There was a record attendance at last week’s annual conference of SAT-7, the Middle East Christian satellite TV broadcaster.
Held for the first time in Turkey, from 26-28 March, SAT-7’s annual ‘Network’ conference attracted 250 people from 25 countries, an indication of the growing concern for the troubled Middle East region among many people around the world.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Broadcasting HOPE in an era of hopelessness’. In his keynote address on the opening day of the conference SAT-7 CEO Dr Terence Ascott outlined the seemingly hopeless situation in the Middle East and North Africa: the failure of the political uprisings of the Arab Spring; the continuing instability and insecurity in many countries; the continuing lack of economic and educational opportunities; a widespread disillusionment with religion; the general lack of ability for Middle Easterners to reconcile, and the subsequent long-running unresolved political conflicts in the region; the obvious breakdown of ethical and moral behaviour in many parts of society; the low status accorded to women in many lands; the loss of trust in the media; and so on.
Despite these apparently desperate circumstances, SAT-7’s Arabic, Farsi and Turkish language channels are reaching 15 million viewers across the Middle East and North Africa, and Dr Ascott went on to describe how SAT-7 brings hope to the region: with the Gospel – a message of HOPE and truth for everyone; by supporting isolated believers; through presenting testimonies of HOPE; modelling inclusiveness and pluralistic debate; by reaching and empowering women and children; supporting Church unity; supporting and interacting personally with viewers in need…
Dr Ascott reminded his audience of SAT-7’s dual goals: making the Gospel available to all in the Middle East and North Africa, and especially to children, women, people who are unable to read or write, and people living in homes which have been traditionally ‘closed’ to the message of the Gospel; and encouraging the church in the Middle East and North Africa in its life, work and witness for Christ.
The conference was attended by a wide variety of delegates, including TV producers, supporters, church leaders and staff. Representatives of partner organizations from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia spoke about the reasons why they support and work together with SAT-7. Kuan Kim Seng, Dean of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in Singapore said:
‘It is reasonable to see SAT-7 as being as significant as Christian shortwave radio broadcasts were to China fifty years ago. In fact the impact of SAT-7 could well be even more considerable. It has a great platform with satellite TV, and it has the potential to impact millions of people. God is doing a mighty work in SAT-7. Nearly ten million children regularly watch SAT-7’s programs and, in ten years’ time, those children will be adults, having heard through SAT-7 about Christ. Imagine what God can do in their lives. We should pray for the children of the Middle East, that they will change their societies. God is using SAT-7 to bring blessing to the Middle East and North Africa.’