DAY 1: PREPARE
Welcome to DAY 1 of 40 Days of Prayer to Answer the Cry. Whether you’re an existing supporter of SAT-7 or new to our ministry, you are very welcome!
Thank you for joining us to pray for the people of the Middle East and North Africa. Some days we will tell stories from one of SAT-7’s viewers or share information from across the region. Other days a picture, quote or Bible verse will be all that’s needed to help us reflect, pray and prepare… together.
The dictionary definition of PREPARE is: Make (something) ready for use or consideration. For Christians across the Middle East, the time leading up to Easter holds special significance, and preparation – making something ready – is key. If you have never marked these 40 days in this way before, please use this time as an opportunity to journey deeper into God’s love for you and for his world – both the joys and the sorrows.
As we journey together, let us prepare ourselves to hear the stories, hopes and dreams of people from across the region – to walk a little in their shoes as we look towards Easter and as together we Answer the Cry.
for everyone who has committed to pray and prepare during this time of Lent – that we would all draw closer to God and the people of the Middle East and North Africa at this time.
QUESTION: Do you ever wonder why bad things happen, to yourself, your family, or to the thousands of people around the world faced with seemingly unending trial at this time? As we travel on the road towards Easter, perhaps we all need reminding that a part of preparing our hearts means asking if we need to forgive.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
But with so much hurt and harm being given and received across the Middle East region, forgiveness, and the finding of peace amidst turmoil, could seem like an impossible command.
Today we are praying for children like Azraa from the Nineveh Valley in Iraq. She told SAT-7 how she and her family – like thousands threatened by the militants – had to flee to Iraqi Kurdistan. The young girl said: “We used to wonder why God did this to us and why we were forcibly displaced. Why did He allow this? But we found out it was the opposite and that God cares for us… He did a lot for us and protected us from Daesh (so-called Islamic State).”
God’s love and forgiveness enabled Azraa to forgive the terrorists who had forced her to flee her home. Azraa told SAT-7: “When I came to know the Lord, I realised that I did many wrong things but God forgave me. The same goes for Daesh: God is willing to forgive them.”
for the hearts and minds of those like Azraa who have been hurt. That God will prepare their hearts to forgive and to find peace – that they will be given the strength of our Saviour.
Today we are focusing our thoughts and prayers on Turkey:
Population: 77 million; 99.5% Muslim; 0.5% Christian. SAT-7 TÜRK is available on Turkey’s national satellite service to over 50 million people.
While terrorist attacks have made Turkey the subject of many news reports, SAT-7 TÜRK has expanded its production of live, locally made television broadcasts for audiences in Turkey and beyond.
New 90-minute and two-hour daily magazine shows for children and women share hope and companionship. A prayer request show offers the concerns of Turkish people in dark and difficult days to the God who loves them.
The channel has recently increased security at its studio and plans to implement further measures. Speaking about the mood of staff in the SAT-7 TÜRK office, one team member said, “I can see from their faces that people are more concerned about threats and terror.”
In the opening days of 2017, terrorism also struck Iraq. Please continue to pray for peace in the Middle East and North Africa, and for SAT-7 teams throughout the region as they develop creative television programmes to make God’s love visible to the network’s millions of viewers.
QUESTION: When faced with different challenges what resources do you have that keep you going? Have you made vows, declarations of faith, or promises that strengthen your resolve ‘through the storm’?
Last year a SAT-7 TÜRK film crew visited the first ever Christian youth event in Mardin, Turkey, at which two teenage Syrian refugees were baptised. More than 30 young Christians from across eastern Turkey gathered in the ancient city of Mardin, which is just 20 miles from the Syrian border, for the historic meeting.
You don’t normally hear this type of ‘good news’ on the TV, but SAT-7 TÜRK aired footage from the youth event on its weekly live news programme, which brings a Christian perspective on national and international events.
