“We are with you in this.” This is the message that all SAT-7’s channels are sharing with their 25 million viewers as they face the pressures of income loss, health risks and life under lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Existing and many new shows and a wealth of online content are tackling the issues raised by the pandemic to support viewers’ mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Through its programmes for young and old, SAT-7 has become a one-stop shop for families looking for practical support and who miss the benefits of worship and fellowship in their churches.
You Are Not Alone is one of many new shows. Produced in Lebanon, it offers spiritual encouragement and solidarity to viewers experiencing loneliness, anxiety and grief. Broadcasting three times a week, You Are Not Alone shares uplifting stories of hope and “helpers”, mental health advice and a devotion to help viewers fix their eyes on Jesus. As a live, interactive programme, it also offers viewers an opportunity to pray.
New, short awareness and prevention programmes, including Expert Advice and health programme Dr Bee are supplementing the network’s Arabic-language education stream, SAT-7 ACADEMY. These shorts are shared on social media as well as on SAT-7 ARABIC. Viewers are encouraged to pass them on to friends.
SAT-7 ACADEMY even has its own female equivalent of Joe Wicks. Fitness Craze host and PE teacher Magdoline Nader shows how to work out at home using everyday items as fitness props.
Children who could find the current situation frightening are being reassured by SAT-7’s many children’s shows that offer friendship, faith and the encouragement to be role models at home.
Josiane, a young viewer of Cairo-produced Chato, said, “I am using this time of lockdown to play with my sister and get closer to her.
This time is also helping us get closer to Jesus. We pray more now and read the Bible. I encourage my friends to pray with me.”
Marianne Daou and Essam Nagy, two of SAT-7 KIDS’ most popular presenters from long-running past shows, have also returned to film special programmes. With friendly conversation, games, songs, creative ideas and Bible stories, programmes like these help young viewers to feel part of the SAT-7 “family” and keep their faith strong during the lockdown.
A 16-year-old Afghan viewer of Hashtag, the Persian language young teens show on SAT-7 PARS said the show “gives hope to teenagers, even more so now that people are in their homes for so many hours. I have learnt a lot through the Bible stories and have come to the conclusion that God is with us any time and place”.
Learning at home
As they carry on school work at home, Arabic speaking children can also benefit from SAT-7 ACADEMY’s My School programmes. These cover core subjects in the primary curriculum and are supplemented by live tutorials from the teachers on Facebook.
Mums and Dads aren’t on their own either. Help for them is on hand from shows like popular parenting programme The Coach and Follow Up host Dr Nada Mouawad, who gives support for children who are struggling with their learning.
Talk shows are also tackling a sad side effect of quarantine in most countries: a spike in domestic violence and marital tensions. In SAT-7 TŰRK women’s show Homemade, Meltem Aslan, a specialist in family law, told host Semsa Bakir, “We are spending more time together than ever during a very difficult time.” She urged viewers not to think that lashing out at a partner or children will bring back a lost job, salary or health and advised women on practical steps they can take if a situation becomes abusive.
In Lebanese relationships show From Heart to Heart, the show’s guest, counsellor Jessy Tohme spoke of the pandemic as a “storm that exposes the foundations of relationships”.
“People are losing control,” she said, but, freed from other time pressures, “now is the time to strengthen your marriage, get to know your partner better, and address problems that were ignored.” As for their children, Tohme said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make memories with our children.”
Pastoral relevance and sensitivity are also hallmarks of SAT-7’s church broadcasts and biblical teaching shows. High quality programmes recorded before the pandemic continue to air as usual on SAT-7 PARS, SAT-7 TÜRK and SAT-7 ARABIC. However, a number of live teaching and worship services express solidarity with viewers as they too are broadcast from lockdown situations.
The presenters of SAT-7 PARS shows Question Mark, Principles of Faith and Our Neighbourhood are all currently filming from home as they are unable to travel to SAT-7’s London studio. On SAT-7 TÜRK, Answers of Hope is a new series that presenter Gökhan Talas records from home in Skype conversations with Christian leaders across Turkey.
Even church services from Beirut’s 1,300-strong Resurrection Church and from Cairo’s mega-Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church (KDEC) congregation are looking different! Under government regulations, Resurrection Church broadcasts from locations in or near the leaders’ homes and KDEC airs from a church with only the leaders present and segments filmed at home.
It’s hoped that what viewers may miss in the excitement of joining worship with a thousand others they will gain in spending more intimate times with trusted leaders as they speak from their own experience of trusting God in remarkable times.
JOIN US FOR NEWS AND PRAYER LIVE
Reserve your place at our second News and Prayer Live “Zoom at Noon” call on Wednesday 20 May. We’ll be chatting to Hello Marianne presenter Marianne Daou, hearing news from the Middle East and praying for the SAT-7 network and viewers.