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“Called a Nazarene”: Please support Christians targeted for their faith in the Middle East


“Our faith in Jesus Christ is strong. Whatever they want to do to us, let it be. And if they put a knife to my neck, I will say, ‘kill me’. My faith will ever be in Jesus Christ until death.”

This was the incredible response of “Samy” (name changed), an Iraqi Christian who fled from the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Mosul earlier this year. He was interviewed by SAT-7 for a special episode of our current affairs programme Bridges filmed in Erbil, Kurdistan, where thousands of Christians have taken refuge.

Christianity was born in the Middle East over 2,000 years ago. But as we look forward to celebrating the momentous birth of Jesus Christ, the survival of the faith and His followers in Christianity’s historic heartlands are under grave threat.

Christians in Iraq and Syria are in the most acute danger as a result of the onslaught by Islamic State, who wrongly consider Christianity a Western religion and are using brutal and terrifying means in their efforts to eliminate it from the region.

Like Jesus who, as a baby, under the threat of death at the hands of King Herod had to escape to Egypt, Christians have been fleeing for their lives. And like Jesus, who in fulfilment of prophesy was later “called a Nazarene” (Matt. 2:23), the property of Christians in Iraq has been daubed with the Arabic letter “N” (ن) for “Nazarene” and seized.
 
In both Iraq and Syria, Christians have been given the dreadful ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax (a humiliating sign of submission by non-Muslims in conquered Islamic territory), leave or “face the sword”.
A Christian man from Mosul, Iraq, told SAT-7, “We fled our country as our country does not want us anymore.”

“State of emergency”
Issuing a “state of emergency” earlier this year concerning the continued existence of historic Christian communities in large parts of the Middle East, Syrian and Lebanese church leaders said the killings and religious “cleansing” by Islamic State “verge on being a bona fide genocide”. In a statement, they warned:
"The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution. It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

In addition to a number of humanitarian and practical measures, the church leaders called for a strategy “to support Christian presence in the East”.

SAT-7 supporting Christians
This is SAT-7’s mission. But more than that, despite the seemingly overwhelming challenges, our vision is to see a growing Church in the Middle East and North Africa, confident in Christian faith and witness, serving the community and contributing to the good of society and culture. As Advent approaches and we reflect on the miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus, we are reminded of the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

SAT-7 is uniquely placed to reach desolate people in the Middle East with the message of Gospel hope. Broadcasting 24 hours a day in four languages via satellite TV and the internet into millions of homes – and even refugee camps – SAT-7 is encouraging beleaguered Christians in their faith and enabling others to hear the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

With a known audience of 15 million viewers, SAT-7 is making a huge impact in the region. Our largest single viewing audience is in Iraq where one in three Iraqi children watches SAT-7 KIDS!*

A SAT-7 viewer who fled from Syria wrote: “It’s always great to watch SAT-7’s excellent programmes. It’s a pure source of good Christian teaching, encouragement, and comfort especially for us who live far from our home countries.”

As well as consoling viewers in the midst of tremendous turmoil, SAT-7’s programmes are giving the region’s Christians a public platform to respond to what is happening to them. Their witness for Christ in the face of such extreme persecution is truly inspiring. 

On the visit to Kurdistan, the SAT-7 crew from Bridges filmed Christians singing a powerful song about their property being labelled with the Arabic letter ن for “Nazarene”:

“Oh if they knew, oh if they were aware, what this ن means, they wouldn’t have put it on our walls… ن means to love, yes we love, ن means to build, we built, and we will build more.  نmeans to believe, to teach, to be peaceful, graceful, to understand and to forgive you, forgive all.”

The same Christ-like attitude was echoed by a church leader from Mosul, who told SAT-7: “So they marked us with the letter ن. I’m proud of this; it carries the meaning of serving, sacrificing for others – all the positive meanings.”

We need your support
Will you help SAT-7 to support the Christian presence and witness in the birthplace of Christianity this Christmas?

Your gift of £25 would enable SAT-7 to encourage a large extended family with uplifting Christian programmes for an entire year! A donation of £50 would cover the transmission costs for a children’s programme on SAT-7 KIDS, allowing us to reach the next generation of Arabs with the Good News!

*Independent research conducted in 2011 by Intermedia in the Middle East into people’s television viewing habits 

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel of peace right across the troubled Middle East!

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