The theme of the youth event was inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
for this new church and its activity in Mardin. Pray for all those who attended the youth event, especially the two young Syrians who were baptised, that God will continue to strengthen their faith. Pray that SAT-7 TÜRK’s coverage of Christian events will help Turkish viewers to grow in their understanding of Christianity.
Sunday 5 March
REFLECT: On this first Sunday in Lent we are pressing the pause button.
Take five or ten minutes to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to what God is saying to you today … and then pray.
DAY 5: KNOW
QUESTION: How do you know what you know? Who told you, what book did you read, which programme did you watch? In a world full of doubt over fact and fiction, being able to trust ‘who’ and ‘what’ we know is becoming increasingly important.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” I Corinthians 13:12
SAT-7’s goal has always been to “Make God’s love visible”, so it’s always a delight to hear when this good news is reaching minds and hearts for the first time. A young woman called Shadia, who watches our children’s channel with her sisters from The Gulf, emailed SAT-7. She told SAT-7 KIDS “how I love you and love the songs”, but also shared how her “sisters and I tried to become Christians”. She said, “We prayed, but we don’t know how Jesus can hear our prayers because we are not in Lebanon, Jordan, or Egypt”.
A member of SAT-7’s Viewer Support Team responded immediately to Shadia’s message, explaining that “The nature of Jesus [means] that He can hear our prayers everywhere and at any time”. Then he went on to describe “Jesus’ endless love for her (and for all people).
for SAT-7’s continued ministry to Shadia, her sisters and many thousands of people in similar situations across the region. Pray that through this period of Lent many people will come to know God’s love in their lives for the first time.
QUESTION: When was the last time you couldn’t remember something? Perhaps it was something that you did know, but it was on the tip of your tongue, or the edge of your memory. When was the last time you were really desperate to know something or someone that you knew would change your life?
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2:28
Samir, a young man from Afghanistan, was desperate to know the truth. When he began reading an old English language, Bible a profound peace came over him. Although Samir couldn’t understand what he was reading, he said, “I never felt this peace when I read any other books.”
Samir was desperate to know more, but who could explain the meaning behind his experience and the deeper truths of the Bible? He had to be careful who he spoke to because asking such questions could result in imprisonment – or worse.
for SAT-7’s continued ministry to people like Samir – young men in similar situations right across the region who are desperate to find peace and purpose. Pray that they may know healing and release from anger and the bitterness of disappointment – that they may find meaning in often confusing and challenging situations.
REFLECT: Today is International Women’s Day. This week’s viewer reflection comes from an Iranian woman who’s life has been transformed by God. She says, “It is no longer that I rely on my own understanding and thoughts, but on the leading of the Holy Spirit in my heart. My life is full of beauty and joy.”
Take five or ten minutes to THANK God for the things in your life that make sense, that are beautiful and that bring you joy.
Thank God for those in Iran and across the region who have found their creator and saviour.
Do you have access to a Bible? Christian friends? a local church to learn and live in community? What would you do and how would you cope if most of those precious things were taken away? Where would your support come from?
Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Christians are a very small minority in the Middle East and North Africa, and in some of the countries where SAT-7 broadcasts, they face severe persecution. Every day, isolated believers cry out to SAT-7 for support, prayer and fellowship. Arvin* from Iran gave his heart to Christ 18 months ago:
“It is not easy here in Iran. I do not have access to books or people to teach me more about Christianity. I would like to go to a church, to pray and love Jesus and God without fear. I would love to be a real Christian and attend church in a free country, and tell people how God showed himself to me. Please, please, please help and guide me. I’m eager for your response.”
*name changed, image for illustrative purposes.
Thank God that SAT-7’s viewer support team are in regular contact with Arvin to encourage him in his faith. Pray that he, and many others in his situation, will continue to take part in our weekly Bible studies over Skype. Thank God for the Answer the Cry campaign that continues to give supporters a chance to help us to be there for people like Arvin.
