By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A global Christian broadcaster says “isolated Christians” in the Middle East and North Africa use visual and digital technology to keep their faith alive amid mounting persecution.
SAT-7, which claims to reach 25 million people in the troubled region, said virtually “uncensorable” media was crucial in “an increasingly lonely environment for believers.”
In some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, where 3 percent of the population is Christian, believers are banned from visiting a church and live in fear for their lives, said SAT 7.
Sometimes a Christiaan doesn’t don’t have one other believer to talk with. “These are the world’s loneliest Christians,” said Rex Rogers, president of SAT-7 USA (www.sat7usa.org) in a statement.
He said the “media ministry” broadcasts faith-based programs via satellite and streams video online in local languages across the region 24/7. “They’re crying out: ‘Don’t leave us alone.'”
The Middle East-based broadcaster says it reaches millions in their homes and on their phones — including isolated believers in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.
SAT 7 also interacts with them via social media and live chat. In Morocco, Rita El-Mounayer — SAT-7’s Middle East-born CEO — said she found a small, isolated group of believers. They were apparently “glued to the ministry’s Arabic-language satellite television” broadcast. “They were hanging on every word, with pen and paper in hand to take notes and jot down the words of the worship songs,” she claimed.
For thousands in this volatile region, being a follower of Christ is difficult and often dangerous — a journey many walks alone, Worthy News learned.
“It’s not easy to be a Christian in a country where everyone is a (non-Christian) by default,” said SAT-7 ARABIC presenter Samia Kessai in Algeria. In Algeria, churches have been closed by the government during the pandemic, and believers fear they might never re-open. “Many believers here feel lost,” Kessai added.
“My five-year-old son asks me why we’re not praying in the church. He doesn’t understand.”
The network is a “lifeline” for believers who “have nowhere to go to seek fellowship,” Kessai stressed.
Nabila — whose full name was withheld — says his brothers threatened to kill him when they found out he’d become a Christian. Like many others, he watches SAT-7 — his only source of Christian fellowship — in secret.
In Iran, Elmira, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was forced to marry at age 11 and was sold as a prostitute to fund her husband’s drug habit. By age 15, she had two children. “I felt like I was nothing,” she recalled in a statement shared with Worthy News.
When Elmira came across SAT-7’s local channel, she suddenly saw she wasn’t alone. “I heard how I really am loved… how God could help me. That changed everything.”
While church groups day Christianity is spreading faster in Iran than in most many believers — like Elmira — have to practice their faith in secret. They reportedly tune into satellite broadcasts that governments can’t easily jam and stream on-demand Christian programs on their phones and mobile devices.
Children in Iran watching SAT 7 are reportedly praying for children in Afghanistan, where the ruling Islamist Taliban group forced Christians into hiding. Christian girls live in terror of being abducted as child brides and sex slaves, the network said.
Amid the misery, Sargez, a viewer in Afghanistan, recently told the SAT-7 PARS Farsi-language channel: “I’ve become captivated by the love in Christianity.”
Launched in 1996, SAT-7 has its international headquarters in Cyprus. It says its mission is to “make the Gospel available to everyone, and support the church in its life, work and witness for Jesus Christ.”
SAT-7 “broadcasts 24/7 in Arabic, Farsi (Persian), Dari, and Turkish, using multiple satellite channels and online services,” the network explained.
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