An Evangelical conference in Kuwait, attended by up to 1400 a day and televised on SAT-7, has highlighted the committed Christian presence in the Gulf region.
Between 1,200 and 1,400 people attended the three sessions on the person of Christ and what He offers us, and an extra session was added to answer attendees’ questions. All were held and filmed in the grounds of the National Evangelical Church in Kuwait at the invitation of six local churches.
“The organisers were keen to show there is a Christian presence in the Gulf states and to show an example of church life there,” a SAT-7 co-ordinator for the Gulf said.
Even higher numbers than expected meant that an additional standing area with a large-screen transmission had to be added to the packed seated area.
The conference, featuring Egypt-based Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) speaker Maher Samuel, was the first to be transmitted live from the Gulf region by SAT-7.
“In all my eight years of work, this was an amazing experience,” said one member of SAT-7’s three-person television crew.
If numbers are anything to go by, streaming the meetings as they happened – via SAT-7’s satellite broadcasts and on digital platforms – exceeded expectations in raising awareness of Kuwait’s largely expatriate Christian community.
On Facebook alone, views of the first session reached 22,000. This was some four times more than the Facebook views of another popular live weekly programme on SAT-7’s Arabic channel. On YouTube, too, the broadcasts quadrupled the views of other live programmes that day.
The National Evangelical Church in Kuwait itself has been based in the state for around 100 years and its leader, Pastor Ammanuel Ghareeb, is one of the country’s 100 to 200 national believers.
“Pastor Ghareeb is accepted and can have his face on screen whereas most local believers cannot,” explained the SAT-7 Gulf co-ordinator.
Kuwait hosts around 750,000 expatriate Christians, including many from Arabic-speaking countries. They are able to meet in several authorised church centres although evangelism of Kuwaitis is prohibited.
The six churches who arranged the event also financed most of the expenses for the SAT-7 broadcasts. The National Evangelical Church (NEC), the Lighthouse Church, Pentecostal Church of Kuwait, Christian Fellowship of Kuwait, St George Universal Syrian Orthodox Reesh Church and Rivers of Life Fellowship, are six congregations among many that represent different cultures and languages and meet each week on the NEC site.
“We are here, and we believe”
“Without upsetting local sensibilities, they want to say, ‘We are here, and we believe in Jesus’”, the co-ordinator commented.
“In every Gulf country I visit, I meet people who want to be involved and help SAT-7 make more programmes there,” he continued. Some are TV professionals who have worked for SAT-7 and are now working for commercial channels.
The Gulf states are a crossroads for people from all over the world. There, far from home and often working in very difficult situations, many nominal Christians come to a strong personal faith.
In one state the co-ordinator met a Christian leader who mentors Filippinos. He said, “Last time we met, they had 500 groups; now there are 640, with 50 to 60 believers in each group.”
- Give thanks for SAT-7’s connections with churches in Kuwait and other Gulf states, and praise God for the witness of Christians working there.
- Many manual and domestic workers are separated from their families for several years at a time. Pray for their physical, mental and spiritual health.
- Pray that SAT-7 will be able to realise its goals of making more broadcasts from various Gulf and Arab countries as well as those where the network has permanent teams on the ground.