Today we are focusing our thoughts and prayers on the North African country of Algeria:
Population: 40.3 million (2016 estimate); 99% Muslim; <1% Christian; 99% ethnically Berber but only 15% identify as Berber, others as Arab; literacy: 87% men; 73% women
What is now Algeria was once home to Saint Augustine (AD 354-430), one of the Church’s foremost theologians. Christianity flourished here between the fifth and seventh centuries but gradually disappeared after the Arab invasions.
Although new churches were started under French rule, since independence an entirely local church has been born among the Berber people. Its astonishing growth in the last few decades is thought to be the fastest in the Arab world, with several thousand new believers being baptised every year.
SAT-7 responded by training a local Algerian team in TV production to multiply the witness and discipleship potential of this young Church. Today, SAT-7 broadcasts a wealth of locally produced Bible teaching, discipleship and testimony programmes.
Give thanks for the numbers coming to Christ in Algeria, for Christians who openly share their testimonies on SAT-7, pray for their growth in Christ and for our small Algerian team.
QUESTION: Think back to the time you gave your life to Christ. Maybe your faith developed gradually over time or maybe you can recall a particular event where you responded to God. How did you feel?
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2-3
It is good to recall our own individual journeys of faith. As we continue towards Easter, we can look back on how God has drawn us to himself, caused us to trust in his truth and enabled us to grow in the knowledge of our Saviour. Our hearts are changed as we look to Jesus to guide and strengthen us.
Today we are praying for young believers who have encountered God through SAT-7’s programmes. Hosam*, aged 13 from Morocco, was desperately seeking for truth and values to guide his life. “I was lost, couldn’t find the right place or religion to settle on”, he said. Hosam stumbled across SAT-7 KIDS channel and, intrigued by the message presented, began to think through the gospel for himself. Hosam shares his joy after praying to receive God’s salvation for himself: “I was so happy, full of life and energy, and this is what is now happening to me every day”.
* name has been changed
for Hosam and believers like him, who have discovered the joy of salvation through SAT-7’s programmes. Pray that they will grow in their understanding of Christ and live out their lives according to the truth of God’s word. Praise God for the life-changing messages SAT-7 is able to broadcast. Ask that more young people seeking meaning and value will find SAT-7 KIDS and discover the truth of the gospel for themselves.
Sunday 12 March
QUESTION: What’s the most difficult situation you’ve ever had to face? Have you ever had to physically protect yourself or someone you loved from harm? Have you ever had to leave your home suddenly without being able to take anything with you – without even being able to say goodbye? Our news shows all too clearly that it’s not easy for those living in the MENA region to protect themselves and their families from harm – especially when facing persecution.
Today we are praying for people like Fatma, her husband Ibrahim and their three girls. Faced with violence and torture they took the ultimate step of leaving their home country, becoming five of Lebanon’s one million plus Syrian refugees.
In confusion, they prayed: “We said, ‘Please, Lord, if you are the God we read about, that everybody is telling us about, please show yourself – any sign, any sign.” Fatma says the sign came in a dream: “I saw a hand holding my hand and saying ‘Come with me’. This hand was leading me and pointing to a Bible and said ‘You will find the truth here’. So the couple started going to a church and “reading more and believing more”.
for the protection of all who seek to live peaceful lives across the region and for those who are on the move – that they will be shown the kindness of our Saviour.
QUESTION: When someone says the words “paying the highest price”, what images spring to mind? A Black Friday special deal or even perhaps an auction house sale? But what about your own life?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
For many Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, Jesus’ call to carry their cross can mean enduring discrimination, family rejection, suspicion or arrest. For some, it means paying the highest and ultimate price. Such was the case for Dany, a 15-year old Iraqi viewer of SAT-7, living in Libya. In May 2014, Dany was abducted and shot three times for being a Christian.
