International (MNN) — As more Muslims tire of hearing how extremists use their religion to justify violence, Muslim families are tuning in to television stations that bring them closer to a saving-knowledge of Christ.
The age-old divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims continues to cause strife in the Middle East and Northern Africa, but the rhetoric of hatred is being supplanted in many homes by SAT-7 Christian satellite stations.
“It’s surprising just how much damage the Muslim world has done to itself due to this schism between Sunni and Shiites,” says SAT-7’s Terence Ascott. “It raises serious questions. People were really losing trust in organized religion.”
In a 2011 survey, completed before the fall of Mosul and the most deadly attacks by ISIS, 32% of Iraqis had already lost faith in Islam, says Ascott.
“It’s quite a huge problem for Islam in general–this conflict that is going on–because it has turned people away from Islam,” Ascott says. “In the wake of that, comes Christian broadcasting with a message of peace, reconciliation, love; and we’re presenting a God who makes sense to people who turn their back on violence being done in the name of God by one faction of Islam to another.”
The broadcasting channels produced by SAT-7 go out to the areas served mainly by Islamic-friendly stations. Only God knows how Christian satellite TV affects the viewers who are growing weary of the constant battles by different Muslim groups.
“There is this battle of the airwaves since the Arab uprising in 2011,” Ascott says. “The battle for hearts and minds is going on using satellite television services. It is quite amazing how aggressive the different stations are and this battle of the airwaves is reflected in the growth in numbers of channels.”
The number of Christian channels has grown in the past five years, from one to about nine. Ascott says the group wanted to launch children’s show that they could watch after school; but with programs dispersed over six time zones, it was impractical to try and time them. Instead, SAT-7 launched a Christian children’s channel.
The Christian channels face security issues for which prayer is needed.
“We have a large studio in Lebanon just 20 minutes away from the headquarters of an internationally-branded terrorist organization,” says Ascott. “There is a lot of instability in Lebanon, and we have just recently had a run-in with the censorship police in Egypt.”
That run-in came to a good conclusion, but throughout their broadcast area, security is an issue.