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
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