Church leaders meet in Cyprus to study the impact of their work.

By December 9, 2003

Middle East (MNN)–One hundred and thirty Partners, Associates, staff and supporters met together in Cyprus, for NETWORK 2003: a 3-day event with the theme “TV & THE CHURCH – Encounters with television in the Middle East”.

The conference sought to address some of the key issues concerning the impact of television on contemporary Arab society and on the life, work and witness of the church.

SAT 7’s Glen Hartson says, “This year, in particular, we were centering around the strengthening of the church throughout the Middle East and north Africa. We had a number of indigenous leaders from the region that were talking about how God’s Word is now being proclaimed, in many cases, for the first time.”

Television was also examined as a tool for social change, and its effectiveness in impacting attitudes, opinions and behaviour was frankly discussed. Tossed into the mix, Hartson says the persecution of Christians is prevalent in some areas.

That’s what makes SAT-7’s work vital to the church. The team looked at ways in which the Partnership could be strengthened through a more imaginative collaboration between agencies and local churches. “Through the medium of satellite television,” Hartson explains, “words of encouragement and teaching can be broadcast without fear of persecution or censorship throughout the region to indigenous Christians that may not have the means, otherwise, to get the words of encouragement and teaching that is so desperately needed.”

SAT 7’s international board also called for greater investments in programing, but left SAT-7’s important analogue broadcasts operating at only 4 days per week, pending an upturn in general or specific funding to change this situation.

In the meantime, the programing on the 24-hr/7-day digital channel is to be expanded throughout 2004-2005. Farsi broadcasts are also to be extended (and will include regular slots for children’s programing) and support provided to a sister organisation developing Christian TV programing in and for Turkey.

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