SAT-7: “What a testimony!”
Theo Volland reports from Cyprus:
P a p h o s / Sinsheim (tv). Rita El-Mounayer hesitated briefly before answering the question from the plenum: What does it mean for her as a woman from Lebanon to be the new leader (CEO) of the Christian television station SAT-7? Her answer - straight from the heart: "What a testimony! And again: "What a great testimony!" She wants to be a role model and testimony for half a billion people of the Arabic, Persian and Turkish speaking world, especially for the often disadvantaged women. She is proud of the exemplary way in which her organization SAT-7 has appointed a woman from the Middle East as its leader: "What a testimony!
Rita El-Mounayer (49) was already Program Director when she took over her new leadership role from Dr. Terence Ascott (71), who founded the station in 1995. With her as Director, SAT-7 is drawing a step closer to its true self-image - they see themselves as a television station "by Arab Christians for the Arab world". The vision is to encourage Christians, to teach them Bible content, and to disseminate factually correct information about faith in Jesus, churches and Christians in the Middle East, all in an area of the world teeming with false information and prejudice. A Lebanese Director from a Maronite background makes this vision reality. It was celebrated on Friday 29 March 2019 at the SAT-7 Network Conference in Paphos, Cyprus with 236 guests from 25 countries. Anglican, Maronite, Orthodox, Protestant and Evangelical spiritual leaders blessed and congratulated Rita El-Mounayer.
SAT-7 broadcasts Christian programs for the Middle East and North Africa on four channels in three languages:
Their programming ranges from faith-enhancing Bible programs to soap operas on how faith changes lives, music broadcasts, traditional and modern worship, as well as school television for refugee children. Of the 400 million people in the reception area, probably one in ten watched SAT-7 in 2018. Even the poorest, who otherwise have nothing, have satellite television. Dr. Terence Ascott, known as a statistician, is far more cautious with his numbers: "According to an independent report," he says, "up to 28 million people watched SAT-7 in 2018, all generations, many regularly." The biggest response came from the Arab Channel, with 21 million viewers, 5.2 million in Egypt alone. 2.4 million Algerians watched SAT-7 Arabic last year. For them the station is particularly important: Algeria has the fastest growing church in the entire Arab world, despite massive pressure on the Christians there, according to Dr. Ascott.
The number of viewers in Saudi Arabia is also astounding: an estimated 1.16 million! And this in a country that is considered to be completely closed to Christians - note that people openly said on the telephone that they watch Christian television! A similar survey in Iran did not yield any usable results, because, while everyone has it, the possession of a satellite dish is forbidden, so only a few on the phone admitted to using satellite TV at all. The children's channel is also a success story; in 2018, SAT-7 Kids had 2.5 million viewers in Egypt, 777,000 in Algeria, 337,000 in Saudi Arabia and so on. Through the school programs "SAT-7 Academy", children were able to improve their progress by 20 percent. The fun school lessons on television are produced for refugee children, but are also used by an astonishing number of adults.
Rita El-Mounayer joined SAT-7 immediately after it was founded in 1996, as a producer and presenter of the successful children's program "Bedtime Stories". She directed the children's channel SAT-7 Kids. From 2016 she was responsible for all programs and productions of the four channels in Arabic, Farsi and Turkish. "SAT-7 is unique - we reach so many people in the Middle East and North Africa who otherwise have no opportunity to hear about God's love," she explains. "It is an honor to lead SAT-7. I pray that God's Word will change more people than ever before and that we will inspire good developments in the Arab world". With a Master's degree in Communication and many years of experience in production and broadcasting she is well prepared for her new responsibilities. "My 23 years at SAT-7 have been a wonderful journey where I have met many people whose lives have been impacted by our programs," she says.
The new SAT-7 motto: “Impacting more lives than ever”
Dr. Terence Ascott warmly congratulated his successor and wished her God's blessing: "It has been exciting to see how Rita El-Mounayer has progressed from the beginning," he said, "how she wrote, produced and presented children's programs for SAT-7. She enjoys learning and reads a lot. Her passion, intelligence, hard work and social skills make her ready for the next step. She will be an extraordinary leader." At Rita El-Mounayer's festive inauguration, the diversity of churches and organizations supporting SAT-7 became apparent. The Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain, Archbishop Angaelos, paid tribute to Dr. Ascott's work and recalled how in 1993 he first presented his idea of Christian television for the Arab world to him: "Thank you, dear Terry, for your vision, your courage and your perseverance," said Archbishop Angaolos. It is important to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through all the media: "We are blessed with a truth to share".
The main speaker at the conference was Dr. Hikmat Kashouh, Senior Pastor of the Resurrection Church in Beirut (Lebanon) and Professor at the Baptist Seminary there. SAT-7 is important to encourage the suffering church in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Kashouh described the horrors faced by Christians in Syria and Iraq: "I meet children whose parents have been killed in front of their eyes". A young woman was raped and left naked in the street. A girl was forced to watch her family being abused and killed. If she had shown the slightest emotion, she too would have been murdered. "Christians like them are the salt of the earth," explained Dr. Kashouh. The people in his region, the Middle East, "have such a hunger for the good news of Jesus Christ." Youssef Soueif, Maronite Archbishop in Cyprus, likewise exhorted the audience: "Please pray for all churches in the Middle East!" The motto and goal of SAT-7 - "Impacting More Lives than Ever" - means "where Jesus shapes our lives, we can change many people" stated Archbishop Soueif.
SAT-7 has its International Headquarters in Nicosia, Cyprus, 237 employees at twelve locations and studios in Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and England. They broadcast their Christian and educational television to the Middle East and North Africa to "make the Gospel accessible to people and to support churches in their lives, ministries and witness to Christ.” In 2018, SAT-7 received 329,000 viewer responses, 40 percent more than in the previous year (as "response", they rate only correspondence, they had millions of Facebook likes).
As DMG we spiritually and financially support our Partner SAT-7.
We gladly accept and forward donations for this important media work in the Arab world. We are also looking for workers for SAT-7 (short- and long-term) who can be involved in the Middle East through the DMG: for production, filming, technology, editing, design, web design, social media, communication and administration - to give Arab Christians a voice in their homeland and change more lives than ever before. Please pray with us for the important work of this remarkable Partner Organization.
Project number: P84100 SAT-7