For Young people
For Young people
Teenagers and young adults have a lot on their plate: friendships, hormones, peer pressure, first romances, schoolwork and exam stress – as well as eventually leaving home for the first time, emerging into the world of work, and planning for the future.
Young people in the Middle East and North Africa are navigating all these challenges too. But they also face the enormous additional pressures of growing up in a region burdened by war, conflict, rapidly-shifting politics, religious and ethnic division, and economic instability.
The Middle East is a young region – approximately 65% of the population is under the age of 30. Perhaps the biggest hindrance they face is youth unemployment, which has stayed at a constant and enormous rate of 25% for the last decade.
A lack of jobs, on top of everything else, has left many MENA young people with a sense of despondency and hopelessness for the future. A recent survey revealed that 55% of MENA young people say the region has moved in the wrong direction over the past decade. Furthermore, a worrying 62% of young people in North Africa and 72% in the Levant (Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine) believe their best days are behind them.
The MENA’s Christian young people have the additional challenge of living out their faith in a region where they are very much in the minority. Below, Rana Ghaly, a presenter on SAT-7 ARABIC, shares how she lives out her faith with friends from all backgrounds, with integrity, love and respect.
This week, take time to pray for young people you know, and young people in the Middle East – that amid the many challenges they face, they will find wise guidance, put their trust in God, and place their hearts and hopes in His hands. ∎
4:12 youth show
Religious faith has a bad image among Iran’s young people, as it is often imposed harshly and with tight restrictions. Many young people assume Christianity is the same, and have no idea that a relationship with God can be a positive, life-changing experience.
This is the reason behind 4:12 – a live weekly show for Persian-speaking young adults. “The main aim is to break this negative mindset,” producer Moe Pooladfar enthuses. “By having two presenters from this age group, the show aims to demonstrate that you can be young and be a believer, have fun and yet live in purity, socialise, study and work like others, but follow Christ.”
Topics targeted in the first season include friendship and issues of trust, dating and what the Bible has to say about it, decision-making, the right use of social media, and confidence and self-esteem.
SAT 6 April
“‘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). Pray that MENA young people will discover God, and trust in His good plan for their future.
SUN 7 April
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). Thank God for SAT-7’s youth programmes, which teach young people about His word.
MON 8 April
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). This is the verse which gave the 4:12 youth show it’s name! Pray that Christian young people in the MENA will learn to be this example to others.
TUE 9 April
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Pray that young believers would find other Christian friends, so that they can be encouraged and built up in their faith.
Wed 10 April
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:12). Thank God for Christian young people like Rana, who aren’t ashamed to talk about their faith with their friends. Pray that others will find this courage too.
Thur 11 April
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice” (Proverbs 27:9). Pray that MENA young people will find good friends, like Rana, who can give them support, godly guidance and “heartfelt advice”.
Fri 12 April
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Pray for MENA young people who are experiencing hopelessness, and “losing heart” in their situation. Pray that God will renew them and strengthen them.
Faith among friends
Rana is from Cairo, Egypt, and is a presenter and singer on SAT-7
ARABIC show Keep on Singing. Here she shares about how she lives out her faith amongst her non-Christian friends.
I grew up in a Christian family, and went to a Christian school. There were people of other faiths there, and it was a very loving and cosy environment. My best friend was from another faith and we enjoyed sharing our beliefs with each other as we grew up.
Then I left school, and went to a public university. Some Christians there naturally wanted to seek out other Christians and stick together, which is to be expected, as it’s beautiful to have people surrounding you of the same faith. However, it sometimes leads to missing out on exploring and sharing our lives with people from different faiths, even if they see life differently. At university, I met some amazing friends from other faiths: we became a very close group, sharing details of our lives together, even years after university.
At that time, I had just received my drivers’ licence, so we would enjoy car rides around Cairo and share our private struggles, questions and thoughts together. Everybody was sharing from their own faith-based perspective or life experience, and my friends always heard me out in love. Questions from “Why are we here on earth?” all the way to our daily passions were thoroughly and enjoyably discussed. When things got tough, my friend from another faith and I would ask God for His guidance and help through the struggle.
Our friendship was comfortable enough that, although everybody related to God differently, we agreed on the common ground that we want to love God and choose to serve Him out of love, not fear. Some of my friends don’t believe in God, but I am grateful that we can still discuss our thoughts freely, honestly and in love.
One Christmas a few years ago, there was a bombing at a church in Alexandria. A friend of mine from a national TV channel phoned and asked me if I would go live with my best friend, who is from a different faith. So we both went on live TV and shared how much we love and respect each other, and that those who do the bombings are not the norm. It’s like we both chose to cling on to each other, instead of being divided by what had happened.
I now present a show on SAT-7 called Keep on Singing. It’s about how, with God, we can “keep on singing” through every step of our lives, whether it’s tough or easy, when we can see God and when we can’t.
We’ve had lots of testimonies in response to the show – someone was about to commit suicide, another was about to walk away from her faith, but they heard God speak to them through the show and didn’t go through with it. Many of my friends – Christians and non-Christians – watch the show to encourage and support me. It’s fun to laugh about the mistakes I say on the live show! And I value their feedback and advice.
Even sharing my story now, it encourages me so much to see how God has been with me. He’s been there through it all. ∎