In this video to mark the 2023 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP), SAT-7’s Founder-President Dr Terence Ascott shares his reflections on how Christians in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are sharing the love of Christ in the face of hostility.
IDOP, held this year on both November 5 and 12, provides an occasion to remember the thousands of Christians throughout the world who experience persecution for their faith. Its theme for 2023 is “Struck Down but Not Destroyed”. This is a quote from the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (4:9), where he describes how through his sufferings as a Christian the life of Jesus is displayed in him.
Christians in the MENA are no strangers to this experience. Eighteen countries served by SAT-7 appear in the 2023 World Watch List of the 50 nations where believers are most severely persecuted; five are in the top ten. Christians may suffer intimidation and violence from family members and wider society; they often face restrictions on their freedom to practice and share their faith; and they may endure discrimination in work and education. In extreme cases they can even lose their lives for the sake of Christ.
And yet, as Dr Ascott testifies in his moving memoir Dare to Believe!, the churches of the MENA find in their oppression and sufferings an opportunity to exhibit the life of Jesus more vividly. The book contains many stories of death and martyrdom, to be sure, but it also describes many dynamic and courageous Christian communities that persist steadfastly in their life, work, and witness through the many obstacles that they face.
In this video, Dr Ascott encourages us to “dare to believe” for the future of the Church in the region: “We should dare to believe that God is working, and we need to be sensitive to the role that He would have us to play in this movement… It’s exciting to see what God is doing! We are reminded of the verse that says, ‘I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’”
SAT-7’s broadcasting on satellite television and social media supports persecuted believers and gives them a platform and a voice to make Christ known. Our programs build up their faith, deepen their understanding, and equip them for service in their challenging contexts. We also give a positive view of the Church to viewers from other backgrounds and help to correct false views of Christianity.
As Dr Ascott says, “Part of our job is to show the Church making an impact in society and making a contribution to society, as well as witnessing to its faith… [We] help those who would otherwise be misunderstood, or persecuted because they are misunderstood.”
Would you please pause and pray for the following right now?
- For Christians in the MENA, that they will remain faithful to Christ as they face persecution and suffering in His name, and that His life will be displayed in them
- For SAT-7, as we help to sustain the MENA churches in their discipleship and provide them with opportunities to tell their stories and share their faith
- That the example of bold and vibrant Christian communities in the region will inspire the worldwide Church in its service of God.