“SAT-7 PARS has been impacting and changing people’s lives for 15 years,” says Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS. “It is also a platform for viewers to express themselves to the world, and a voice for the voiceless, for those who have been silenced and isolated. With the enthusiasm, dedication and determination of the team, I am positive that we will continue to make God’s love visible for many years to come.”
SAT-7 is privileged to have the opportunity to serve Christians who face the threat of persecution on a daily basis. Many of them are in daily contact with the channel to ask for prayer, support and counselling to help them deal with a variety of issues they face, and counsellors in the Audience Relations team are there for these believers.
SAT-7 PARS was launched in 2006 as the second channel in the SAT-7 family, broadcasting Christian programmes to support the growing Christian community in Iran and among the Persian-speaking diaspora. Although at the time it was known that the Iranian church was growing, it was difficult to know thew numbers, and yet many pastors and believers inside Iran were optimistic about the number of new Iranian believers in Jesus.
We now know through independent research dating back to summer 2020 that the number of Iranians who identify as Christians is at least a million. But it has not always been so. In the early days after the 1979 revolution all seemed lost for the small Persian-speaking Iranian church. These Muslim-background believers were few in number, by some estimates no more that 500 across the entire nation. While under the Shah’s government, Christians were able to openly practise their faith, their efforts in reaching others with the gospel had borne little fruit.
Persecution and growth
After the Iranian revolution in 1979 things changed as people became disillusioned with their new leaders and began to look elsewhere for answers. The Church began to grow, leading to the martyrdom of outstanding Christian leaders like Haik Hovsepian, Hossein Soodmand, and Mehdi Dibaj (the last two charged with apostasy because of their conversion). As Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
These courageous believers paved the way and helped to lift up the name of Jesus among Iranians. The Church grew and the need to support Persian-speaking Christians who were unable to freely meet became clear.
Initially, in September 2002, Iranian Christian Broadcasting (ICB) began broadcasting one hour per week on SAT-7’s Arabic channel. Over the next few years Persian programming grew to 18 hours.
More viewers than ever
In 2006 ICB became a part of SAT-7 as SAT-7 PARS and started to broadcast 24/7. Today its programmes reach more people than ever. They are aired via satellite and online via the SAT-7 PLUS streaming and download platform. In addition to Iran, SAT-7 PARS now has viewers in Tajikistan and a large audience in Afghanistan. There, its programmes and viewer support teams have become a precious lifeline of encouragement, teaching and guidance since the advance and return to power of the Taliban.
The mission of SAT-7 PARS remains to provide inspirational programmes for Persian-speaking peoples to faithfully and clearly present Christ in a way that is relevant to the cultural, religious and political climate of the region, and to provide the churches and Christians in the region an opportunity to grow in their faith and develop their leadership and ministry skills.
On SAT-7 PARS’ fifteenth anniversary, please pray:
- That the channel will continue to be God-led, seeking His purposes in everything the team set out to do.
- That SAT-7 PARS remains accessible to local Christians across the Persian world, sharing God’s love with millions of people daily.
- For His wisdom and peace as the Audience Relations team help viewers grapple with difficulties and encourage others in their walks with Jesus.