MCLEAN, Va. – A Lebanese Christian media leader recently shared how a ministry using satellite television can reach millions of children in the Middle East and Northern Africa with the Gospel message of love and hope which markedly contrasts some of the suicide attack propaganda directed at children onscreen.
Rita El Mounayer, SAT-7 program director, passionately spoke at McLean Presbyterian Church on Friday about the importance of providing a message of hope, love, and forgiveness in the Middle East where people are bombarded with war and violence in their daily lives.
SAT-7, a Christian satellite ministry that produces and broadcasts Christian programming, is viewed by some 8-10 million people in the Middle East and North Africa including in Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
The program director, who herself grew up during war-time, said that children are sometimes indoctrinated with the glory of suicide attacks by TV programs. She played, as example, a music video clip used to promote martyrdom in which a teenager is singing about a farewell letter to his parents before going to seek Shahada, or death for Allah.
"Be joyful over my blood and do not cry for me," sang the Shahada-seeker as a young boy throws a rock and then falls to the ground dead in the background.
"These children are victims of religious extremism," said El Mounayer. "This religious extremism leads to violence, it leads to hatred… mainly using media strategies to put in the heart of these children hate and violence."
She called for using the same medium, satellite television, to broadcasts an alternative message of love, forgiveness and life instead of death.
"I really believe that if we want to change the face of the Middle East today we should start with the children," said El Mounayer, who noted 60 percent of the population in the Middle East is under the age of 25.
She read letters from kids who have watched the children's programs who expressed words of love, hope and joy in knowing Jesus Christ. Many children and their families have also requested Bibles after watching the shows.
"Media, television can reach millions [while] NGOs can [only] reach hundreds or thousands," highlighted El Mounayer. "We can use this tool (media) to bring the love of Christ to millions of people in the Middle East.
"So instead of war, giving them hope for a better future. Instead of destruction teach them to build. Instead of illiteracy give them the opportunity to learn and to grow," she concluded.
Nearly half the people in the Middle East are functionally illiterate and depend on television as their own way of gaining information.