Despite her obvious pain and tremendous shock, Dany’s mother, Mona, was able to share on SAT-7 of God’s comfort and peace. “When we heard the news of his murder, the women in our family and friends wept but I found myself singing hymns. Even I was shocked at my reaction. When we went to see him for the last time before his burial, it was very hard but I said to Jesus, ‘Please give me Your eyes to see my son and please give me the strength to be able to endure’ and I went, still singing hymns, to see my son before he went to heaven.”
Mona’s faithful witness has brought encouragement to thousands of viewers across the world.
for Christians who are suffering pressure and persecution in many forms for their faith in Jesus. Give thanks for Mona’s testimony of finding strength in God through the worst of trials. Pray that her story will continue to bring hope to others suffering in Christ’s name.
REFLECT: This week’s viewer reflection comes from a Turkish man whose life is being changed by watching SAT-7 and through reading the Bible.
‘Face to Face’ is a series on SAT-7 TURK that aims to give a biblical analysis of commonly held beliefs and superstitions.
Following the programme, Serkan in Istanbul contacted SAT-7 TURK to say:
I watched ‘Face to Face’ with great interest. I am not a believer but I see myself as very close to Christianity. In the programme, I got the impression that the Holy Bible has no contradictions with our world today. Today’s world puts humankind under such pressure that there is no other place than the Bible to seek shelter. The real goal is to live this modern life in the framework of holy principles brought by Jesus. I want to thank you for making a programme like this.”
TAKE FIVE minutes to THINK about the areas in your life that are under pressure.
TAKE FIVE minutes to FOCUS on a Bible passage that puts your situation into context.
TAKE FIVE minutes to THANK God that we can seek shelter in His word. PRAY today for men, like Serkan, whose hearts and minds are being transformed by the word of life.
QUESTION: If you have children between the ages of six to sixteen (or have friends who do), how easy do you find it to ‘encourage’ them to go to church on a Sunday morning? Do they see their church community as a place that helps and supports them as they grow?
I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”. Psalm 121:1-2
Persecution comes in many forms but it can be particularly harsh when your persecutors are your closest family. Salma, a young woman from Morocco, was just 13 when she turned to God and began attending church, even though she knew her family would disapprove. Six years ago, her father caught her leaving a church service and, since then, Salma has been banned from leaving the house.
Salma told SAT-7’s viewer support team, “My parents hate me. They don’t even eat with me. They force me to stay at home. I don’t go anywhere, not even to school. They call me ‘faithless’ but I don’t care about that.”
However, in the face of this opposition and isolation as a believer, Salma holds on to her resolute faith in God and draws strength from SAT-7 programmes. She even engages her family in conversation about the programmes, trying to present the gospel to them.
for isolated believers like Salma who are unable to attend church or fellowship with other believers. Pray that they will be strengthened by God’s word to endure their situations, witness to those around them and draw closer to the Saviour.
Population: 94.7 million; 90% Muslim; 10% Christian; literacy 82.2% men; 65.4% women
Egypt, the most populous country in the Middle East region, also has the largest Christian community. The majority Coptic Orthodox Church traces its origins to the first century and Protestant churches, here since the 19th century, are active in evangelism and social action.
But Christians are vulnerable. A bomb attack on a Cairo church on 12 December 2016 killed 29 worshippers and last month over 500 Christians fled their homes after death threats and killings by Islamist insurgents in Northern Sinai.
SAT-7’s Egypt-produced programmes seek to counter this with messages of forgiveness and respect for all. SAT-7 gives a voice to Christians facing persecution and its Cairo studio has an impressive output of programmes. This includes popular worship, women’s, youth and children’s shows, drama and even comedy. It has pioneered live coverage of large-scale Christian conferences and prayers for the nation, and has sent teams to film in Iraq.
Give thanks for Egyptian Christians’ vision to be a light to the Arab world. Pray for their security and for the creative work of SAT-7’s Cairo studio and many associated ministries in Egypt.
