Rita and Myriam’s stories reveal how God is working through tragedy to bring hope to the Middle East and North Africa through SAT-7.
It might be easy to think that Myriam’s childhood is unique, but like many children growing up in the Middle East and North Africa her childhood has been marked by war. Myriam’s story is representative of the struggles many children around the world face.
SAT-7’s newly appointed CEO (April 2019) Rita El-Mounayer faced similar struggles in her childhood, too.
Rita’s Story: Escaping Civil War
Growing up in Lebanon, Rita watched TV with her sister, Andrea. It was a way for the girls to escape and forget about the civil war (1975-1990) around them. Rita says, “Our television was black and white, hooked lots of time to the car battery as we had 2-3 hours of electricity daily, and the volume getting higher and higher, controlled by my Dad, to distract us from what is happening in the real world outside, the world of bombs, shelling and heartaches.” SAT-7’s programming today allows children of war to forget about the world around them for a moment and learn about God’s love.
Rita and Andrea’s mother passed away during their childhood, and their father, a member of the Christian militia, would watch over them at night while they slept. Rita says, “My Dad shaped my whole relationship with God. I saw him as my hero, protector and savior since my early years.”
As Rita grew up, she knew she wanted to help provide hope to children in the Middle East and North Africa. Rita earned a Master’s degree in Communication Practice from the University of Wales (UK) then began working professionally for a Middle Eastern Christian radio station creating a show for youth. In 1996, she joined the SAT-7 team to create children’s television programs.
In the early years of the SAT-7 Network, Rita helped develop SAT-7’s innovative children’s programming, which eventually resulted in a new channel called SAT-7 KIDS. She later directed all programming on SAT-7’s Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish language channels. Today, she is CEO and provides girls and women in the Middle East and North Africa a strong, Christian female role model.
Her vocation stems from unrest in Lebanon during her childhood and seeing a need for positive, hopeful messaging. Author Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s great hunger meet.” Rita’s passion for children and ministry has helped SAT-7 minister to children in the Middle East and North Africa.
Rita says that her motivation to work stems from wanting to reach children: “I supervise production in many locations and I make the final decisions regarding SAT-7’s programming. But my main passion, was and still is REACHING CHILDREN with a message of LOVE. This message that will one day change the face of hurt and despair, the face of the Middle East today, to a face of HOPE…And this can ONLY be achieved by investing in the lives of people when they are still young.”
Myriam’s Story: Forgiveness and a Homecoming
In December 2014 Essam Nagy (on air host “Mr. Know”) from the SAT-7 KIDS show Why Is That? traveled to northern Iraq and interviewed refugee children who had been relocated to find safety from ISIS. One of the children he met, Myriam, shared how she forgave ISIS for driving them from their home, and that men of ISIS would come to know God’s forgiveness and salvation in their own lives.
Iraq’s instability displaced 1.6 million people including 250,000 refugees. Myriam was one of that number living with uncertainty in a refugee camp far from home, school, and friends.
By April 2019, Myriam and her family were blessed to return to their home, and Essam joined the family for Easter. They were filled with joy that they had returned home.
Yet Myriam emphasized that what matters most is not where they live, not their beloved home, but the worship of God and His involvement in their lives.
Like Rita, Myriam’s home was marked by violence and destruction. In the Sequel of Hope, SAT-7’s new documentary, the audience sees imagery of churches in Iraq that have bullet holes in them and marble turned to dust. These images speak to how God kept Myriam and her family safe during their time of severe trial.
In spite of destruction and displacement, Myriam and her family has hope. They faithfully display God’s joy and love through dancing and singing. Even though not all refugees have returned to Qaraqosh, Iraq, this community models returning to God in thanks after tragedy.
Hope from War and Displacement
Through financial support from people like you, Myriam learned about the Gospel at a young age. Her faith sustains her.
In some ways, Myriam’s experiences parallel Rita’s, and SAT-7 being able to bless and encourage Myriam is an answer to Rita’s prayers. Rita’s childhood and unique calling allows her to use her gifts to help children like Myriam hear about the Gospel, learn more about biblical teaching and how to apply it to their lives, and come to understand encouragement and hope. These are just two stories from the Middle East and North Africa which proclaim God’s glory.
You can make a difference today by giving directly to SAT-7 to provide the Gospel to other children just like Myriam. One dollar provides programming to one person for one entire year.
To listen to more of Rita’s story, listen to our Unconventional Ministry Podcast episode five here.
To watch Myriam’s whole story, watch Sequel of Hope, which details how Myriam returns home with her family and how her faith has grown!