Daring to believe
Christian media pioneer Terence Ascott has seen an 'explosion of interest in Christianity' in the Middle East - and in a new book and tour the SAT-7 founder shares highlights of 50 years of impact
Crofton Baptist Church in Orpington first welcomed a young teenager and new Christian called Terence Ascott through its doors in 1963. Over the coming decades it would see him embark on mission trips into Eastern Europe, publish a Christian youth magazine sold from newsstands in 12 Arab nations, and then found SAT-7, a Christian TV and media ministry watched by millions across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
In his new book, Dare to Believe!, Ascott tells his story and that of SAT-7, which he will also be bringing to audiences this summer and autumn at events in Bristol, Bromley, Bangor NI, and the New Wine conference.
It's a story of incredible impact, underpinned by the support of his local Baptist church.
'For almost 50 years Crofton has been thrilled to support Terry,' said Crofton member and SAT-7 international treasurer, Roy Kemp, 'and, over the last 26 years, to support SAT-7’s remarkable ministry and partnership with the Middle East Church.'
'Terrible' or 'impossible'?
The book relates how he first encountered the MENA region while working as a publisher and literature distributor in Lebanon, arriving there in 1973, shortly before the eruption of the Lebanese civil war. Dare to Believe! relates how his son Gavin was born in a Beirut hospital on one of the heaviest nights of fighting between rival militias. The photo below shows the Ascott family evacuating Beirut with one-week old Gavin in December 1975.
It was in Egypt, the Ascotts’ next base, where the idea for a Christian television ministry came. It happened one evening when he saw a night watchman’s family huddled in a makeshift shelter around a TV. As a TV sceptic, it seemed to Ascott a 'terrible idea'. The Middle East church leaders he introduced it to thought it an impossible one!
However, in 1996, the fledgling station aired its first programme from a rented studio in Lebanon and responses started to pour in from across the Arab world. In a few short years, Ascott was meeting with Christians from Iran and church leaders in Turkey where SAT-7 channels would also be established.
Today four satellite TV channels and associated digital platforms in the major Middle East languages of Arabic, Persian and Turkish are watched by millions. SAT-7 has studios in three MENA nations and programme-makers in two more. Tens of thousands of viewers contact the network each year, seeking help and sharing their testimonies of God’s grace in their lives.
'During my nearly 50 years in the Middle East, I’ve witnessed massive change, starting with the Iranian Revolution and going on to the rise of the so-called Islamic State,' said Ascott. 'I’ve seen disinterest in the Gospel to outright hostility toward it, and also the passionate embracing of Christianity and the daring courage of Middle Eastern believers.'
Today Ascott serves as SAT-7’s Founder and President, having handed over its leadership to Lebanese born Rita El-Mounayer in April 2019. Dare to Believe! demonstrates how the ministry has always sought to be “owned” by the Middle East Church and served mostly by believers in or from the region.
'I am really looking forward to getting out and sharing about the book,' Ascott said. 'I hope that people will be inspired as they hear more about God’s faithfulness in the growth of SAT-7. But as much as Dare to Believe! is about the story of SAT-7, it is also about the Church in the Middle East and the explosion of interest in Christianity in places like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.'
Rachel Fadipe, SAT-7 UK Executive Director, invited people to come and find out more at one of the Dare to Believe events: 'The tour is designed both for SAT-7 supporters and to give others who are completely new to the ministry an eye-opening and inspiring introduction to the MENA region and SAT-7. We know from experience how people are amazed and thrilled by the ways God is using this multi-platform media ministry in partnership with the Church in the region.'
To book free tickets for the Dare to Believe tour, go to sat7uk.org/daretobelieve
Dare to Believe dates:
28 May 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Bristol: Woodlands Church Belgrave Road Bristol BS8 2AA, Woodlands Church, Belgrave Road, BS8 2AA
18 June 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Bromley Crofton Baptist Church 100 Crofton Lane, Orpington BR5 1HD, Crofton Baptist Church, 100 Crofton Lane, Orpington, BR5 1HD
23 July 2022 - 3 August 2022. Times TBC
Peterborough: New Wine United, The East of England Showground, Oundle Rd,
8 October 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Bangor, Northern Ireland, First Bangor Presbyterian Church, Main St, BT20 4AG
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