QUESTION: How are you finding your journey through Lent? Are you able to make space and time for study and reflection, or are you grabbing little moments of solitude here and there? If someone were to ask you to share what you are learning, or even your full testimony of faith, would you be ready, willing and able to share… and serve?
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind”. Philippians 2:1-2
Disillusioned with the view of God she had been taught, Karema began searching for spiritual answers as a young graduate. The wonder of God humbling himself and coming into the world as a man, sharing our experiences and pain, was crucial in Karema’s journey of accepting Christ as her Saviour.
When her community learned of her belief in Christ, Karema realised she was in danger and fled her home country of Egypt. She is now ministering to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, meeting practical needs and teaching the Bible to those hungry for spiritual truth, as she was once herself.
Karema shared her story with SAT-7. She says, “They asked ‘Why are you so kind to us, what is behind this?’ so we explained how Jesus had put in our hearts to go and help the strangers.”
for Christians seeking to minister God’s love to those suffering around them. Ask that God will protect them as they serve him in difficult situations and that they will be encouraged in their faith by SAT-7 programmes. Pray that their actions will cause those they are serving to look to God as the source of all comfort and compassion.
Sunday 19 March
ACTIVITY: When you’re at home or in a quiet place take seven grapes and put them on a plate in front of you. Read a section or the full passage about the ‘true vine’ (John 15:1). Prayerfully choose seven people, issues, or countries to pray for over the coming week – one for each day. As you write them down, eat a grape and take a moment to pray.
that over the coming week you will remain in the vine, in God’s love, and that you will ‘bear much fruit’ wherever you go – whatever you do.
QUESTION: Did you make any New Year resolutions or does the 1st January feel like a long time ago? Today, Iran celebrates the Persian New Year. Norouz – a compound word that means “new day” – begins on 20 March and marks the dawn of spring. Perhaps you could use it as a second opportunity to think about your hopes and dreams for the rest of the year?
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Each year, SAT-7 marks the 13-day Persian New Year festival Norouz with special programmes that celebrate the new life that is available in Christ.
The Church in Iran has much to celebrate despite ongoing restrictions and persecution. According to Operation World, Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical population in the world! Every day, two or three people from Iran tell SAT-7 that they have given their heart to Christ after watching a programme on our Farsi channel.
Norouz is a time when families come together to celebrate new beginnings and hopes for the future. They traditionally decorate a table or carpet with seven dishes (“haft sin”) each beginning with the Persian letter S, symbolising rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.
for SAT-7’s special Norouz programmes, that as viewers celebrate the fresh start of a new year, they will also consider the new life offered by Christ. Praise God for the growth of the Church in Iran and pray that He will give believers there the strength to endure the pressure and persecution they face.
Find out more about Iran this Friday as it will be our country focus for this week’s reflections.
QUESTION: How do we prepare our children to live lives to the full? In a world dominated by media of all sorts of quality and motivation who can we trust?
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
In a moving letter to Rita Elmounayer, Executive Director for SAT-7’s Arabic channels and presenter of many programmes on SAT-7 KIDS, a Syrian father describes what SAT-7 KIDS means to his son, Andrew.
“As [our son] Andrew was growing up, we found that most of the TV channels for children aired programmes which actually harmed the children watching them, including Andrew, who was very disturbed by them. So we started deleting the channels one by one, until only SAT-7 KIDS was left, the channel that not only is safe but also spreads faith.”
“Andrew is a faithful daily viewer. For him, ‘Mama Rita’ is the special mother and teacher. On this Mother’s Day (21st March in most Middle East countries), I wanted to express my gratitude to the way SAT-7 is ministering to the people of the Arab world. God gave you the privilege to be a mother for a whole generation. Happy Mother’s Day!”
for all mothers who give so much of themselves in nurturing the next generation – that they would “trust in the Lord”. And for all children – that they would be protected and “enjoy safe pasture”, as they grow and learn.
