SAT-7’s mission is to feed the soul.
But this becomes even more challenging in an environment in which people desperately need food for the body.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are once again a center of crisis and despair, this time rooted in grain and food shortages, hunger and malnutrition, raging inflation and surging energy prices, and a significant potential for unrest in “bread riots” and more.
The primary reason for these crises is the war provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has triggered global economic instability and a growing food insecurity in the Middle East and North Africa.1
Much of this “disruption stems from the leading roles of Russia and Ukraine as exporters of wheat and other food staples. According to the U.N. Trade and Development Agency, the two countries account for 27 percent of wheat (and also barley) exports and 53 percent of sunflower oil and seeds worldwide. Russia is also a key global supplier of fertilizers and hydrocarbons.”2
Reductions in these commodities translate to food shortages, hunger, higher agricultural prices, and other negative ripple effects.
“Hundreds of millions of people all across Africa are facing the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation due to rising food and energy prices amid rapid inflation and increasing debt, leaving the most vulnerable consumers in a dire situation.”3
This comes in the wake of the pandemic, healthcare emergencies, and ongoing local conflicts in Syria and Yemen that have triggered massive displacement and emigration and a long list of human suffering.
“Arab countries get just over half of their wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine. For several countries the ratio is much higher—96 percent for Lebanon; 92 percent for Sudan; 80 percent for Egypt.”4
In Lebanon, there’s little hope of change anytime soon. Much of Lebanon’s grain storage capacity was destroyed in the Beirut blast of August 2020. Lebanon’s “meltdown has seen its currency lose at least 90 per cent of its value, three quarters of its citizens living below the poverty line, and food prices rising by 1,000 per cent.”5
“Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, (the vast majority of) which has come from Russia and Ukraine, and one of the largest importers of sunflower oil, 73 percent of which comes from Russia and Ukraine.”6
Since SAT-7 maintains large studios in both Beirut and Cairo, these food and currency issues directly affect SAT-7 staff members who produce programming for the SAT-7 ARABIC and SAT-7 KIDS channels. Türkiye’s inflation has soared to 79%, and since SAT-7 maintains a studio in Istanbul for the SAT-7 TURK channel, again, personnel are directly affected.
“The war also has sparked concern that much of the international aid upon which so many in the Arab world depend will be diverted to Ukraine.” An estimated 12 million Ukrainians have fled their homes with some 5.2 million leaving the country.7
SAT-7 recognizes that during a time when people face shortages of food for the body, they need food for the soul.
So, SAT-7, through programs like You Are Not Alone, works to remind MENA viewers that whatever they face, God is sovereign, and He has not forgotten them. This program also provides an opportunity for local individuals to share their challenges, their faith, and how God has blessed them. This helps viewers know they are not alone in experiencing their problems – others even in different countries are facing similar issues – and they are not alone in responding to them – God is there.
Through its “Discipleship Across Borders” programming, SAT-7 supports persecuted and oppressed Christians, isolated Christians, and church leaders in the MENA. SAT-7 offers content providing scripture-based teaching, shared testimonies and viewer stories, and prayer and counseling. And the programs act as a platform through which believers can join a wider Christian community, participate in worship, and experience fellowship.
A SAT-7 program called Hope in Times of Hardship began airing just after the start of the Ukraine war as the economic implications were becoming clear. This series features a range of Christian leaders from various denominations teaching viewers a biblical view of suffering and hope, and interpreting examples from both the Old and New Testaments, in light of the hope we have in the resurrection.
One of SAT-7’s channels, SAT-7 PARS, which broadcasts in Farsi into Iran and Afghanistan, has just begun an Instagram live series called Sanctuary of the Heart, hosted by the Viewer Support staff. This live program enables people to lead and/or participate in or receive prayer. This follows two specials that SAT-7 PARS produced when the Taliban takeover occurred following U.S. withdrawal in late August 2021.
One Afghan viewer responded:
The people’s economic problems are tragic. I’m sure you have heard media reports about how some people are selling one of their children for a morsel of bread. Economic problems cannot get worse than this.
The more I see suffering and hardship, the more my hope in the Lord grows and I find that I have more peace. I ask Him not to take this hope away from me, otherwise, I would not have the strength to face these things. My message to my brothers and sisters in the faith is: pray for us.”
What’s really striking is that the only prayer in this long testimony is not for a better economy or better security – it’s that God won’t let him lose hope.
This is SAT-7’s ministry, feeding the soul in a time of physical hunger and turmoil.
Please join us in praying for MENA people; those who know nothing of Christ and Christianity; those who are seekers; those who are isolated believers.
All need to hear more of Jesus who said:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
Dr. Rex Rogers
President, SAT-7 USA
1 UNICEF (Ed.). (2020, May 27). Food crisis likely to worsen in the Middle East and North Africa as covid-19 continues. UNICEF. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.unicef.org/mena/press-releases/food-crisis-likely-worsen-middle-east-and-north-africa-covid-19-continues
2 Stork, J. (2022, March 30). The Ukraine War and the looming food crisis in the Middle East. Responsible Statecraft. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/03/30/the-ukraine-war-and-the-looming-food-crisis-in-the-middle-east/
3 North Africa Post. (2022, July 25). First Independent Mena Newspaper. The North Africa Post. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://northafricapost.com/59242-cost-of-living-crisis-africa-faces-new-shock-as-war-raises-food-and-fuel-costs.html
4 Stork, J. (2022, March 30). The Ukraine War and the looming food crisis in the Middle East. Responsible Statecraft. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/03/30/the-ukraine-war-and-the-looming-food-crisis-in-the-middle-east/
5 Tanchum, M. (2022, March 11). Lebanon is running out of time to avert starvation. The National. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.thenationalnews.com/weekend/2022/03/11/lebanon-is-running-out-of-time-to-avert-starvation/
6 Tanchum, M. (2022, March 3). The Russia-ukraine war has turned Egypt’s food crisis into an existential threat to the economy. Middle East Institute. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.mei.edu/publications/russia-ukraine-war-has-turned-egypts-food-crisis-existential-threat-economy
7 London, B. (2022, March 28). Ukraine war causing food shortages in fragile Middle East. Breitbart. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2022/03/28/ukraine-war-causing-food-shortages-fragile-middle-east/