A major Christian broadcaster in the Middle East reports the closure of businesses and social gathering places is "opening the hearts" of millions across the region who are "stuck at home."
SAT-7 reaches more than 30 million people across the Middle East and North Africa through Christian satellite television programs and online services 24/7 in numerous languages. The broadcaster – which is seeing its viewership skyrocket – reports that with the coronavirus lockdown, multitudes are now "clamoring" for a spiritual and practical lifeline in the isolation of their homes through "living television" programs.
Revival in Christianity's birthplace?
Operating in the part of the world where the Bible originated – where Christianity is now a minority faith and the Islamic faith is practiced by virtually all – SAT-7 is reporting a resurgence in people who are gravitating to the one true God of the Bible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SAT-7 USA president Dr. Rex Rogers says his ministry is proliferating across the region as it portrays Christians as "living epistles" who speak to people where they are in their life journeys.
"There's an explosion of spiritual hunger across the Middle East and North Africa right now as people stuck at home seek real hope and real answers," Rogers shares in a press release. "Millions of people in countries like Iran, Iraq and Turkey are clamoring to see and hear in their own language what it's like to be a follower of Jesus in a time of crisis."
Reports from a couple of the most predominantly Islamic nations in the world indicate that Muslims are opening up to the gospel like never before.
"In coronavirus hotspot Turkey, where 99% of the population is non-Christian, more viewers have contacted the SAT-7 TÜRK channel daily in the past few weeks than any day in the previous five years since broadcasts began," the broadcast ministry reveals.
"In Iran, another virus hotspot, viewers' calls and messages to the live, Farsi-language 'Signal' show – beamed into millions of homes across the nation – jumped to seven times the usual number last month, as Iranians rattled by the pandemic turned to the show's hosts for reassurance and practical advice."
Through the tough times, Middle Eastern viewers are confident that God is with them – and changing the hearts of those around them.
"[God is watching over my family, even though] we don't even have any loose change," one Christian viewer assured the "Signal" audience. "We're living in faith, and we're praying for everyone else."
Adults are not the only ones in the region showing a new interest in the gospel message, as a spike of more than 500% in children streaming videos rooted in Bible passages is bringing a new hope and encouragement to youth in the region that has not been witnessed in recent history.
And even though many feel they are being left in the dark during the widespread self-quarantines, burgeoning numbers are being lifted up with the light of the Word.
"Coronavirus has locked people inside their homes, but it's opening hearts to God," Rogers observes. "Lockdown and social isolation do not stop our unique satellite and online Christian programs from reaching millions of adults and children where they live."
The 30 million viewers tuning into SAT-7's encouraging live Christian shows and recorded broadcasts get a holistic view of life that explores the spiritual, physical, social and emotional questions troubling both believers and unbelievers on a daily basis around the tumultuous area often dubbed the "Powder Keg."
With the interactive programming encouraging viewers to get involved in live shows, SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer – who was born in Lebanon and is headquartered in Cyprus – realizes how crucial it is for her ministry to relay the gospel message in a time of uncertainty and despair.
"When people have hope, they find the strength to carry on," El-Mounayer shares. "Our broadcasts and social media channels are needed more now than ever."
And the numbers show that Middle Easterners and North Africans are desperately looking for answers, with 160,000 watching "God, Fear, and the Coronavirus" and 425,000 viewing an online video presented by the host of SAT-7's "Family of Jesus" children's show, which was shared via the Internet thousands of times.
In addition, the ministry's education and social development channel, SAT-7 Academy, just doubled its social media following, as more and more people are looking beyond work, social life and false religions to find the real reason and purpose of life.