Easter is public in a few corners of the Middle East, but for most SAT-7’s Easter schedule offers a vital way for them to journey in faith and understanding to the cross and empty tomb
Palm Sunday processions filled the streets to overflowing last weekend in some parts of the Middle East – from the old city of Jerusalem, where foreign pilgrims joined local believers, to Christian majority Qaraqosh and Ankawa, the Christian suburb of Erbil, both in northern Iraq. There thousands of Christians joined the traditional colourful procession to church. In Christian quarters of Beirut bells ring out each day from Maronite and Orthodox churches, calling believers to prayer during Lent.
But this is far from typical across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as a whole. In lands like Egypt, where there is a large Christian community, city churches open every day for prayer during Lent and many Orthodox believers fast from animal products for 55 days up to Easter. Yet, even here their witness is discreet and, to some, unwelcome. In many countries, believers are isolated. Converts from majority faith backgrounds face the most isolation and often keep their faith secret through fear of family rejection, potential loss of work and even arrest. Economic pressures are also making life a struggle for people of all backgrounds across much of the region.
In step at Easter
This Easter, however, a feast of special SAT-7 programmes will seek to bring them the hope and joy of Christ. A wide mix of Easter broadcasts will walk in step with MENA believers as they journey to the cross and empty tomb. Their aim is to deepen viewers’ walk with God and understanding of all that Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection mean for us. Programmes are scheduled daily during Holy Week leading up to the Western Easter (9 April), celebrated in some MENA lands, and Eastern Easter one week later, celebrated in others.
Our regular live talk and magazine programmes on SAT-7 TÜRK, ARABIC, KIDS and PARS all have an Easter focus. Live worship services will be aired for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day. These will include worship from Kasr el Dobara Evangelical Church (KDEC) in Cairo, Resurrection Church Beirut, a united service from the Evangelical Church in Egypt, and a communion service of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The UK SAT-7 PARS studio will host a live Easter day devotional programme for Persian viewers.
Other highlights include specially recorded daily devotional programmes by a number of contributors that enable viewers to take time each day to reflect during their journey through Holy Week. My Land is a new drama for Easter filmed by our Cairo team. Live concerts by much-loved Egyptian worship leader and musician Maher Fayez, by the Ava Makary Choir, live music and drama with Egypt’s Good News worship team and Al Hayat drama group, and an Easter play are further highlights for Arabic speaking viewers.
In Easter-focused series, like The Power of God, small groups of believers explore different aspects of the Cross and its meaning for us today. In Jesus Before and After on the PARS channel, young people share how they came to Christ and how their faith has grown through an understanding of the cross and resurrection.
SAT-7 KIDS has an Easter schedule that includes compelling animated programmes, from the popular Story Keeper series to the story of a young pickpocket who roams the streets of first century Jerusalem causing mayhem until he hears about events happening at Golgotha and goes to investigate.
As we follow the events of Easter we are confronted with intensifying darkness leading to the cross, then sudden, all-transforming light as we learn the truth that Jesus has taken sin on himself and conquered death. SAT-7 ARABIC programme You Are Not Alone will reflect this well on the Western and Eastern Good Fridays.
These two episodes are being filmed in Lebanon’s largest prison, the first in a men’s wing and the second a women’s wing. Inmates of Roumieh prison have agreed to share their own long and troubled journeys from deep darkness to marvellous light as they have found new life in Christ. Their stories will offer a powerful modern-day testimony to viewers of God’s eagerness to forgive, and the message that no barrier, situation, or past behaviour is an obstacle to experiencing God’s resurrection power and His offer of new life today.