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« on: September 02, 2004, 11:33:50 PM »

Christian Broadcasts Beam Encouragement to Iraqi Believers

by Allie Martin
September 1, 2004

(AgapePress) - A spokesman for a Christian satellite television network that broadcasts to the Middle East says it is tragic that tens of thousands of believers have fled Iraq in recent months.

It is estimated that 40,000 Christians have left Iraq where fierce battles rage between coalition forces and terrorist supporters. Glen Hartson is with SAT-7, which beams Christian programming into the Middle East and Egypt. If the exodus continues, he says evangelism will be affected and "obviously it could be a very disastrous situation."

SAT-7's belief, Hartson explains, is that "strengthening the body within each of the countries is what is going to continue to allow the [Church] to grow and be strengthened." But with violence and fear escalating and many believers fleeing the region, he says "it's going to put that country at a point in which it may have very little Christian witness, so that is of great concern."

The network representative notes that, ironically, the mass departure of Iraqi Christians has resulted indirectly from the liberation of Iraq and is largely due to the tension and fighting between the coalition forces and terrorists.

"Many people, especially here in the West, don't realize that, strangely enough, under Saddam Hussein, Christians were kind of left alone," Hartson says. While liberation certainly has been wonderful in one sense, he points out that from a Christian sense, with the change, Iraqi Christians went from living in relative security to living in constant danger.

"They are now being caught in this political scenario," the SAT-7 spokesman says, "and there have been bombings, there have been threats. It has been very, very difficult for Christians now living in that region."

But although the Iraqi Christians are caught in the middle of a tense political situation, Hartson says the Christian network is urging believers to maintain a presence and witness in the troubled country. SAT-7 has incorporated small programming elements into its broadcasts in hopes of encouraging Christians to remain in Iraq.

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