Special TV appearance for SAT-7 founder
In a special on-screen interview to mark SAT-7’s 20th anniversary year, founder and CEO Dr Terence Ascott encouraged viewers in the Arab world to test what they hear and be open to other perspectives.
Appearing on Forbidden, a talk show on SAT-7 ARABIC that tackles controversial and taboo topics, Dr Ascott talked about why SAT-7 exists, its growth over the last two decades and its relevance today.
In a relaxed and personal interview, Tunisian host Imed Dabbour also probed into Terence the man. In light-hearted moments, the British founder admitted his preference for Lebanese food over Egyptian cuisine (and indeed English!). And he also shared some of the more profound things he has learnt from working with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
“The power of diversity”
Stressing the importance of diversity and the part it plays in SAT-7’s ministry, Dr Ascott said: “The power of diversity is that we can learn. It brings people together to sharpen each other; to challenge each other’s ideas, thinking, attitudes and opinions. Sometimes we just like to huddle together with those who share our opinions – we don’t grow that way.”
Sometimes we just like to huddle together with those who share our opinions – we don’t grow that way.”
Dr Ascott encouraged viewers to explore other people’s perspectives: “The truth is your friend. But discovering what the truth is is another challenge. Do you know that something is true when you hear it? It might resonate with your conscience, with your belief system, but is it really true?”
Why does SAT-7 exist?
SAT-7 started broadcasting Christian TV programmes across the Arab world in 1996 – initially for just two hours a week. Over the last two decades, the ministry has grown into a network of five channels in multiple languages each broadcasting 24/7 – described by Dr Ascott as “unthinkable” at the beginning.
To make the Gospel visible
Asked to summarise SAT-7’s purpose, Dr Ascott said there were two fundamental reasons: “One is to make the Christian faith, the Gospel, available to anyone across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – half a billion people – including many who want to know what Christ taught and what Christ means.
“Satellite TV is a very good delivery method, especially for women, children, the illiterate, people stuck at home, people who don’t normally meet a Christian, who can never go to a church or ask anyone about the Christian faith.
To make the Church visible
“Our second reason to exist is to support, encourage and help the Church in its life, work and witness for Christ: to be salt and light, to make a positive contribution to and help change society for the better.”
Is SAT-7 still relevant?
Dabbour highlighted the grave problems facing the MENA region today – wars, emigration, poverty, radicalism, hate – and asked Dr Ascott if SAT-7, TV with a Christian message, is still relevant.
Arguing that it is more relevant today than it was 20 years ago, Dr Ascott said that while the Internet is censored, inaccessible or too expensive in many places, TV remains a very strategic way of sharing Christian truth.
He added: “Wars have displaced many Christians in the Middle East and with it has been displaced Christian witness and service from many places. Yet SAT-7 can still stream into people’s homes in these most difficult areas, bringing a message of peace and reconciliation; can address issues of trauma, can bring literacy and education for children who’ve been displaced from school.”
“A God who makes sense”
Dr Ascott said this comes at a time when violence and hatred are causing people to turn away from their traditional beliefs:
“There’s been a disappointment in religion, a disappointment in fellow Muslims for the inhumanity that has been shown by Middle Easterners to Middle Easterners, and this has had a profound spiritual and psychological impact. It’s made people search for meaning in life and for a God who makes more sense to them and their consciences.
“In this context, Christians can offer a God who brings reconciliation and makes sense. The God we worship brings reconciliation between God and man, and between man and man. This is powerful in a society that is falling apart with hate and with the desire for revenge, the struggle for power, the inhumanity we see where one side can callously kill the other because they are different. SAT-7 is a platform where the Church can share this unique message of love, of forgiveness, of reconciliation.”