SAT-7 PARS producer-presenter Sally Momtazi gives us a glimpse into the channel’s first series on the Book of Revelation and shares some exciting developments in her live talk shows.
Sally Momtazi, a presenter of Persian language shows Insiders and Question Mark, is the epitome of a glass half-full person! Her first response when asked for news from the two series was this: “I think COVID-19 was good for us!”
After our interviewer had picked himself up off the floor, she explained. For the first time, the Persian language women’s show Insiders has been able to bring experts who live in Iran onto the show. As for Question Mark, Iranian church leaders who live in far-flung parts of the UK and overseas have been able to join her for the first time to answer viewers’ spiritual questions.
Sally explained that both developments have become possible through Skype and because guests and viewers have become used to interviews conducted via video call since the start of the pandemic. “It’s been really exciting for us,” Sally says.
All SAT-7 PARS programmes are currently made outside Iran. Live shows like Question Mark and Insiders are made in SAT-7’s London or Cyprus studios. Having experts on Insiders who actually live in Iran increases the credibility and relevance of their insights on social issues. So far guests have included a town planner who talked about making cities more suitable for women and mothers with young children, a social worker talking about fostering, and another social worker exploring disability issues in Iran.
Question Mark has a different aim. Its mission is to answer the hundreds of questions about the Christian faith that viewers send SAT-7 every week. Questions that would otherwise go unanswered in the restricted countries where most SAT-7 PARS’ viewers live, such as Iran and Afghanistan. Featuring more video calls on the show has massively widened the pool of church leaders who can answer them.
“Even our viewers are changing!” Sally enthused. “Their questions are changing from the very basic ones people used to ask. You can tell that they have knowledge about the subject, that they are reading and researching. They are asking really deep questions.” The questions can be challenging and experts have to be ready for anything, but they are all genuine questions, she said.
With that thought in mind, perhaps it’s not surprising that the new recorded series Sally has produced tackles the Book of Revelation, one of the most challenging books in the Bible. Seven Letters began broadcasting on Christmas Day. It shines a light on chapters two and three of Revelation where Christ speaks through an angel (Rev. 1:1) to the Christian communities in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea – all now in modern-day Turkey.
“The Book of Revelation has always fascinated me ever since I became a believer. I couldn’t understand a lot of it but I read it many times,” Sally explained.
A vivid dream some years ago gave a personal motivation for exploring it. In this she saw worshippers surrounding God’s throne as in Revelation 4. She wanted to go closer into God’s presence but “some energy” pushed her away. When she cried out to God as she dreamt, He told her, “You are saved, but you don’t know my Son well enough.”
Sally’s commitment to know Christ better and for others to do the same was part of her drive to make the ten-part series. “Unfortunately, the Book of Revelation has been completely ignored by Iranian and non-Iranian churches,” she explained. “Jesus never wrote a letter but he gave us these seven letters. It has a very big warning, about our love for God, our love for people around us. It’s a warning from Jesus to tell us to be ready for His return.”
Making the programme involved filming on location at the seven sites of those first-century churches in Turkey. Working as producer, presenter and manager of a five-person crew in Turkey was “very pressured” she recalled, but it was also “one of the best experiences I have ever had”.
Recording two episodes a day in different cities made for an exacting pace. “You had to be aware of the light, weather, everything, finish one episode and go to another city. The worst was Ephesus. It was hot and the next morning we were going to Pergamum. God gave me strength, there was a slight breeze that day and we were so happy!”
In its 30-minute episodes Seven Letters packs a lot in. It sketches the background to the letters, gives some of the history of each city, and brings the message of this opening part of Revelation to PARS viewers. Two biblical advisers join Sally in the series – Revd Feridoon Mokhof was part of the team on location and Bible teacher Revd Elcio Lodos was filmed later in the studio.
“I tried really hard to bring this message to viewers,” Sally reflected. “I hope people watch it and they wake up and think about it more.”
- Give thanks for the new guests on Insiders and Question Mark. Pray that this will increase audiences for both programmes.
- Ask that Seven Letters will deepen viewers’ relationship with Christ as they take its messages to heart.
TRAVEL WITH OUR VIEWERS
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