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
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