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BREAKTHROUGH AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR

With war coming ever closer to their home in Syria, Rev. Wael Haddad and his wife, Maram Nafe Tahhan, turned to God for guidance and began seeking to migrate to Dubai. But every door they tried slammed shut – until God intervened at the eleventh hour. The couple tell their story on a special Gulf edition of Keep on Singing on SAT-7 ARABIC.

“When the war began, we had a difficult decision to make,” Wael tells viewers of the worship and testimony program. “Should we stay or leave? Both options were difficult for us, since we were travelling toward an unknown future. After praying to the Lord, we decided to leave. We knew the journey would be difficult, but the Word of God encouraged us.”

Maram takes over: “We made plans and knocked on many doors. We felt frustrated when our plans fell through and doors were closed. This taught us an unforgettable lesson: that God’s solutions are not dependent on people.” Maram shares how the couple received a call to serve in the Arab Evangelical Church in Dubai, but applications for residents’ visas were repeatedly denied. Finally, the church called with the good news: their application had been successful.

“We were so happy,” Maram says, “but on the night of that same day, a friend of ours in Syria sent us photos of our house, completely destroyed. We had built this house with our own hands, lived in it, served in it, and it was filled with memories,” she continues. “You can imagine the pain, the heartbreak, and the non-stop tears on that night. But I could feel and touch God’s hands. He showed us light, hope, and an open door.”

Before they witnessed the destruction, God had answered their prayer and opened a way for them: “I could feel God’s compassion, His support, and His care for us,” Maram adds. “Sometimes we see an unclear future, but the Holy Spirit reminds me that God works in unexpected ways behind the scenes for our good.”

Several other speakers on the program reinforce the couple’s hopeful message. Dr Hany Naguib, a church leader from Oman, says, “Have steadfast faith and be assured that God is good and wise. His promises for your life will happen in His time. There’s fear, death and scary numbers, insomnia, loss of jobs – but in all that, say, ‘Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, in the God of my salvation.’”

A boost for Christian communities
Wrapped around these inspiring words, Keep on Singing lived up to its name with worship in a kaleidoscope of styles. Musicians from Oman perform in the format that we have come to know from so many performances screened simultaneously from different locations; it came from the choir at the Oman Arab Evangelical Church; and from solo worship leaders in Oman.

While Keep on Singing is normally filmed in Egypt, previous seasons of the show have taken its film crew to Jordan and Lebanon, and brought singers and musicians from Sudan, the Holy Land, and elsewhere. COVID-19 has meant that representing Christian communities across the Arab world is now having to be done in a different way. But producer Andrew Gamal believes it gives those communities a massive boost.

“This episode is part of a campaign where we produce Keep on Singing from everywhere [and enable] everyone to engage with us during this critical time,” he explains. “We are using this lockdown and inability to go to church to cooperate with churches in Oman and Dubai and other MENA countries. It makes them feel included and makes a difference for them.” Future episodes are planned to include worship from Yemen, Kuwait, and Sudan.

Although identifying and bringing participants together and remote filming takes more time, the results are clearly worth it if the feedback from this episode alone is anything to go by.

“Amazing work! Praise the Lord for the talents and great work done,” said one viewer. “Wonderful praise time, testimonies and bible passages from the living Word. God is good,” said another. Another sent this message of unity across the churches of the region: “Special blessing and grace for the Church in Dubai and all churches around the world.”