“We were praying for years for my husband’s
family,” writes a woman from Sudan. ”They
started to watch your programs recently; they are all Christians
now. Praise the Lord!”
Elsewhere a man
from Saudi Arabia explains he is married with two children
and has become a Christian.
“I don’t know how to announce my faith, and I
don’t want to los(e) my kids and not to see them again
if my wife took them away from me,” he says. “Pray
for me, help me and (advise) me if you can.”
VISION FOR THE ARAB WORLD: The organisation's programs
are watched by hundreds of thousands of people across
the Arab World. PICTURE: Lior Filshteiner (www.istockphoto.com)
“The Gospel addresses the whole person and all
people,” says a statement from Arab Vision.
“An integral part of discipleship to Christ
is a vision for a just society. This involves a commitment
to human rights, to the poor, to minorities, to women,
to refugees, to the powerless, and to those with special
needs. In its productions Arab Vision supports the
struggle of these people for a dignified life.”
They are just a
couple of the thousands of messages Christian television production
and distribution company Arab Vision receives every month.
Founded in 1997, the organisation was created by a community
of Christians dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel across the
“Arab World”, a term which includes the countries
of the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East and those nations
in North Africa where Arabic is the first official language
of the state.
Ten years after it’s founding, Arab Vision these days
delivers programs 24 hours a day to an audience estimated
to range up into the millions via national and local television
broadcasts as well as via satellite links. They range from
Bible study and teaching programs to dramas, music videos
and documentaries looking at issues like human rights.
According to the organisation, more than half of all Arabic-speaking
people are functionally illiterate. Hovig Nassanian, communications
director for Arab Vision, says that “as most people
in the Arab world cannot read, and those that can read often
do not like reading, TV is a great means for spreading the
“Most Arabs spend many hours per day in front of the
TV set,” he notes. “The Arabic culture is also
an oral culture - people communicate much better by speech
than in writing.”
In a statement of its programming philosophy, the organisation
says it stresses God’s transforming power “in
all areas of human life”.
“The Gospel addresses the whole person and all people,”
it states. “An integral part of discipleship to Christ
is a vision for a just society. This involves a commitment
to human rights, to the poor, to minorities, to women, to
refugees, to the powerless, and to those with special needs.
In its productions Arab Vision supports the struggle of these
people for a dignified life.”
It’s a philosophy that can bring heat down upon them
- indeed citing security concerns and the sensitivity of some
of the organisation’s programming, Arab Vision won’t
disclose the countries and locations of their production centres.
As well as producing and distributing its own programs, part
of Arab Vision’s mission is to train Christians living
in the Arab World to produce programs themselves.
Nassanian, who was born in Beirut and has a background in
journalism and broadcasting, says that the organisation receives
an average of 2,500 responses a month from the audience.
“The response from the audience is very encouraging,”
he says. “Many write or call to say that they have found
hope and salvation in Christ. Then there are those who write
to report answered prayers and miracles in their lives. They
also ask us to pray for them and provide practical help and
“In some countries, we are able to connect our viewers
with local churches and Christians to provide them support,
medical help, and explanation of the Gospel. A number
of 'home churches' have been started recently, made up of
Nassanian says there is a “major movement” of
Arab Muslims coming to faith in Christ.
Christians need to be taught God's Word and discipled.
In many of the Arab countries, it is very difficult
and dangerous to do this face-to-face. That's
why TV programs are so ideal to reach the thousands
who are seeking to follow and grow in Christ.”
“In many cases
and places, this may be in secret and not openly known yet,
but the response from both the radio and TV ministries in
the region, along with reports from the countries themselves,
seem to suggest large numbers coming to faith in Christ,”
“Of course, that is only the beginning of the process. These
new Christians need to be taught God's Word and discipled.
In many of the Arab countries, it is very difficult and dangerous
to do this face-to-face. That's why TV programs are so
ideal to reach the thousands who are seeking to follow and
grow in Christ.”
Challenges remain. Nassanian says there are all kinds of misconceptions
and hurdles which need to be overcome in reaching people in
the region - as well as the overcoming false teachings about
Christ, he says the political situation in the region and
the “automatic association” of Christianity with
the US and Western polices make it hard to break through.
“It is a challenge in the sense that we must show in
our programs that the Christian faith is truly a Middle Eastern
religion and that its roots in the Arab World are deep,”
“In itself, this is not hard because it is the truth!
We must consciously work at it though because many Muslims
assume that the Christian faith we proclaim is coming from
the West. And because of that association, any unfair or biased
political policies and operations from the West act as a catalyst
to further antagonise the average Muslim Arab towards Christianity.”
Asked what Australians can be praying for with regard to the
work of Arab Vision, Nassanian answers: “We need God's
Spirit and power to open the eyes and hearts of those who
are drawn to Christ. Also pray for protection and wisdom
for those working in the region.”