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Satellite television in the Middle East and North Africa, the region directly influenced in the past several months by the "Arab Spring," is a very powerful cultural influencer. Practically and technologically speaking, there is simply no other means available that is as efficient or as effective as satellite television in reaching 500+ million people in a region characterized by closed countries and illiteracy rates as high as 50%. In addition, people in the region tend to learn orally. In other words, they like to listen to and learn from stories, particularly ones they can view on TV.

Founded 16 years ago, SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry, tells wonderful stories about living life with the enablement of the gracious Sovereign God and His Word. SAT-7 broadcasts daily in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish throughout 22 countries in the region, and its programs are known for their production quality, variety, and uplifting presentation of the Christian faith.

Here's more:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

SAT-7’s satellite television footprints cover, which is to say, “reach,” 50 countries on the continent of Europe.

Since SAT-7’s programming is produced in Arabic, Farsi (Persian), and Turkish one might be forgiven for wondering why reaching Europe matters.

SAT-7 is based in the Middle East and broadcasts Christian programming over five channels in the three primary languages of the region, throughout the 22 countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). For nearly sixteen years this has been SAT-7’s focus and mission and remains so.

But SAT-7 isn’t simply about a region or political boundaries. It’s about sharing the Word of God with people, in this case people who speak Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish.

In an increasingly mobile world and in a world experiencing incredible advances in communications technology more people than ever in history are moving or migrating or immigrating/emigrating. They’re born in one country and live great portions of their lives in another. They fly on planes, ride trains, sail on boats and ships, and even still walk across international borders.

And when they get “there,” they can still connect with home.

Travelers may come as intentional migrants looking for better economic opportunities, or they may come as refugees fleeing oppression, war, social instability, or natural disasters and other environmental challenges like a lack of water. Migrants may go from one country to another with full intention of returning home one day, whether they ever do. They may come to get a job and send money home, remittances, to left-behind family members. Or they may come with a plan to stay, hoping for a better, safer, optimistic future for their children.

Since 2002, somewhere between 1.6 million and 2 million people have been entering Europe each year, up from the approximately one-half million per year toward the end of the 20th Century. Most of these immigrants hail from MENA.

While many younger and better-educated immigrants speak second languages, particularly English, most immigrants entering Europe in recent years have not been younger or well educated. Many know only their first language, i.e., Arabic, Farsi, or Turkish. Either way, one's mother tongue is always the best understood.

Moving, and certainly migrating, is one the highest stress events human beings can experience. Beginning a new job is another. So is culture shock, learning another language, and social/physical distance from family and friends. When people experience such stress, particularly over long periods, they tend to open eventually to new or alternative ideas, including at times religion. And they ask more questions looking for answers to the everyday changes in their lives.

As noted above, the coverage area of the two satellites on which SAT-7 broadcasts reaches throughout Europe. This means MENA expatriates now living in European countries can access Christian programming in their first language from their own homes via satellite television, just like their family members still living in MENA. They can connect to their culture of origin. They can find answers to many of their questions in the practical applications of the Christian faith. They can find solace amidst uncertainty and encouragement in the face of challenges.

SAT-7’s ministry has always been by and for the people of MENA. But now many millions of the people of MENA are living somewhere else. They still need the Gospel and the blessings of a Christian worldview. Those who know Christ need to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. One way they can experience this, far from home, is to watch available SAT-7 Christian television.

One of my favorite emails came to SAT-7 in June 2010. It was a little boy who talked about how much he loved “Bedtime Stories with Rita,” a popular program featured on SAT-7 KIDS. The program is in Arabic and is produced in the Middle East. He sent the email from Sweden.

Far away in Scandinavia, far from the land of his birth, yet the little boy could learn from Bible stories broadcast in his first language. It is indeed a small world, and God is indeed a big God.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

SAT-7 KIDS just launched a new website for Arab children who watch the SAT-7 KIDS satellite television channel. The new website, www.sat7kids.com, will provide ways for youthful viewers to interact with their favorite programs and characters and learn more about how God loves and cares for them. 

The new SAT-7 KIDS website is especially designed for children's eyes. It features attractive colors and graphics, speaking images, and sound-backed icons. There's also a special page for parents. In addition, the website is available in both Arabic and English.

SAT-7 KIDS is also posting more and more videos to its YouTube channel, SAT7KIDS. Unlike the regional coverage of satellite television, young Arabic language viewers may access this Internet-based channel from anywhere in the world.

A recent independent media survey indicated far more older youth and adult viewers were watching SAT-7 KIDS than was earlier believed. The channel is influential in teaching biblical principles, sharing the Christian faith, teaching children about science, geography, history, and culture, and providing a safe and positive media environment.

On air beginning December 2007, SAT-7 KIDS is the only 24 hour/7 day per week Arabic language Christian television channel for children (ages 4-13) in the world. It is one of five chanels produced and operated by SAT-7, which broadcasts throughout 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as some 50 countries in Europe. SAT-7 maintians a US support office at www.sat7usa.org. 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

This brief video is a promo for a new SAT-7 program called "Salt of the Earth." The program will focus upon issues, events, concerns and opportunities developing in different countries as a result of the Arab Spring. In particular, the program will help believers discern how to be "salt" and "light" within cultures that do not always welcome them.

 

Sometimes people ask me, "What really can SAT-7 do in the Middle East?" I'd point to this program as one answer.

