Turkey (MNN) — 1 million refugees and 7 million internally displaced people. That’s a human catastrophe. That’s what’s facing the citizens of Syria today. That’s utter hopelessness.
This is just one example of hopelessness in the Middle East and North Africa, which was the focus of an annual conference held by SAT-7. SAT-7’s Network conference invited TV producers, supporters, partner representatives, church leaders, and SAT-7 staff from across the region to talk about hope in an era of hopelessness. Is there Hope in Syria and other parts of the Middle East?
SAT-7 CEO Dr. Terry Ascott says, “The very significant turnout for this event–with people coming from as far away as the USA, Korea, and Singapore–shows just how high on people’s agendas the Middle East and its beleaguered Christian communities now are.”
What are the issues bringing hopelessness? The previously mentioned refugee crisis, but also those disenfranchised by the Arab Spring. “Hopes were very high when the Arab Spring began. But, if you go through each country you find they’ve been very disappointed. In Egypt you’ve had two revolutions, Libya you got rid of a dictator, but there’s huge problems. Then, you’ve go Yemen and Syria. There doesn’t appear to be an end to the conflict.”
While other countries have been poised for revolt, or revolution, Ascott says, “People are afraid to start another uprising because of the consequences they’ve seen in other countries.”
Ascott was able to talk about hopelessness with the record number of conferees. It was well received. He says one question resonated with them. “Why doesn’t our children’s channel (SAT-7 Kids) devote a couple of hours every day to simple schooling programs to help the over 1 million Syrian refugee children that are without children at the present time?”
This could be a pivotal time in the lives of these children. Ascott says, “Because if they grow up to be angry, to be frustrated, they’re going to be easy prey of extremist groups of all kinds to carry out acts of terrorism.”
SAT-7’s role is help deal with attitudes, hope, reconciliation and education. Ascott says the Gospel is an integral part of that. “The Christian Gospel may not change a situation, but it changes somebody’s attitude to the problems they face. And, that of course, is very fundamental. The Gospel is one of eternal hope, deep hope, and peace with God.”
How can refugees view this programming? You won’t believe Ascott’s answer. “Millions of refugees are not without satellite TV receivers. If there was one thing people brought with them when they left Syria, it was their TV and their satellite dish because they knew they had to stay in touch. They didn’t want to end up in an information vacuum.”
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