*Tahir and his wife, *Rima, from Syria, first came to know Christ a year ago. As they are learning and growing in their new faith, a key part of that support comes in the form of a Christian TV program.
The same is true for *Kamal, a Christian in Morocco who formerly belonged to another faith. He doesn’t have the freedom to ask Christians in his city about his faith questions, or to find strength in a local community of believers. Every week he watches the same TV program to hear worship songs and the testimonies of other Christians.
The couple from Syria and the believer from Morocco both reach out to the show’s response team through social media to request prayer, ask questions, comment on the stories and music, or express gratitude for the show.
“Follow Me with Ayman Kafrouny” is the live, weekly Nazarene broadcast they are watching. Every Wednesday, the program airs globally on the Arabic-language Christian network, SAT-7. The network’s several channels broadcast in 25 Middle Eastern and North African countries, as well as 50 European countries. Wikipedia reports that as of 2017, the total viewing audience of SAT-7’s several channels was estimated at over 21 million.
“Follow Me” began as an hour-long series, but has recently expanded to episodes of 90 minutes. Kafrouny said the guests provided such rich content that the team realized 60 minutes wasn’t long enough cover all the desired material.
It is aired four times a week, with the first broadcast being live, and then repeating three more times.
“This means we have six hours of air time weekly,” Kafrouny said.
Viewers who contact the “Follow Me” team are watching in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan and beyond. They reach out through the program’s Facebook page, calling or text, and send messages through other digital platforms, including WhatsApp.
One woman responded after a program featured a guest who ministers in Lebanese prisons. The viewer is also involved in prison ministry – to women in Sudan. She was encouraged by the guest’s stories.
Each episode features worship music led by Bouchrieh Church of the Nazarene’s worship team, as well as a guest, either a well-known public figure or someone “ordinary,” who shares a testimony and answers questions.
Program themes grapple with difficult issues and questions, such as, where is God when there is dislocation and war; whether and how Christians can engage politically; and how to reflect God’s character in the home.
“Follow Me” is the sixth television program produced by Nazarene Broadcast Communication Ministries.
“We noticed that almost all our previous productions so far were focusing on the Great Commission,” said Rev. Ayman Kafrouny, who directs and produces the programs with a team of Nazarenes, most of whom are members of Bouchrieh Church of the Nazarene, in Beirut, Lebanon, where he serves as lead pastor. “So it’s time for us now to put more emphasis on our doctrine (holiness) that distinguishes us from other denominations, and to give a simple and clear explanation on how we believe a Christian should live his or her life as a witness for Jesus Christ.”
In preparing and developing the program, Kafrouny observed other Christian programs airing in Arabic, and noticed that few of them focused on holiness; those that did discuss it failed to do so in a clear, simple and practical way, he said.
“We hope this program will help our audience to know that holiness is not designated just for an elite group of Christians,” Kafrouny said. “Rather, it’s a command in the Scripture (Heb 12:14) (Rom 8:29), and it’s possible to every person, since God is the one who will accomplish it in the life of those who believe it.”
This is the first year for the team to develop a live show. Because SAT-7 producers believe so deeply in the value of “Follow Me,” they have provided studio space, equipment and part of the technical crew.
Through funding from World Mission Broadcast, a fund supported by local Nazarene churches around the world, the “Follow Me” team are able to hire additional freelancers to complete the crew.
While it’s not possible to measure exactly how many are watching “Follow Me” each week, the growing interactions with the Nazarene follow-up team through Facebook indicate the show is expanding its audience weekly. Since it launched in May 2018, its Facebook page has reported numbers of interactions as high as 46,000. Each episode is posted on the page for long-term availability after it airs.
Visual broadcasts are the most popular forms of media in the Arabic world, Kafrouny said. Previous Nazarene TV programs, some of which aired as long ago as 2009, remain in syndication on various Christian TV stations around the world or are still being watched on the Internet. Kafrouny said regularly people approach him to thank him for an episode of a now-ended TV program that they have just seen in a re-run or on a website, such as YouTube.
That means all the previous Nazarene Arabic-language TV programs continue to have an indefinite lifespan to impact viewers, even beyond their original airdate. It’s natural to expect that “Follow Me” will, as well.
“Our hope or our prayer is to reach out to people who we cannot see face to face,” Kafrouny said. “The results, the fruits, we may not see them all. We believe the people we are reaching, that many are becoming members in the Kingdom of God.”
— By Gina Grate Pottenger
*Names changed for privacy
“Follow Me” is partially funded through World Mission Broadcast (WMB), a fund to which local Nazarene churches around the world contribute offerings.
WMB provides grants to local churches and districts to create and develop evangelistic and discipling broadcasts that may air on radio and television stations, and the Internet.
Find out more, or give now at: http://nazarene.org/wmb