About Square One World Media
Based in Winnipeg, Canada, Square One World Media has been producing Christ-centred programming since 1947. Beginning with a single English-language radio program, its work has expanded over the years to include print, television, and online media in a variety of languages. The Low German ministry began in 1959 and has been a pivotal part of Square One's output ever since.
A history of Low German media at Square One
The Early Years
The first High German program, Licht des Evangeliums, was produced by Henry Regehr in 1955. When radio station CFAM was founded in Altona, Manitoba in 1957, it was very open to airing God’s Word. Square One (then known as Gospel Light Hour) quickly created additional programs, including Morgen Andacht, a daily High German devotional with Dr. Abraham Unruh as the first speaker.
Many of the early workers and supporters of the Gospel Light ministry were from the Mennonite Brethren community in Canada. Because Mennonites have a shared history and language with many of the world’s Low German speakers, there was strong interest in developing a Low German ministry.
John J. Neufeld (J.J.) was the Low German speaker when Licht vom Evangelium first aired in Manitoba on September 19, 1959. Through almost 30 years of producing the program, he taught a book-by-book study of the New Testament. There was no Low German version of the Bible so, along with producing the radio program, J.J. began a systematic and painstaking translation of his own. J.J retired in 1987, and Daut Niehe Tastament en Psalme was published by Kindred Press in 1987.
Gerhard Friesen was the Low German program producer from 1987 to 1994. Because he himself was from Paraguay, he was well accepted and trusted among Central and South American listeners. This allowed him to develop a highly effective travelling ministry in Latin America, and it also made it possible for him to address difficult topics like depression, abuse, and alcoholism.
Gerhard Friesen and J.J. Neufeld, c.1990.
Jacob Funk became the director of the Low German radio ministry in 1995. He soon began contributing to an organization that was working to translate the full Bible into Low German. De Plautdietsche Bibel was published in 2003.
Jacob's wife, Helen Funk, began creating radio programs for women and children in 2004. Jacob and Helen produced a wide variety of recorded and print materials. With sound technician Dan Klaue, they recorded the Low German New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs onto portable, solar-powered Gospel Players. Their produced material opened doors for them to preach and teach in every region of the Americas, as well as in Germany and Siberia.
The Funks officially retired in 2013, but Jacob continued directing the Low German ministry and speaking on his weekly radio program, Licht vom Evangelium until the end of 2019.
Helen and Jacob Funk in the recording studio in 2006.
In 2013, Irene Marsch started working with Square One (then known as Family Life Network) to produce De Schwesta Stund met Irene, a radio program that combined medical advice with Scriptural teaching. A retired nurse from Canada who grew up in Paraguay, she became aware of a great need for Low German-speaking women to have access to medical knowledge in their own language after volunteering at the “Women of Hope” counselling office in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 2012. Because of the acceptance of her radio program, Irene has become a speaker and teacher in Low German communities in Canada, Mexico, Bolivia and Paraguay.
Irene is also a writer and illustrator, and has published Low German books on topics of health, wellness, and self-worth.
David and Sieglinde Toews were working in youth and family ministry in Bolivia when they first partnered with Square One to produce Low German media programs. David, a music producer, developed the Ekj Ran radio program in 2014 after his song, Ekj Ran un Jäw Nich Opp, went viral among Low German-speaking youth. In 2014, Sieglinde began producing Waut’s Dit?, a science-based family radio program.
When David and Sieglinde left Bolivia in 2015, Eduard and Heidi Giesbrecht took over as producers of Ekj Ran. Originally from Paraguay (Eduard) and Brazil (Heidi), the couple were working in church ministry in Bolivia. When they joined the Ekj Ran project, it was a simple operation in a shared space, but the impact was real.
Claude Pratte, Square One's Executive Director in 2016 (back, right), with some of our Low German partners. Also shown, back, from left: David and Sieglinde Toews. Front, from left: Irene Marsch, Heidi and Eduard Giesbrecht.
In 2019, David once again began partnering with Square One to produce a weekly music video, Leet von de Wäakj, in his Exalta Jesús recording studio in Paraguay. Leet von de Wäakj uses traditional and contemporary Low German worship music and is popular with all ages. In 2020, Sieglinde and David began producing a video program for youth, Wajch Wiesa.
Een scheenet Läwen with host Gladys Rempel was launched in the summer of 2021. Using Scripture, biblical teaching, interviews and personal stories, Gladys presents the hope of the Gospel to Low German-speaking women.
Gladys Rempel in the film studio in 2021.