NURTURING NEW BRANCHES OF SAT-7’S MINISTRY
Jan Ørskov, SAT-7’s Chief Operations Officer, joined the ministry in January 2020. After an extraordinary first 18 months, in which crisis propelled innovation and great faith was required, he shares how SAT-7’s operations are evolving as the ministry turns 25.
“How does a Dane fall in love with a Middle Eastern ministry?”
In 2015, Denmark began to receive large numbers of refugees, and my family got to know many young people from Iran and Afghanistan who were the same age as my sons. Through our relationships with these friends, several of whom have become like family, I began to learn more about life in the Middle East. It was fascinating, complex, and heartbreaking.
Always motivated by a desire to make a difference, I had spent 30 years in public broadcasting. So when I was introduced to SAT-7 a few years later, these experiences intersected, and I instantly connected with the ministry. Making God’s love visible is something I profoundly believe in and have always felt a calling for – my very first role in media was actually as a volunteer with a Christian radio program, when I was 17. SAT-7’s interdenominational work, holistic mission, and non-confrontational approach all deeply resonated with me, too. Here was the chance to bring my knowledge of media and leadership to serving the people of the region I had come to love.
This is both an exciting and demanding time to be steering SAT-7’s operations, after 25 years of broadcasting. SAT-7’s first pioneering years – as the ministry transitioned from seedling, to sapling, to maturity – were truly amazing. As I began my role, I expected to focus on how we should consolidate and build in this next phase; how we handle the huge and necessary transition from traditional television ministry into the digital age.
And then, just two months after I joined SAT-7, COVID-19 turned the world upside down. While the first months of the pandemic were hard, as I feared both for the health of SAT-7’s staff and for the future of our work – it was an important and instructive time to be our CEO Rita El-Mounayer’s right-hand man. Rita is always confident in God’s provision for the ministry, and she has been proved right. Not only was SAT-7 able to continue making God’s love visible in many vital ways, but He has worked to bring so much unexpected good out of the tragedy of the pandemic.
Among SAT-7’s audience, as well as across the world, the increased need for digital connection sparked a significant growth in audience engagement as well as innovation that might otherwise have happened much more slowly. The result is that as we mark our anniversary, SAT-7’s ministry now has multiple branches. Our satellite branch remains vital in the Middle East and North Africa, a region with high illiteracy rates, the risk of censorship and security issues. But alongside it, two new, digital branches now grow: our pioneering video-on-demand streaming service SAT-7 PLUS, and a new social media presence with its own innovative content that is reaching a whole new, distinct audience.
But while it is beautiful to see these new branches grow, what is really exciting is the fruit of SAT-7’s work: the fruit of changed lives, of hearts transformed, of hope where there was none. This is why our Audience Relations work is also receiving wholehearted investment, enabling our teams to support all the viewers who begin their journey with SAT-7 on one of these platforms.
A while ago, a friend of one of the young refugees I met through our church in Denmark contacted me from Iran. Through SAT-7 PARS, this young seeker has since connected with pastors and found answers to his questions about Christianity. This is a young man who once felt so desperate that he thought of taking his own life – now he says, “Jesus saved me.” We hear from him very often, and he shares his faith journey and the worship music that he loves. When I lay my head down at night, it is stories like this that stay with me. People meeting God, God meeting people. It is my privilege to be a part of a ministry where these meetings happen.