“Thank you for telling these [Bible] stories to our kids so they can find the right path in life,” says Zohreh*, an Iranian Christian mother whose daughter watches SAT-7 PARS. As we hear the family’s story, Presenter Parastoo Poortaheri and Audience Relations team member Rahel* share how the channel guides young people on their life journeys.
“I love you very much and I thank God that I came to know about your program [Hashtag] that is so full of blessing and helps me get close to the Lord,” says Nikita, Zohreh’s daughter.
Speaking to how important it is for children to have access to God’s Word in Iran, Zohreh says: “We didn’t hear stories of Jesus and the Bible on TV or at school. These kids are the future of this country, and they have to find God’s way – not the wrong way, or the way we had.”
In a region with limited Christian resources, especially for children, Audience Relations Coordinator Rahel says, “Parents like Zohreh are in touch with us, asking us to help their children know more about Christ. We continually build on the support we provide these young people, through a range of resources that will help grow and encourage their faith and their enthusiasm for Jesus and His Word.”
“I gave my daughter to God, and God put you in her way,” Zohreh continues. “She prays everywhere and anywhere. I hope you continue making this beautiful program [Hashtag], to show the way to our kids.”
Growing up in Iran, Afghanistan, or Tajikistan, children and youth face social restrictions, financial difficulties in their families, pressure to succeed, lack of future job opportunities, and rising drug abuse among their peers. Faced with these difficulties, many are asking questions about life and challenging social norms in the region.
“Teenagers have become braver, more daring,” shares Parastoo Poortaheri, Presenter of the youth program Hashtag. “They are smart, and they love technology. To find answers to their questions, they even find ways to go around all the restrictions in the country, like censorship of Facebook and other social media apps.” Through SAT-7 PARS programs such as Hashtag, many viewers are expressing curiosity in God, Jesus, and the Christian faith, comparing what they learn on the program to what they learn at school.
Although popular live youth programs such as Hashtag provide a platform for viewers to engage with these topics, not all questions and comments can be addressed within the one-hour show. Audience Relations teams are therefore an essential part of building relationships with viewers and helping them answer their questions. Recently, Rahel says, the number of children contacting the team has grown.
“One young girl called Elnaz* sent us messages full of questions,” shares Rahel. “One of her questions was ‘Jesus Christ is a prophet, right? Because I have heard some say that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and this is a mistake because I learned that God has no children.’” In the conversations that followed between Elnaz and the Audience Relations team, Elnaz wanted to know more about the story of Jesus calling children to Himself.
“The children who are in touch with us are mostly between nine and 14 years old,” shares Rahel, explaining the team is growing in capacity to answer theological questions. “Many of them think maturely, and we need to adjust the way we discuss and answer their questions. As more children are reading Bibles, we want to be ready to respond to questions from children who are not able to attend Sunday schools or church groups, considering the constraints that Christians face in the country.”
*Names changed for security purposes