Iraq (SAT7/MNN) — Think about this for just a second: Iraq has been in armed conflict since 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, seized Khuzestan (a border province in Iran), and declared it a new province of Iraq.
At the time, Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein was seen as “the defender of the Arab world” against Iran. Not long after that, evidence came to light of chemical warfare in an 8-year war that ended in a stalemate. The bitterness between the Sunni and Shia wasn’t over, and tensions threatened to flare between Iraq and Kuwait. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the Gulf War came into reality.
Today, it’s ISIS and the rapid expansion of the so-called Caliphate across Syria and Iraq. Their advance has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in the form of refugees.
The time span of war engulfed more than one generation. In fact, it’s distressing to realize that there are adults who have never known anything but war in their lifetimes.
Looking back, Martin says, “We grew up in war. There is no other reality for people under 35. It has become the norm for how people live.” Martin and his siblings used to escape the darkness surrounding them by watching SAT-7 programs.
Early episodes of the Lebanese show “Asanabel” transported their minds to a different place. “We fell in love with the characters,” Martin says. “Rita [the presenter] once replied to my letter. I cannot express the joy I felt.” After all these years, he still holds onto the card that Rita mailed him.
In time, it became too dangerous for Martin to continue living in Iraq. In 2006, he left and sought safety in the United States. At 15 years old, he was lonely and far from family. Watching familiar SAT-7 episodes again gave him solace.
18 months ago, Martin requested episodes of “Asanabel” to be sent to him. He says, “Whenever I get homesick, I just pull those out. I don’t think SAT-7 could have known they would impact so many kids in rural northern Iraq. A 10-minute skit on ‘Asanabel’ will really bless someone’s life 10 or 15 years down the line. I’ve lived it.”
Support for this ministry is investment into the lives of another war generation who are part of the body of Christ. Realizing that it could be introducing one child to Christ who could become a church leader makes the prayer and financial support even more potent. Martin shared a final thought to those considering helping the SAT-7 family: “You are not just supporting a television station. To know there is someone thousands of miles away caring for you is so powerful.”