A Christian TV station has begun broadcasting on a Turkish satellite network for the first time in what is being hailed as a significant moment for the Christian community there.
SAT-7 TÜRK's broadcasts now have the potential to reach more than 50 million viewers in Turkey, Europe and central Asia.
The channel was launched in 2006 but could only share satellite time on other SAT-7 channels, though for the last year it has also broadcast on the internet. Because the government-regulated Türksat 4A is the most popular satellite with the largest audience in Turkey, however, it can now reach millions of viewers.
"We are overwhelmed and truly believe it is a miracle that we can finally broadcast on Türksat," said executive director Melih Ekener. "We have hoped, dreamed and prayerfully anticipated this launch since the station began airing on SAT-7 ARABIC in 2006. It is really a miracle, and we are very thankful to God for what he has been doing."
Turkey's Christian population decreased dramatically in the 20th century, though it is still the spiritual home of the Orthodox Church. There are now only about 150,000 Christian believers in Turkey and SAT-7 believes that a television channel that is produced by local believers, serves their own communities and airs programs about the significant Christian heritage of the country will help reach others for Christ.
SAT-7 TÜRK produces drama, documentaries, music, worship, children's, women's and youth programs and, more recently, live shows. The staff produced 360 hours of new programming in 2014 and is expected to increase that dramatically this year.
"So many things have miraculously fallen into place over the past few months that it is impossible to miss the hand of God in facilitating the start of SAT-7 TÜRK broadcasting on Türksat," said Dr Terence Ascott, founder and chief executive officer of SAT-7. "We give God the praise for this exciting development and also recognise the signal this sends to the world about the Turkish authorities' positive attitude towards Christians and other minorities in the country."