SYRIAN BOY: SAT-7 WORSHIP SONGS HELPED ME DURING KIDNAPPING
Jad*, a 17-year-old Syrian boy, called in to SAT-7 KIDS to tell his favourite presenter how much the channel’s programs mean to him. When he was displaced and kidnapped by militants in 2015, Jad says, recalling songs from a sing-along worship show brought him comfort.
“When the war started, everything changed. I left my house; I left my region. I was far from my siblings, away from my dad. Some people attempted to murder my dad,” says 17-year-old Syrian boy Jad* in a phone call to SAT-7 KIDS Presenter Marianne Awaraji Daou.
Marianne shares that she had to hold back tears while listening to Jad tell this part of his story.
“Jad called my program Allo Marianne twice,” she says. “The first time, he said he has been watching SAT-7 KIDS since he was nine or 10, in secret because his family do not know he is a believer. He said he grew to know and love God through the programs. He remembered all the songs I used to sing years ago. This was a really special moment for me.”
But the second time Marianne heard from Jad, she found out there is so much more to his story. Jad shared how, four years in to Syria’s decade-long civil conflict, adversaries came after his family, kidnapping his father. Jad was later kidnapped himself, too.
“Dad was in one place, and I was in a different place. That was the worst part of it. Mom and my brothers were safe. Thankfully we are back together now,” he shares.
During this time of catastrophic loss, Jad remembered the songs he learned and sang along to on SAT-7 KIDS. They gave him a sense of comfort and peace. He says, “Even when I was kidnapped, I used to remember the songs. I used to sing them again and again.” Jad’s favourite song, written by Marianne several years ago, is called “Because God So Loves You”.
Today, Jad’s dream is to be baptised, though this presents hurdles due to his family not knowing about his faith. He asked others to pray this will happen, and to pray for mothers to be reunited with their children, brothers reunited with brothers, and for peace to reign in Syria.
“I am sure there are many viewers like Jad, who are from a non-Christian background, watching us secretly,” shares Marianne. “I believe that God is working in their lives just like He did in Jad’s life. We should do what we do faithfully – pray for our viewers, follow up with them, and show them real the love and hope we have in Christ.”
The emotional and spiritual support SAT-7 KIDS programs provide Arabic-speaking children can be vital at times of crisis, when they offer a safe space for them to share their feelings. Young viewers children have contacted the channel to share and ask for prayer during violence and humanitarian crises in Syria, the aftermath of the Beirut explosion in August 2020, and the recent violence in the Holy Land. The presenters and audience relations staff also aim to help them develop a faith that helps them lean on God during these times.
“We teach them that despite our sadness, we can deal with catastrophes by expressing our fears and facing them,” says Marianne. “We can take our sadness to God and trust that He is hope. Clearly the Word of God that was sowed in viewers’ lives has changed them. It is still engraved in their hearts.”
*Name changed, picture for illustration only