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FORGOTTEN CHRISTIAN HISTORY ENCOURAGES BELIEVERS

April 2018

In the region where Jesus was born, Christian history is often overlooked. With engaging history programs, SAT-7 gives Middle Eastern believers the keys to their own heritage. Knowing the facts helps believers stand firm in their faith, confidently contributing to their societies, and respectfully countering misconceptions.

When the so-called Islamic State group seized swathes of territory in Iraq, believers around the world watched in horror as ancient Christian sites were vandalised and destroyed.

This shocking erasure of history rightly made the headlines. But in parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), centuries of Christian history are routinely undermined, missing from public understanding, and underemphasised in schools. As a result, many people in the MENA believe Christianity is a recent import from the West.

ANCIENT ROOTS OF FAITH
In fact, the faith was spread throughout much of the region by the early Church, and some groups still worshipping in the MENA are among the world’s oldest denominations.

Cities now associated with other traditions, including in Egypt and Iraq, were once centres of Christianity. Even in the centuries following the Arab conquests in the region, believers continued to make significant contributions in many areas of public life.

INSPIRING CONFIDENCE
Knowing these facts – and that they and their faith have a legitimate place in their own region – is vital for Christians in the MENA today, especially when they face opposition.

“Our viewers need to know that we have a strong, rich heritage. When we feel the true value of our history, this increases our confidence,” says SAT-7 Producer Nashwa Louis.

BRINGING BUILDINGS TO LIFE
Both SAT-7 ARABIC and SAT-7 TÜRK offer history programs with a variety of perspectives.

Several shows focus on the most visible public reminder of Christian history – church buildings. The SAT-7 ARABIC documentary Christians of the East takes viewers on an illuminating tour of Cairo’s churches, bringing their history to life and introducing the communities they serve.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TURKISH-SPEAKERS
In Turkey, where Christianity is often considered “un-Turkish”, many historical church buildings have been lost or are now used as museums, cultural centres, or mosques.

Greater Than a Temple on SAT-7 TÜRK explores the architecture of these churches, teaching theology while connecting a new generation of Christians to the ancient Church in Asia Minor. The Step by Step series of documentaries focuses on one city at a time, exploring sites and meeting Christians who live and worship there today.

Meanwhile, The Stones Cry Out takes viewers further back in time to discover the biblical history of modern-day Turkey. The documentary introduces significant biblical sites and tells the history of the early Church in Anatolia.

REMEMBERING COEXISTENCE
Over on SAT-7 ARABIC, House of Wisdom explores peaceful coexistence between different communities by examining the little-known contributions made by Christian scholars, scientists, administrators, and poets during the formative centuries of Arab cultures.

The program is named after a landmark academic institution and library created by the eighth-century Abbasid caliphate. At the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, in what is now Iraq, Christian scholars translated many vital texts into Arabic from Greek and other languages and engaged in interesting debates with their Muslim peers.

CHANGING ATTITUDES
SAT-7’s history programs may appeal to viewers from other backgrounds with interest in the subject. As well as encouraging believers, they can, therefore, help correct popular misconceptions and improve relations between different communities today.