As the first case of the coronavirus was announced in Turkey, SAT-7 TÜRK’s programme World View spoke out about God’s peace to send hope into the lives of its viewers amidst the fear and panic caused by news and social media.
“Unfortunately, here in Istanbul there are rumours and exaggerations about the coronavirus,” shares Volkan Er, presenter of the Christian news programme World View. “Because of the virus we are seeing a consumption madness. In the news, we see empty shelves in markets as if we are running out of food, and this is making selfishness and greed apparent.”
Speaking into these circumstances, the presenters of World View balanced facts and information about the coronavirus and its impact on people with biblical hope and encouragement.
To inform SAT-7 TÜRK viewers about the coronavirus, a public service announcement was created, detailing the facts about the coronavirus, its symptoms, precautionary measures and travel advice. This was included in the episode of World View but is also being shared more widely across the channel’s other programmes.
“We are seeing that elderly citizens and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk,” says Volkan. “But of course, we will take the advice our doctors give us, wash our hands and use the cleaning material we are advised to use.”
“We must be sensible and calm,” he continues to reassure viewers. “We trust our Lord; we have a living God. He is going to lead us. We have the opportunity to be a light to others and emphasise Christ in this situation. But first of all, we must be sensible.”
“We must get our information from reliable sources,” cautioned co-host Senem Ekener. “Not only now under these circumstances, but when it comes to public health we must always act according to these rules. Unfortunately, due to its globalisation, we are aware that the risk of [the virus] spreading is very high, and we can presume that the number of cases in Turkey will increase, but we do not need to live as slaves to fear.”
“We must stand against this fear and panic in a courageous manner, because the Bible says this: ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and self-control’ (2 Tim 1:7)” added Volkan.
In a difference from other public service announcements, SAT-7 TÜRK concluded theirs with a prayer:
“Lord, we bring all the people who are impacted by this epidemic before you. We pray in your name that the people who have this virus will be healed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
On 11 March, the coronavirus was labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with cases across the world surpassing 100 000. According to WHO, there are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives. Many countries across the world are struggling to respond to this epidemic, confronted with a lack of capacity and resources. Restrictions and quarantines have become common.
While these facts and figures may instil fear, they provide an opportunity for Christians to be a voice of calm and hope, to act wisely and sensibly, and to trust God. Please pray that SAT-7 channels will be a voice of reassurance at this time, and that the programmes will encourage viewers to take necessary precautions without fear and panic.