A new program aims to reach Afghan Christians who are forced to conceal their faith.
In November SAT-7’s Persian-language channel launched a new social media initiative, Church4Afghanistan, comprised of a new brand and a live program. Because openly revealing your Christian faith can lead to death, most believers gather solely online, primarily on Facebook. The daring weekly live program, Church4Afghanistan, will be available on the social media platform.
Noorullah Noor, an Afghan pastor living in Germany will lead the effort and be joined by different Afghan guests. Together they will explore biblical topics, while also discussing the current situation in Afghanistan, especially for the Christians living in the country.
It has never been easy for Christians in Afghanistan – they make up less than 1 percent of the country’s population of 39 million. It has particularly dangerous after American troops retreated in the controversial and deadly August 2021 pull-out. Since then, an unknown number of Christians have been hunted down and murdered by the Taliban, all while the country has plummeted into chaos with a majority of its people still near starvation.
But the new social media program aims to bring hope. It will be supported by various resources including music videos and Bible verses that will address viewers’ needs more holistically. Church4Afghanistan will be located primarily on Facebook, where most Afghan viewers are active, but will also be available on Instagram.
Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, Panayiotis Keenan, believes the Church in Afghanistan will grow. There are similarities between what is happening in Afghanistan today and what happened in Iran 40 years ago.
“Through Church4Afghanistan, we want to further support the Christians in Afghanistan by providing them with a platform through which they can access Christian resources and receive mature Christian teaching in Dari, their own heart language, as well as make their voices heard,” says Keenan.
For several years, SAT-7 PARS has served its Afghan audiences by broadcasting the Dari-language programs Secret of Life and Window of Light, produced by partner Pamir Ministries. Most recently, since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, SAT-7 PARS has produced two seasons of the Dari, pre-recorded program Following Christ, which will be broadcast on satellite television in the coming months.
In the last two years, the channel has also seen an increase in engagement from Afghan viewers. Since Facebook is not blocked or restricted as it is in Iran, the largest proportion of SAT-7 PARS’s Facebook followers are from Afghanistan. Many have been reaching out, asking for Christian material and prayer, sharing their struggles and testimonies, and explaining how the channel has helped them.
“Please send all your content with messages and worship songs – I would be very grateful. My family has abandoned me, and I am not accepted by anyone in society,” shares Behrooz* a male viewer in Afghanistan.
Ansar*, another male viewer has also reached out to say: “Greetings in the Lord to you and all staff at SAT-7 PARS, who day and night serve the dear believers. Your excellent programs give us the strength to better pray and worship the Lord. We benefit from talks given by teachers and great figures appearing on your programs and are blessed and receive grace.”
“It has long been on our hearts to produce something for our Afghan audiences on social media, which we are finally doing now with the launch of Church4Afghanistan,” Keenan adds.
According to UNICEF, Afghanistan is currently the worst place to be born in the world. Violence and injustice are rife. Restrictions are denying job opportunities to many young Afghan men, while one young woman described herself to SAT-7 as “trapped in a chador [burka], only able to peer through a small opening, as though through the bars of a prison window.” New Christians face abandonment by their families, or much worse reprisals, and cannot gather safely for worship or fellowship.
But as both a satellite channel and a social media presence, SAT‑7 PARS can create a church for Afghan believers that cannot be closed. Please pray for the channel team and viewers in Afghanistan, as they ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance. Pray that Church4Afghanistan will prove fruitful as the channel seeks to empower and encourage Christian viewers in Afghanistan.
*Names changed for security purposes.
–Dwight Widaman and Sat-7