Middle East (SAT 7/MNN) – Fallujah, Iraq: it was the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS in January 2014, the first domino to fall as city after city came under the shadow of the Islamic State’s black flag.
By summer, ISIS’ leader had declared a Caliphate, and the inexorable march pressed forward.
Today, two years later, Fallujah is at the heart of a coalition effort to retake control of Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the nerve center for ISIS movement in the region. Government forces actually moved in on Tuesday, advancing, even as ISIS retreated behind a shield of families trapped in the city.
Extremists around with similar ideology have joined the so-called Caliphate: Boko Haram of Nigeria, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar of Pakistan, and dozens of other smaller jihadist groups that can carry out military operations across the Middle East and North Africa. ISIS has also declared provinces in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
News outlets have already been broadcasting concerns about potential attacks during the month of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, which begins June 6. ISIS is calling for a ‘month of conquest and jihad’ on Europe and America.
This is one focus in the world of Islam. There is another: SAT-7 marked two decades of ministry on May 31. From the first time they went on the air, to the telling of Miriam’s story that got worldwide attention, SAT-7 has always been focused on one thing: illuminating countries in the Middle East and North Africa with God’s love. In a brief video statement, Dr. Terry Ascott, CEO of SAT-7 observed, “20 years ago, SAT-7 began by answering a cry from the people in the Middle East: a cry for understanding. So few people in the Middle East knew anything about the Christian faith. They didn’t know, in some cases, there was such a thing as an Arabic-speaking Christian.”
In light of what’s been happening with ISIS, that has changed the tenor of the cry to ‘Please help us!’ The humanitarian crisis is unparalleled. “With over five million people as refugees today; with another eight million people internally displaced; with 50 million people directly impacted by war”, explains Ascott, “there’s a need for help.” There’s also a cry for a better future. A cry for hope resounding in the question: “Why is this happening? Why is a Shia Muslim killing a Sunni Muslim? Why is a Sunni Muslim killing a Sunni Muslim? Why are we destroying each other in the name of our common God?”
In answer to that piercing call, he says, “We are seeking to help people in this situation by bringing them programming about trauma; we’re bringing them schooling for their children who have been displaced from their schools; we’re bringing advice of how to live as a displaced person.” Today, the SAT-7 family has grown to include five round-the-clock channels (SAT-7, SAT-7 FARS, SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 TURK, and SAT-7 KIDS), broadcasting countless programs in three languages, Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish, seven days a week.
What difference does television programming make with a juggernaut loose? Ascott explains that it makes all the difference in the world. “There are so many that have turned their back on God as a consequence of the inhumanity being shown by one party to another in the Middle East today. This is the time when we can answer some of the questions, and we can bring that unique Christian message of love, of reconciliation, of forgiveness that is so specific to the Christian faith.”
Essentially, they’re providing an answer to the ‘WHY?!’ “We’re also seeking to give hope of a better tomorrow and sow the seeds of better citizenship, of the idea of co-existence, of accepting people who are different, and, of course, hope in Jesus Christ.” Pray that God continues to transform small seeds into large fruits as He has done for many through SAT-7. (Click here for ways you can come alongside SAT-7)