eventually lost interest. However, Tom’s younger brother, Lee, who had also been invited, began to attend. Within a year’s time 11-year-old Lee Turner stood before the congregation to make “the good confession” of his simple faith in Jesus Christ.

Denied baptism by his father that same Sunday afternoon, Lee wept in a remote corner of an apricot orchard. Several weeks passed. Finally, Lee could stand it no longer. He requested Willard Vanderford to privately baptize him in nearby Stony Creek.

A few years later, Lee felt God’s call to become an evangelist. To prepare himself for ministry he enrolled in San Jose Bible College (now Jessup University). While taking a course in Church History he was impressed by the need for someone to go and witness to Muslims.

After graduation Lee and his wife Gerry moved to Vancouver, Washington to work in a new church plant. Four of their five children were born in Vancouver. While there Lee read an an article in the Reader's Digest, by James Michener, “Pakistan: Divided it Stands” which renewed his interest in evangelism among Muslims.

Undaunted by the incredulity and indifference of his friends, Lee moved his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to study the culture and language of India and Pakistan. In 1959 he completed a master’s degree in South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. 

In 1960 the Turners moved to Lahore, Pakistan. Over the next 15 years they worked to teach people about Christ and establish new congregations. The fears and faith, hardships and blessings, sorrows and joys, losses and victories were numerous. During those years Lee began a cassette tape ministry for illiterate people. Tape enabled scores of people to hear the message of Christ they could not read for themselves.

On the basis of his recording work for the tape ministry, Lee was invited to prepare radio programs for the Far East Broadcasting Association (FEBA). In 1970 Lee, and his son Jonathan, built a recording studio for this purpose.

In 1971 the first gospel radio programs produced in Pakistan in the Urdu language were broadcast. Hundreds of letters began to pour in asking for copies of the Scriptures and information about Jesus Christ. 

The Turners relocated to the United States in 1976. Lee founded Key Communications to continue the work he began in Pakistan. On October 6, 2003 Key Communications became an "integrated auxiliary" of The Church of Christ in Coos Bay, located in the state of Oregon. It is one of the mission outreaches of the church.

And so, the story has come full-circle. A radio helped introduce Lee to Christ. Radio is still an important means by which Lee tells others about Him.

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