Storytelling is at the heart of a special SAT-7 series filmed in Jordan for this Christmas. In Christmas Stories, leaders from various churches in Jordan and Iraq tell real-life stories that demonstrate how their churches are sharing the message and values of Christ among needy communities.
One of the simplest and most striking comes from St George Greek Melkite Catholic Church in Fuheis, Jordan. Father Boulos Haddad, the priest here, leads the camera to the church’s Christmas tree.
Instead of using tinsel and glittering baubles, the church has “decorated” it with strips of coloured paper. Each one describes the needs of a refugee family: flour and milk, oil and herbs, and many other basic necessities.
Every Sunday, members of the congregation go to the tree and pick a piece of paper. They buy these items and deliver them to Fr Haddad who then distributes these items to the refugees who need them.
“Churches in Jordan are helping refugees because they believe that Jesus was a refugee himself as a child,” explained Rafik George. Rafik is the producer of the programme’s 20 short episodes that will be aired during the western and eastern (7 January) Christmas season.
“The guests on the show wanted to share their stories for viewers around the Arab region and around the world to learn about Christians living in Jordan,” Rafik said. “They want to share their Christianity and their heritage.”
Teaching viewers through storytelling is compelling, he said: “The genre engages them far more than traditional forms of teaching.”
All the episodes of Christmas Stories were filmed over a four-day period at St George Church and at the Evangelical Nazarene Marka Church in Amman. The Marka church also has a substantial ministry to refugees from Iraq.
Dawlat Hijazeen, a teacher at the school, is the storyteller in one episode. For a separate broadcast the TV crew filmed a Christmas carol concert organised by the church in which around 50 young Iraqi refugee children take part.
Rafik explained why his Egyptian SAT-7 crew wanted to film in Jordan. “It is important for SAT-7 to show the efforts of the churches across the Middle East and North Africa,” he said, “Viewers in different countries want to see SAT-7 in their country.”
Christmas Stories will take its place among a full schedule of Christmas programmes on all four SAT-7 channels – SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 KIDS (in Arabic), SAT-7 PARS (in Persian) and SAT-7 TÜRK – including a full range of Christmas concerts, films, documentaries and devotional programmes.