Feba's co-founder - John Wheatley - died on 19th September 2020. We have collected a number of personal tributes giving thanks for John's remarkable ministry and legacy, including the messages that were shared at his funeral.

John whilst based in the Seychelles - as Feba's first Station Director - taken in 1969

If you would like to donate to a special fund that has been established in John's memory, please visit our online giving page and select the relevant reason for giving from the dropdown list: 'I'm giving in memory of John Wheatley (Feba's co-founder)'. Thank you.

Tributes by John's children - Diane, Jean and Richard

John's three children each shared personal tributes at their father's funeral, following the reading of 2 Corinthians 4 vv. 5-18.

A Tribute in song by John's granddaughter Bethan

John's granddaughter Bethan sang a song that she had composed specially for the occasion: 'He's Coming Home'.

Copyright © Beth Keeping 2020

A Tribute by Joanna Malton

Joanna Malton, a current trustee of Feba UK and the daughter of Douglas Malton - Feba's co-founder, shares her memories of John.

A Tribute by Dan Cura

Dan Cura, President of FEBC Philippines, pays tribute to John.

A Tribute by Ed Cannon

Ed Cannon, President of FEBC USA and Chair of FEBC International, pays tribute to John.

A Tribute by Bob Chambers

It is a tremendous honour to be have been asked to pay tribute to John Wheatley at this service of thanksgiving.

But the truth is that when I was asked, I was worried that I might feel a bit of a fraud. Standing here, I’m very aware that you have already heard from three people – each of whom knew John far, far better than I did. The simple fact is that I did not get to spend much time at all with John: I never worked with him, I certainly cannot claim to have been his ‘friend’, indeed, I believe we only met a handful of times. However much that might be something I regret, I cannot change it.

But the fact that our direct contact was so limited certainly does not negate my appreciation of John’s legacy. I think it would be impossible to fulfil my role without having sufficient knowledge of Feba’s roots and early growth to instil in me a very deep sense of gratitude for the immense contribution that John made – along with Douglas Malton, and others – to establishing the life-changing ministry that endures to this day.

There are so many facets to John’s character that I have heard mentioned over the years – and especially in recent days, as people have recalled so fondly their memories of him. It strikes me that John demonstrated that special balance between grit and grace; between hard work and humility: he was a man of great stamina, creativity and focus, and yet his singular focus and his underlying motivation were very clearly on following and serving Christ, and seeking to make Him known. The glory was never meant to go to John, but to God alone. From what I understand of him, that is what John would have wanted today, too.

I am reminded of some of the great heroes of our faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11. Throughout history, God has called men and women of faith to do extraordinary things for Him, in His name, for His glory. That is undoubtedly what John did: his many years of faithful, obedient service have produced abundant fruit – and the harvest continues!

We know only too well, however, don’t we, that there is a real danger associated with idolising great pioneers, founders, leaders – even (and perhaps ‘especially so’) in Christian circles. Perched atop a pedestal is a perilous place to be! Very respectfully, I say let’s not fall into that trap today. I know full-well that I am broken and my failings are real, yet I am so very thankful that I can still offer myself – warts and all – to God, to be used in His service. I suspect John was similarly aware of his own predicament.

The centrality of the gospel message – the uniqueness of Christ and His offer of forgiveness that is the only way to eternal life – was right at the heart of Feba’s ministry from the very start. I think it is true to say that over the years the work has evolved, but I can say confidently today that I share the passion of our founders: to use radio and audio media to share the good news of Jesus Christ with some of those who might never come to hear of Him by any other means. We long to see people coming to follow Jesus Christ.

I consider it a great privilege to be leading Feba through this current season. I’m indebted to my various predecessors who have each contributed to making us what we are today. None of the men or women who have been part of the Feba story over the past 60 years - of those who have served in the UK or overseas, or indeed both - could have done this in their own strength; I certainly know I can’t. I don’t underestimate the impact on their families either – many of whom shared the burden of ministry and have paid a great price.

Establishing Feba’s base in the Seychelles was - unequivocally - an enormous undertaking. The scale and complexity, the boldness and audacity, the sheer brilliance of the idea and its diligent execution are genuinely awe-inspiring, even today. Countless men and women across Africa, Asia and the Middle East came to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour through broadcasts from that site, by the Holy Spirit.

I love the opening of the book of Joshua. The LORD speaks to Joshua in such direct, emphatic terms – and tells him repeatedly to be strong and courageous. We read in verse 9:

‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.’

Joshua was to be ‘strong and courageous’ not in his own strength, but because God was with him, and God had ordained the work that Joshua was to do; God would provide. That is very much the sense I have of the way in which John played his part at Feba: the ministry has always been God’s – it is His mission, and we are called to play our part in it. But that still required, nonetheless, the demonstration and application of terrific strength and courage on the part of our founders – they had a vitally important role to play, and for that I am so very thankful for the life, service, and relentless dedication of John Wheatley.

Bob Chambers, Chief Executive of Feba Radio UK.

A Tribute by Frank Gray

John has often been described as a ‘legend’ in FEBC. His involvement spanned more than 60 years having joined as a missionary radio engineer in the early 1950s. He served in FEBC’s expanding new international broadcasting venture begun in Manila, Philippines. Returning to UK in 1959 he made it his job to publicise the new missionary radio endeavour among UK churches. This was how I first came to hear of the work of the Far East Broadcasting Company.

During the following decade, when Manila’s shortwave signals to north India were found to be unreliable, John was assigned the task of finding a new transmitter location in the Indian Ocean. This resulted in the establishment of Feba-Seychelles which first went on air in 1969. Its purpose was to deliver the Gospel via reliable signals into the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and East Africa. It also signalled the formation of Far East Broadcasting Association (Feba) an enterprise funded completely by UK Christians.

He performed a wide range of tasks during his lifetime. Starting out as a radio engineer he soon became Overseas Programme Director in Manila. He travelled extensively around Southeast Asia encouraging programme production units in a variety of languages. He then became Project Manager in setting up Feba-Seychelles as a strategic transmitting hub. A major engineering feat was the erection of the antenna arrays on the reef. He later became field director for Seychelles before returning to UK to become General Director of Feba based in Woking, Surrey.

My first encounter with John was at the FEBC directors’ conference in Vancouver Canada in 1984. I found John to be a bundle of energy, never wasting a moment but taking every opportunity. We even played as a tennis doubles pair while in Korea. In the 1990s he worked with me out of UK when he was assigned the task of researching new technologies including satellite transmission. It took us to visit several installations. It was clear that the whole broadcasting industry was set to undergo massive change with the advent of digitalisation. John was very committed to research and did much to promote research among the international Christian broadcasters.

Alongside his long-time colleague and friend, John was also committed to Feba working hand in glove with the other FEBC resource and broadcasting fields. He was known and respected for his extensive knowledge and wisdom, serving as secretary to the FEBC International Council which later evolved into the FEBC International Association, of which Feba is a leading member.

We travelled a lot together during the 1990s, especially. I found him to be a warm colleague and a source of inspiration to many. He is well remembered in the Philippines as many tributes have indicated. He was also a spiritual man who knew and loved his Bible and could preach a good sermon, serving as a Lay Reader in the Anglican church in Worthing, West Sussex.

John will be well remembered and honoured after so many years of wide and varied service. "Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter now into the joy of your Lord!" 

Frank Gray, a current Feba UK trustee, former colleague and friend of John's.

If you would like to donate to a special fund that has been established in John's memory, please visit our online giving page and select the relevant reason for giving from the dropdown list: 'I'm giving in memory of John Wheatley (Feba's co-founder)'. Thank you.