Government restrictions continued to tighten in Afghanistan last year, making life even harder for everyone, especially Afghan women and girls. In November, Taliban authorities closed parks and universities to women and even barred female aid workers from the essential work they do. Meanwhile, SAT-7 has worked hard to increase its programming for its many devoted Afghan viewers, inside and outside the country.
“We strongly believe that the church in Afghanistan will grow, and we see similarities between what is happening in Afghanistan today with what happened in Iran 40 years ago,” said SAT-7 PARS Executive Director Panayiotis Keenan. “We want to further support Afghan viewers with more programmes and resources in their heart language.”
While many Afghans understand Farsi, the Iranian form of Persian used in most SAT-7 PARS programmes, Dari, the Afghan version, is the first language of 78 per cent of the population. From this January, SAT-7 has added a new programme, Sweet Truth, to its Dari programming. This follows close on the heels of a live weekly programme, Church4Afghanistan, launched in November on social media.
Sweet Truth joins a block of Dari programming on Friday afternoons in order to catch viewers who already watch SAT-7 PARS’ two other Afghan shows. Church4Afghanistan, meanwhile, takes advantage of the unrestricted availability of Facebook and Instagram in the country and the interactivity this enables. It is hosted by Dari speaker Pastor Noorullah Noor, and female presenter Bilquis Joobin, who is also fluent in Pashto – spoken by some 35 per cent of Afghans.
The first series of Sweet Truth has been produced by partner ministries Operation Mobilisation and the Afghan Hope Church, a network of Afghan diaspora believers. Through the generosity of SAT-7 donors like yourself, we have committed to help them upgrade their equipment to achieve higher production standards as they work on developing a second series.
Producer Mike Cheon says, “Sweet Truth delivers Afghan house church worship to Afghans. Despite the political chaos in Afghanistan, the Afghan diaspora church is flourishing everywhere, even as Afghans make their journeys to find refuge.”
The half-hour programme packs a lot in: worship songs, encouraging messages, a Psalm, biblical teaching, a children’s corner, and prayer requests that invite two-way communication with viewers. Producer Cheon is also the show’s worship singer and is joined by Afghan presenters Bilal and Omid.
This expansion of Afghan programming is being welcomed with open arms by viewers like Elmira. “I am a believer in Afghanistan and I came to faith through my sister,” she told us. “For a long time, I have been searching online for information about Christ and I would like to know more and more about Him. Please tell me about different ways to pray, because I am from a very religious family and there are no churches here.”
This article is slightly adapted from Insight, SAT-7’s supporter magazine. Read the full magazine and sign up to receive it twice yearly here.