As multitudes of businesses and charities were shutting up shop, SAT-7 was preparing for take-off. As growing levels of discontent left a void of wisdom and love in the MENA, SAT-7’s channels stepped into the breach, becoming a haven for many people during the pandemic.
Nicoletta Michael, Development Manager at SAT-7’s International Office, explains our approach. Firstly, she says, “The channels’ response to the pandemic has been to prioritise live programmes”. Highly ambitious considering the reduction of our staff due to self-isolation and how much work goes in to producing live broadcasts. But there is something about live programming that goes further than a pre-recorded show. Live gives a sense of help being near, of hope being tangible. The audiences at home know that there are Christians at hand right now, dealing with concerns and offering help – even in direct response to viewer questions.
Secondly, whether pre-recorded or live, all channels shifted the focus of their content. Nicoletta shares the four areas of focus: “COVID-19 awareness and prevention information, education, physical and mental well-being for families and children, and spiritual support”. This deeply holistic approach seeks to help the whole person, not just one area of people’s lives.
PERSONAL TOUCH PUSHES NUMBERS UP
With millions of people stuck at home dealing with multiplying issues, SAT-7 has tailored more content to directly answer the questions of viewers. Broadcasting live from home has provided a unique way for presenters to connect with audiences. Nicoletta shares, “Presenters have been reaching out personally to their audiences through videos of encouraging messages recorded from their homes, which are being broadcast on the channels as well as on social media.”
This personable approach may be one of the reasons why audience engagements have climbed so high in recent months. SAT-7 ARABIC’s God, fear, and the Coronavirus was watched by 160,000 people online; SAT-7 PARS saw an increase of seven times more viewer responses after one live show; while SAT-7 TÜRK is experiencing its largest ever audience engagement numbers since it began broadcasting in 2015.
HEALTH, HEALTH, HEALTH
Confinement, while protecting physical health, has posed a threat to other kinds of health. SAT-7 channels and programmes have sought to bring relief and guidance on a range of issues. Spiritually, SAT-7 is helping Christians with the problems of isolation and discouragement.
Home worship broadcasts are lifting the heads of the downcast, theology programmes are feeding the spiritually hungry, and Q&A sessions are bringing seekers closer to God. Good hygiene habits like handwashing and social distancing are being emphasised across the board, while many programmes are also tackling the regionwide issue of bad mental health.
SCHOOLING AT HOME
Our education programmes have taken the coronavirus in their stride. Take My School, for example, which brings hope to the millions of children out of school in the Middle East and North Africa. This show has been especially in demand, with most schools closed across the region. These fun, high-quality 20-minute lessons in primary-level Arabic, Maths, Science, English and French, mean that children are learning through TV, not just being entertained (or distracted!).
A young Algerian boy got in touch with us to say, “I constantly watch the programme My School for the English language and have improved in reading …
We love you so much.”
- Thank God for huge increases in viewer engagement on social media. Pray for the SAT-7 staff who run our social media platforms, that they will be filled with wisdom and compassion as they interact with many people.
- Pray for Nicoletta Michael, Development Manager at SAT-7’s International Office. Ask God to guide her in her decision-making and fill her with strength for the task ahead.
- Pray for SAT-7’s worship and theology programmes, that they will continue to be a lifeline for isolated believers in the Middle East.
- Pray for all our viewers who have been directly impacted by COVID-19. Pray that they will be comforted and know God’s love for them. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Jesus speaking in Matthew 5:4 (NIV).