Birthday celebration brings tears of joy for SAT-7 viewer
A young Tunisian woman, whose hard-line religious family has never marked her birthday, cried with joy when her 21st was celebrated live on a popular SAT-7 programme. “I cried for a long time,” she said, “because I finally found someone who appreciates me as a human being.”
Samah* said she was “delighted” when the landmark occasion on 1 May was celebrated on one of SAT-7’s flagship Arabic language children’s programmes, Why is That?. Presenter Essam Nagy and the crew sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the young woman, who is a big fan of the long-running children’s show.
She has to watch it in secret on YouTube because her mother is hostile towards her watching a Christian programme.
Some religious families in the Middle East and North Africa do not mark birthdays because they consider this a secular practice, although Samah said her family has previously celebrated her brother’s. She said that she feels worth “less than other girls”.
Asking questions about Jesus
Samah has lots of questions about the Christian faith, which she asks SAT-7 via the show’s Facebook, and also requests prayer for herself and her mother.
Although Why is That? is aimed at 6-12 year olds, it attracts older viewers as well, many of whom have grown up with the programme. The show encourages people to phone or send in whatever questions they have about all manner of subjects.
Presenter Essam said: “It is not only Samah, but many other grown-ups from Sudan, Gaza, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are asking us questions about Jesus.
“Interacting with such questions needs a great deal of wisdom, and after answering them we pray for the caller on air so that the Holy Spirit will guard them and keep the Word in their hearts.”
Building personal relationships with viewers is at the heart of SAT-7’s ministry. We do that through various means such as celebrating birthdays, answering questions and sending gifts (Bibles, Christian books, calendars, T-shirts etc.) to those who contact our programmes.
“I felt Jesus sent me a message”
Nesreen* from Syria, who watches another SAT-7 children’s programme Bedtime Stories and communicates with presenter Rita Elmounayer via email, said:
“Hi Rita, I was delighted when I received your gifts! I liked them very much and I felt Jesus sent me a message through these gifts. I believe that Jesus loves me so much.
“Rita, when I watch you on TV, I say to my family, ‘This is Rita. I know her and I chat with her via email and she sends me stories’.
“I pray to the Lord to give His peace to everyone who is suffering and also I pray for my family because we are suffering like many people in this world. Rita, please remember me and my family in your prayers.”
*names changed, top image for illustrative purposes.