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14th June 2024

As Father’s Day is celebrated around the world, we consider the challenges facing fathers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and hear from SAT-7 viewers who are looking to their heavenly Father to help them raise their own families.

Arman,* a father from Afghanistan, reached out to SAT-7 with this heartbreaking message: “I am truly tired of life and have no hope or trust in my future or that of my children. I don’t want my children to live under the rule of the Taliban in the hellhole called Afghanistan. I don’t want my poor children to study in a school that is controlled by the Taliban.”

Since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan nearly three years ago, life has been extremely difficult for ordinary people who are trying to provide for their families, especially for Christians and other minorities, who face further challenges.

But Arman is looking to God for help. “I share my needs with my heavenly Father,” he said. “My greatest need at present is that I don’t have a job that pays a wage. I am asking God for a job that allows kindness and respect and protects the freedom to act according to my conscience, a job that will help my relationship with God to grow and be strengthened.”

Despite his struggles, Arman is confident that God will provide for his family and meet their needs. “The way God came to me in a completely restrictive society and touched my heart is miraculous and extraordinary. So, I believe that God will also perform other miracles in my life,” he said.

Addressing Challenges

Arman’s story highlights a number of the challenges facing fathers in the MENA today. Economic turmoil in countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Türkiye is causing major problems for fathers, who are generally responsible for the family’s financial security. Those in countries where there is political instability and/or conflict also have the pressure of trying to protect their families in dangerous situations. And many Christian fathers have the added difficulty of raising their children to follow Christ in contexts of persecution and restrictions on religious freedom.

SAT-7 is helping fathers through programs that address their challenges and offer biblical advice. A recent episode of the SAT-7 ARABIC talk show It is Important to be Christian explored stories of fathers in the MENA who are doing their best to reflect the love of God to their children.

Marie, a Lebanese guest on the program, explained her father’s positive role in her upbringing. “My father was a hero to me,” she said. “There was nothing he couldn’t do. No one could tarnish his image in my mind. There’s God, and there’s my father. I felt safe all the time because I knew that if I was right my father would support me, and if I was wrong, he would put me back on the right track and not leave me.”

University professor Ziad Francis, another Lebanese guest on It is Important to be Christian, shared how he had to reclaim his role as a father after his role at work became all-consuming. “I buried myself at work,” he recalled. “I worked long hours even in the middle of the night. I realized later that I didn’t see my family most of the time. I would return from work to find them asleep.”

One moment served as a wake-up call. “One night my son woke up to go to the bathroom and asked me when he could play with me,” Ziad said. “I realized that I didn’t want to be in a place where my son would ask me for an appointment to spend some time with me.” Ziad made the decision to give up his job “after praying and seeking God’s guidance.” By coming to the Father, Ziad was able to listen to the cry of his son’s heart and give his family what they needed most.

The Father’s Embrace

Sadly, many earthly fathers do not – or cannot – listen and respond to their children’s needs. But, as SAT-7 hears from many of its viewers, people in the MENA are encountering the perfect love of God the Father.

“Despite rejection by my dad, I experienced the embrace of the Father when I came to faith in Jesus Christ,” SAT-7 PARS viewer Nasim said. “I sensed His embrace when I was facing arrest and interrogation, and when I had to choose between Christ and my family. I sensed His embrace when I had to bring up a child completely on my own and when I lived with illness and in deprivation. And now, as I live in exile and face the hardships and uncertainties of asylum, I sense the Father’s embrace… My experience of the Father is security, peace, comfort, and patience.”

Please Pray

On Father’s Day, pray that fathers in the MENA will have the strength to overcome all the challenges they face, and also that many will come to know the love of the Father for themselves.

 

*Viewer names have been changed for security.

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