ISOLATED BELIEVERS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST FEEL SUPPORTED BY SAT-7
A recent SAT-7 viewer survey produced hundreds of encouraging viewer testimonies, demonstrating how SAT-7 is providing valuable support for isolated believers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Over 5,000 people responded to an online viewer survey*1, which was promoted on social media and on three of SAT-7’s five channels. Viewers rated SAT-7 highly on almost all criteria including image, sound, and content quality.*2 Although the sample was not fully representative of all SAT-7 viewers, the results provide valuable insight into SAT-7’s impact. In particular, the viewer testimonies are compelling evidence that SAT-7 is succeeding in its mission of making God’s love visible in the MENA.
CONNECTING ISOLATED BELIEVERS
Less than 3.5 percent of the MENA are Christians*3 and many believers are isolated, with limited access to Christian fellowship or resources in their own language. However, nearly a third of survey respondents said that SAT-7 had helped them feel connected to other believers.*4
“It’s encouraging to hear that SAT-7 viewers are reporting that they do feel less alone thanks to our channels,” shares Dr Terence Ascott, SAT-7’s Founder and CEO. “We want to bridge the gap by connecting isolated believers to relevant Christian content in their own language and the global church. We do this through our quality, locally made programming and dedicated Audience Relations teams.”
A SOURCE OF SUPPORT
One viewer from Turkey, where less than 0.2 percent of the population are Christian, shared: “Thanks to you, I don’t feel alone. I can’t really attend church, but your programs are great for my faith. They help me remain on the path of Jesus Christ and to find my way whenever I am lost.”
Moreover, 35 percent of viewer respondents reported that SAT-7 was a source of support for them during times of difficulty.*5 Over 45 percent of Egyptian viewers said they felt supported, which is especially significant considering the opposition Egyptian Christians have recently faced.
Even though many Christians in the MENA may be physically isolated from others, our aim is always to actively encourage and guide them through challenges. We want to give our viewers hope, hope in Jesus Christ, even in the midst of war, persecution, and isolation.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
SAT-7 is also playing an important role in breaking down common misconceptions about Christianity in the MENA. Over forty percent of viewers said that SAT-7 had helped them grow in their understanding of the Christian faith.*6
Many viewers who were not from a Christian background acknowledged that their perceptions about Christians changed after watching SAT-7 ARABIC. The channel gained popularity among non-Christians due to the simple explanations of Christian beliefs, variety and quality of the programs broadcasted, and – most importantly – because the channel treats viewers from all religious backgrounds with respect.*7
Almost one in four respondents watching SAT-7 PARS said that they made a decision to follow Jesus after watching the channel.*8 Most of these believers came from Iran or Afghanistan, where opportunities to hear the gospel are usually extremely limited.
“This is very encouraging, and shows that satellite television can speak directly into the lives of those in the MENA who are searching for hope – and many are responding!” says Dr Terence Ascott.
Overall, there seemed to have been significant changes in the way people felt and behaved towards others as a result of watching SAT-7, leading to an increased understanding of people from other religions and denominations.*9
“This is a great achievement in a region often marked by misunderstandings about Christianity,” explains Dr Terence Ascott.
One SAT-7 ARABIC viewer wrote: “SAT-7 had a special impact on me. It has contributed to my spiritual growth for at least the last six years. I have also learned to love and accept others, no matter how different they are.”
1. Please note: not all respondents were viewers, nor did all respondents answer every question. For this reason, the sample size varies between questions/channels.
2. Overall viewer satisfaction rating was over 80% across all channels.
3. World Christian Database 2015. Research excludes expats. MENA = 25 countries.
4. An average of 30.6% of respondents across channels identified with the statement “I felt more connected to other believers” (after watching SAT-7).
5. An average of 35.3% respondents agreed with the statement “I felt supported in times of difficulty” (after watching SAT-7).
6. An average of 44.3% respondents agreed with the statement “I grew in my understanding of the Christian faith.”
7. Non-Christian viewer comments suggested that their high rating of SAT-7 was due to the variety of dialects used, the lack of bias in our programming, our treatment of other religions, and the simple explanations of the Christian faith.
8. Out of 883 SAT-7 PARS respondents, 376 were viewers. 288 viewers answered the question about how SAT-7 PARS had impacted their life; 66 said they made a commitment to follow Jesus as a result of watching the channel.
9. A whole section of the survey was dedicated to assessing the impact of SAT-7 on viewers attitudes and behaviour. A high number of respondents reported positive changes in attitudes or behaviours. For example, over 20% of respondents agreed with the statements “I decided to help out more in my community” and “I understood people of other Christian traditions” after watching SAT-7.