Daily Contact with Afghanistan
SAT-7 PARS Broadcasts in Dari Dialect for Afghans
The current social climate in Afghanistan has made the hope that SAT-7 programming offers even more important. Afghan authorities recently reported that the number of Afghans addicted to drugs has risen to at least 1 million. The specters of war and poverty have contributed to the number of people seeking refuge from their lives through drug use. Some attempt to literally run away from dangers, only to realize they are trapped. The past week marked the beginning of the annual spring offensive, during which insurgents carried out bombings and gun and rocket attacks in four separate provinces. The violence has a particularly deleterious effect on life in the capital city of Kabul, and last week’s attacks are considered the biggest since 2001. It is in spite of these challenges that many Afghans seek a more peaceful future, and growing numbers are finding hope and encouragement in the shows they are watching on SAT-7 PARS.
Every day, people in Afghanistan are watching SAT-7 and calling in to Audience Relations with questions and feedback. The Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS says, “I used to be very happy if I heard of one call from Afghanistan and I used to celebrate the whole week. Amazingly, now…we get around 60 to 70 calls every month from Afghanistan.” In September 2010, SAT-7 PARS had started airing a program called Raze Zendeghi (Secret of Life) in Dari, an Afghan dialect. The channel is accessible on television in western Afghanistan and online throughout the country. Raze Zendeghi is now broadcast four times a week to meet a growing audience. While about 50% of Afghans speak Dari, many are bilingual and understand other dialects of Farsi. About 30 viewer contacts per month are responding specifically to programs broadcast in the Dari dialect. Given a literacy rate of only about 28%, television may be the only way many people in Afghanistan can study Scripture and learn about God.
The numbers are encouraging, but they are not what matter most to the Executive Director. Ultimately, the aim of SAT-7 PARS programming is to affect a positive spiritual impact on viewers. The spiritual impact of programming is immeasurable and only sensed through building relationships with viewers. When asked in an interview about the most rewarding aspect of working with SAT-7 PARS, the Executive Director said: “I think [the most] rewarding aspect is getting beautiful stories from the viewers, how their lives [have] been changed. I think that is the most precious thing we get at SAT-7…because you see where the person was and where he is now and where he needs to go in accordance to …our plan.” The plan to which she refers is Seminary of the Air (SOTA). SOTA is a program designed to lead believers to higher levels of Biblical knowledge, spiritual maturity, and eventually church leadership. This design lends to supporting a growing church in the region. The Executive Director also mentioned she is especially touched by viewers’ stories that show a personal journey.
On topics ranging from everyday life to the sublime, Afghan viewers living in other countries are watching SAT-7 PARS and calling Audience Relations. An Afghan refugee living in Iran called Audience Relations to discuss a problem he was having at work. His supervisor had not paid him for the work he was doing, and the viewer had been praying for a long time about how to respond. Another Afghan viewer called in with questions about Christianity, telling staff that he had been studying the Bible for 2 years while living in Pakistan as an NGO worker. Lastly, sharing her personal journey, a middle-aged Afghan woman living in Iran called. She does not have a television or know what email is, but saw SAT-7 programming while visiting a friend’s house and decided to call the Audience Relations team. She was brought to tears as she told Audience Relations about a vision she had of Jesus in a dream, and that she loved Him with all her heart. Before the vision, she was plagued by a health complication and depression. After having the vision of Jesus, her depression was cured and she wanted to know more about Jesus and her dreams.
The Executive Director has high hopes for the future of the channel, including reaching more people in Afghanistan and someday extending throughout Tajikistan, providing programs in the local Tajik dialect.
Click on the image below for an introduction to the SAT-7 PARS channel!