Escalating restrictions on women’s freedoms, a return to repressive rule, broken promises for girls’ education, a collapsed economy, and one of the worst humanitarian crises of today’s world have stripped people in Afghanistan of their hopes for the future. SAT-7 PARS is ramping up its efforts and making new connections to respond to these increasingly desperate needs.
“Truly the people of Afghanistan are being held in a cage; men, women, and children, all of whom have been deprived of freedom to think and live freely in different ways,” said Afghan Pastor Shoaib Ebadi on a recent episode of the program Secret of Life, aired on SAT-7 PARS and produced by ministry partner Pamir Ministries.
The situation for women in Afghanistan is deteriorating rapidly as new regulations force them to cover their faces, denying them their identity and autonomy and erasing them from the public sphere. The Taliban’s promises that girls would be allowed to return to school as of March have also been broken, with girls and women being further confined to the home.
Christians and other religious minorities also remain in danger. According to Elham*, a SAT-7 PARS viewer in Afghanistan who contacted the channel in April, “The Taliban started doing house-to-house searches, and they were even confiscating people’s smartphones.”
“The people are not allowed to be free and to leave the country, to think freely or to decide for themselves what they wish to believe,” Pastor Ebadi says in Dari on Secret of Life. But he also spoke hope into viewers’ lives. “Jesus Christ is the only One who can help us be freed from the cage in which we are held. Whatever the chains, whether sin, power, desire, or temptation, Jesus can rescue us.”
“While we are alive, we must encourage and help one another,” Pastor Ebadi says.
SAT-7 PARS is responding to the growing need for emotional and spiritual support in Afghanistan through regular live broadcasts of Secret of Life and the pre-recorded program Window of Light, also produced by Pamir Ministries. The channel has also produced two seasons of the Dari scripture teaching program Following Christ, which will be broadcast later this year.
The channel’s Viewer Support Team and other pre-recorded and live programs in Farsi, which Afghans also understand, are additional resources and sources of hope and encouragement for viewers. Farah, a woman in Afghanistan, recently said, “I came to know your channel via satellite television, and I was gradually drawn by your programs and the conversations they contained about prayer and love. I want to know more about Christianity.”
The team followed up with her through messages and calls, and Farah contacted the channel, saying, “Thank you for the time you set aside for me. I have decided to become a Christian and give my heart to Jesus. Please keep me in your prayers.”
Encouragingly, God has also provided new opportunities and contacts that will further develop the channel’s response to the needs of Afghans. Promising new connections with Dari-speakers in the United States have opened another door, as the channel makes plans to produce programs that will address the basics of the Christian faith. Given the title God, I Want to Know You, the program will be presented by Bilquis Zhobin, an Afghan Christian living in the US who will explore who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for humanity and introduce viewers to what salvation in Christ means.
SAT-7’s partnership with Pamir Ministries is also growing stronger than ever, with continuing broadcasts of Secret of Life and Window of Light on SAT-7 PARS, and new opportunities to share social media productions in Dari on the channel’s various social media pages. However, finding Dari-speaking presenters, creating Dari resources, and making strategic connections that will support SAT-7 PARS’ goals of meeting the needs of Afghan viewers remains a significant challenge.
Please pray that God will continue to provide the connections and resources SAT-7 PARS requires to respond better to Afghan viewers’ needs.
*Name has been changed.
** Image caption: “Afghan women voice concerns to coalition forces Image 4 of 4” by DVIDSHUB is licensed under CC BY 2.0