Seems like this is our week for videos.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Mr. Terence Ascott is the recipient of the Honorary Doctor of Christian Ministries from Belhaven University. Mr. Ascott also gave the commencement address at the university’s IXth Orlando Commencement, December 8, 2011.

Dr. Ascott was recognized for his pioneering service in Christian satellite television in the Middle East and North Africa, for his contribution as Founder of SAT-7, and for his continuing service in advancing the cause of Christ in a region highly resistant to Christianity, the Church, and at times individual Christians. Dr. Ascott helped craft a new model of ministry and missions, one that strategically communicates theology through a technology providentially available for such a time as this.

Dr. Ascott saw the spiritual need in the Middle East and developed a vision for fulfilling that need using satellite television. In a region characterized by violent reaction to religious ideas and activities different from those of domineering religious regimes, Dr. Ascott recognized that satellite television could enable broadcasters to bypass such obstacles and reach directly into the homes of the people.

In 1995, Dr. Ascott and regional Christian leaders founded SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry that began with two hours of Arabic programming per week. In the early years, the ministry’s progress was slowed by potential Middle East actors’ and hosts’ fear of appearing on screen, a dearth of television on and off-camera talent, and limited funds.

Today, SAT-7 broadcasts 24/7 over 5 channels across 7 time zones throughout 22 countries of the Middle East and North Africa, along with some 50 countries in Europe. One of the channels, SAT-7 KIDS, is the only Arabic Christian television channel in the world. Production values are high, the Christian faith is effectively communicated via almost every genre of television programming, and 80% of what airs has been produced in the Middle East by Middle Easterners. Support offices exist in Canada, Europe, the UK, and the US.

From the beginning, Dr. Ascott’s vision included the three dominant languages of the region: Arabic, Persian (Farsi), and Turkish. These languages include a population of more than 500 million living in some of the most religiously or socially closed or largely closed countries of the world. Yet the region has been historically neglected by Christian outreach and remains so today. This is SAT-7’s opportunity and niche.

Dr. Ascott helped define SAT-7’s distinctive ministry model. SAT-7’s “Ethos”—it’s core values—requires the ministry to remain thoroughly Christian but non-political and non-partisan, to not request funds on air, to never attack or demean other religions, and to be culturally sensitive (respectful) in the Middle East context. This Ethos helped SAT-7 develop programming that opens doors to Middle Eastern homes and hearts.

Dr. Ascott has lived in the Middle East and served as the leader for indigenous media ministries for more than 35 years. In 1973 he and his family moved to Beirut, Lebanon and helped launch an Arabic Christian publishing ministry. After the start of the Lebanese Civil War, he and his family evacuated to Egypt where he helped begin the Arabic youth magazine, Magalla. This was the first Christian magazine to be successfully distributed on Egyptian newsstands. Magalla was published for 20 years and, according to many Arab Christians, was instrumental in bringing many people to Christ.

Following this, Dr. Ascott focused upon SAT-7. In a video shown during the commencement, university president Dr. Roger Parrott expressed his high regard for SAT-7 and Mr. Ascott.

Dr. Ascott holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering with honors from the Middlesex University, England. He and his wife Jacqueline live in Cyprus and have three adult children and one grandchild.

Dr. Ascott continues as the International CEO of SAT-7.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

I work with SAT-7, a Cyprus-based Christian satellite television ministry broadcasting in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish to 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and 50 countries in Europe too. It’s a distinctive ministry methodology, using satellite broadcasts to beam uncensored Christian programming into a few open but many closed or largely closed countries in the region.

In particular, I serve with SAT-7 USA, the Easton, Maryland based American development arm of SAT-7. SAT-7 USA is what we call a support office. Others include SAT-7 Europe, SAT-7 UK, and SAT-7 Canada.

Christian satellite television is not your grandfather’s approach to missions. It’s been around for about 15 years, but it’s still viable. On the bleeding edge satellite television is converging with smart phones, social media, and other similar technologies, so who knows what the future holds? Still, satellite television in the Middle East is predicted to be viable for some years to come in a region of the world where more than 50% of the people are illiterate and the Internet has yet to make the infrastructure inroads it has in Asia.

While SAT-7 represents a creative and effective ministry paradigm, we still need in-country on ground missionaries, and God bless them for their work. But in many places in the Middle East and North Africa people involved in Christian work cannot safely carry out their assignments. In some countries like Saudi Arabia churches are banned. In some countries like Iran, churches exist but typically as secret house churches. Believers meet in small groups, are led by whoever is available, and sing in whispers.

These circumstances represent more reasons why I believe SAT-7’s capacity to edify the region’s Church and evangelize the lost via satellite television is such an incredible technological gift for such a time as this. It’s spiritually effective: we know this from the innumerable audience comments we receive testifying to changed lives. And it’s financially efficient: we’re able to reach viewers for about $1 per viewer per year. Incredible.

Allow me to speak personally for a moment. I recognize that even if God allowed me to live until I’m considered elderly, I’ve already lived most of my life on earth. Only God knows how long I will live. I don’t. But I do know that I want to finish well. I want to use my time for the Lord.

I want to be engaged in a ministry that brings the message of Christ to people in a way that changes their lives. I want to give money to a ministry that has integrity, exercises good stewardship, and aspires to do more for the Lord. I want to support and pray for a ministry that is at the center of global significance.

This is SAT-7. It’s getting the job done despite political, social, ideological, religious, and cultural obstacles. It works.

So with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I am glad and thankful God has placed me where he has. To serve him in support of such a spiritually strategic ministry is a privilege.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.