REFLECT: Have you ever lost your voice? Have you ever called after someone but they are too far away to hear? These are, perhaps, trivial examples in comparison to what it feels like to be voiceless – at home, work or the community where you live. Not being heard in the big things in life, the things that matter, hurts.
Take five or ten minutes to THANK God for the areas in your life where you have a voice. THINK about how you are using your voice to speak words of hope and healing. PRAY today for men like Miltan who have put their hope in Jesus, have overcome addictions, and now use their voices to bring hope and healing to others.
Today we are praying for God to transform the lives of those who trust in Him in the midst of their suffering.
QUESTION: What personal situations have you known where you had to keep turning to the Lord for wisdom and guidance? Are there any areas of life where you currently feel at the limit of your strength and ability? Perhaps you can think of an example of a specific answered prayer through which God has demonstrated His faithful care for you and how this made you feel.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
The modern history of the Middle East is one plagued by conflict and war. To those of us in the West, it can seem as though one country after another has succumbed to civil war, border disputes and other military conflict. SAT-7 was contacted by an Iranian war veteran. Reza* fought in the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 to 1988. As a result of his experiences, Reza suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. His suffering affected all aspects of his life, including his marriage. For years he could not sleep at night. Then he met Christ and his life was transformed as he entered into a personal relationship with his Saviour.
Reza told SAT-7, “Since I came to Christ, our marital relationship has been improving and I have more peace. I would like to ask you to pray for the insomnia that I have been suffering for many years. I thank God that He has the solution to my problems.”
*name changed to protect identity
Give thanks for the transformation in Reza’s life and pray that Christ’s peace will continue to bring healing. Pray for other Christians in the Middle East who are suffering physically and mentally because of war and conflict. Pray that more people in this troubled region would bring their problems to God and experience transformed lives as they put their trust in Christ as Saviour.
Today we are focusing our thoughts and prayers on Iran:
Population: 82.8 million; 99.4% Muslim; 0.3% Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish; 0.3% other; literacy 91.2% men; 82.5% women
Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Christians in Iran have faced severe restrictions. With only a few state-approved churches that serve Iran’s minority communities, ethnic Iranians must live as isolated believers, attend house churches that are considered illegal, or migrate abroad.
But despite risks of imprisonment, torture and exorbitant fines, the Iranian Church has mushroomed from a few hundred believers in 1979 to 360,000 at the most conservative estimate.
SAT-7 PARS, SAT-7’s Farsi-language channel for the Persian world is staffed by Iranian believers outside their homeland who passionately share God’s love with a spiritually thirsty audience. Talk shows offer practical and pastoral guidance, documentaries and Bible training inform and equip leaders, and lively children’s and youth shows share God’s love with the younger generation.
Praise God for the faithful, growing Church in Iran. Pray for SAT-7’s small but dedicated teams in the UK and Cyprus and for many associate ministries that cooperate with us in producing life-changing television.
QUESTION: Can you remember the first time you visited another country (or even a very different area of your own)? How did it feel? Did you have to ask directions or help at any time? Was it easy to trust a stranger?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Nouh is a young refugee boy from Iraq, who now lives with his family in Lebanon. Like so many, he has known strangers who bring only death and destruction, when so-called Islamic State (IS) overran his town.
But when Nouh’s family fled to Lebanon, they were welcomed and supported by a local church. Here Nouh met people he could trust and who would guide him on the right path.
Although his family were of Christian heritage, they didn’t know Jesus. But at the church that welcomed them, “We got introduced to many people who love Jesus Christ,” Nouh said. Then at a Christian holiday camp, Nouh came to trust in Christ for himself.
In this new country, Nouh had found friends and a Saviour. He told his story to AS News, a SAT-7 KIDS’ news show. “I used to be scared of Daesh (IS),” he said, “but Jesus filled my heart … with joy and peace … I am very happy that I came to Lebanon and learned about Jesus.”
for Nouh and his family to grow strong in their Christian faith. Ask God to protect child refugees and that they will know who they can trust.