Nations gather in Turkey for Network 2014

Countries typically included in the MENA region are highlighted in dark blue. Light blue countries are those that are occasionally included.  (Map courtesy Wikipedia)

Countries typically included in the MENA region are highlighted in dark blue. Light blue countries are those that are occasionally included.
(Map courtesy Wikipedia)

Turkey (SAT-7/MNN) — The Church in Turkey is crossing into new territory. People from 26 nations are gathering this week at Network 2014 to hear how and why the Gospel is advancing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

SAT-7, the Christian satellite TV broadcaster watched by 15 million Arabic-, Farsi- and Turkish-speaking viewers in MENA, will hold its first annual “Network” conference in Turkey March 26-28, 2013.

Church leaders and SAT-7 staff from across the region will offer perspectives on events and share news of the network’s six TV channels.

“The very significant turnout for this event–with people coming from as far away as the USA, Korea, and Singapore–shows just how high on people’s agendas the Middle East and its beleaguered Christian communities now are,” says SAT-7 CEO Terry Ascott.

Taking the Network 2014 theme, “Broadcasting hope in an era of hopelessness,” Ascott will give a keynote address looking at “both the reasons why there’s a lack of hope–even a sense of despair–and what it is that SAT-7 does to bring hope and positive change in the lives of our audiences in this troubled region.”

Zekai Tanyar, a Turkish pastor and former chair of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, will lead daily devotional sessions and give his views on the past and present spiritual state of his country.

“It’s an immense encouragement to witness such a gathering in Turkey, when forty years ago there were almost no printed Christian books apart from the Bible,” says Tanyar.

“Now we’re using mass media with the potential to reach millions and seeing the collaboration of the family of Christ across the nations!”

Tanyar adds that Christian hope remains a vital missing dimension in MENA, which has seen hopes for change lead to disappointment in countries like Syria, Egypt, and Libya.

“The world nowadays is so interconnected, even the youth look over the walls to other places and lose hope. But God’s happy to meet people where they are,” says Tanyar.

“As they zap and flick through channels and sites, He [God] can and does whisper hope to the soul. If that’s where people are, then that’s where the Church must be, too: not to amuse its in-house audience but as a channel for God’s love.”

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