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School of the Air (SOTA)

Michelle Riabkoff edits Explorers Magazine and presents the Fly,n'Hi radio programme too.
About Sota
Readers Write
Explorers Magazine, August 2005 cover

What John Flynn created with the Flying Doctor radio network in the 30's, Outback Patrol is carrying on with Scripture teaching on the School of the Air networks in many inland towns in the 90's. Outback Patrols teachers switch on their studio console at the patrol HQ and within a few minutes they are talking two-way to children spread across thousands of kilometers in central Australia.

The Explorers Club is part of the normal school curriculum at Cobar, Bourke, Hay, Tibooburra, Broken Hill and Charleville and the children cheerily call in with their happy hellos and answers to Bible study questions. Just ask Rose Cunnington (formerly) of the Charleville School of the Air how effective the classes are to her 60 children, and where Outback Patrol fits in. It completes the total framework of teaching the whole picture of living. Without Christian faith, education is incomplete. No happiness matches that which God Himself can provide.

"Turn to page three in your Explorers today, and let me hear who knows the name of King David's son, and what did he do that's different"?

And in micro seconds a flurry of children's voices flood the air as they seek to get in first with their replies. Explorers/Challenge Magazine is the resource published by Outback Patrol, and mailed to inland households each month for the School of the Air Explorers Club sessions. Inland teachers use it also, and missionaries as well, as a focus for Gospel teaching. It contains Australian stories, artists, and Gospel songs, and tries to make the Gospel as Australian as possible. With more than 20000 inland children on Schools of the Air, it's a mission field all of it's own. Explorers is sent to families by mail with it's own special kind of Christian support.

What the church is to building the city family, School of the Air and The Explorers Magazine is to inland families.

You Reach More Than You Think With a Drop of Ink

Explorers Magazine has been sent to children in hundreds of isolated schoolrooms every month for more than twenty-five years.

Readers Write:

“Send me five. Home school my children; no church to attend.” That’s a mother on a remote station on the Gunbarrel Highway in Western Australia.

“We’re moving from Camooweal. Add our new address; keep them coming to both.” That’s a bush missionary. 

“When the phone rings each week, I hear a dozen voices saying the verses, singing the Gospel song and answering the quizzes. Easier to learn of Jesus with Explorers in front of them.” That’s Gwenda at Orange who teaches a class by phone.

“Getting better,”  writes a pastor.

“I trusted in Jesus at 8 when a Patrol came. Gave me Explorers; been coming since. Nearing 30 I couldn’t do without it in Sunday school.” That’s Tanya formerly from Andamooka. 

“Offer it to inmates. Reveals a lot when they accept or reject it. Hard ones are like a drowning man refusing a life-line. Others use it in group studies together. Better than handing out Bibles. Even the hard ones come around from curiosity.” That’s warden at a Territory prison.

“My children want the next patrol now; read about GoodNews and Quizworx and Chysalis. Can’t want that long.” That’s a one-room school teacher outback. 

“Mine go for puzzles and quizzes. Finish first day. Rest of the month, it’s the daily Bible verses to learn.” A mother of four.

“Our patients are too sick to go home, but not sick enough to RFDS evacuate. Back copies get a going over, even me. Keep new ones coming.” That’s a nurse in a 4-bed bush hospital. 

“Surprised at the oldies. Eat it up better than daily food. My relief valve; owe you for saving my bacon.” An aged home manager. 

“You’ll never know how it’s been my lifeline. Children eagerly wait for the Scripture hour to pray The Lord’s Prayer. Gives me a wonderful break.” Another one-room school teacher.

John and Joslyn prayed their table grace from Explorers for years, even with a drunken dad complaining, but a supporting Mum. 

“My children love the knock-knock jokes back and forth. Opens them up for the Bible story too.”

“They learned the Lord’s Prayer from Explorers,” another phone class.

So, Explorers Magazine has surprisingly penetrated unexpected and unreachable places, made lots of friends, revealed enemies, but keeps turning thousands of heads toward the Lord Jesus Christ anyway. Approved by the State Department of Education for teaching Scripture. It’s what Outback Patrol does.

Explorers Magazine August 2005

Explorers Magazine
August 2005 cover
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