TEENAGERS FIND HOPE OF CHRIST IN NEW PROGRAM HASHTAG
SAT-7 PARS released a new live program for Farsi speaking teens called Hashtag. Parastoo, the host and producer of Hashtag, wanted to develop a teen program that was fun and educational, sharing Biblical truth that brings hope into their lives.
“We want to engage with our viewers through social media, and the content we put out there is for them. It doesn’t matter if they are Christian or another religion, everyone is on social media. So, this is how we want to stay engaged with them,” shares Parastoo.
Parastoo is a much-loved SAT-7 PARS (SAT-7’s Farsi/Persian language channel broadcasting directly into Iran and Afghanistan) presenter who has been speaking into kid’s lives for many years. She shares a story below of a boy who first heard about Christ by watching some of her older SAT-7 PARS shows as a teenager, including the previously running girl’s program A Girl’s World. A Girl’s World appealed not only to girls, but boys as well who watched the show and wanted to be a part of it. Some of the boys were asking, “Can we have a Girl’s and Boy’s World?” After two successful years of airing A Girl’s World, the program completed its run and the plans for Hashtag were laid over the next five months.
Hashtag – a catchy concept for teenagers
The name Hashtag comes from the idea that hashtags are symbols (#) used with social media to connect with different topics. Teens can associate the program Hashtag with being something fun for them to watch and interact with, while learning in the process. Parastoo comments, “In Iran, young people go through lots of difficulties and problems, and social media is one thing that they use to escape these problems and just have fun.”
Hashtag offers lots of different segments to engage audiences such as DIY (“Do It
Yourself”), Tips and Tricks, Around the World cultural lessons, and Heroes of the Bible. “We try, through Hashtag, to bring one hour of fun, educational program to [young people],” Parastoo says. She emphasizes how important it is to give young people hope, which is found in God’s Word. “I think it’s important to build the love [of God] in them because they might go through so many things that it is hard to be kind or to experience love. But we try through this program to teach them that God is with us.”
Bible-based lessons and songs
On the first episode of the program, Parastoo addressed the topic of heroes and what makes up a hero in God’s eyes. “We in the world see heroes with different eyes…but to be heroes in God’s eyes is different.” In later episodes, she’ll talk about some characters in the Bible, looking at what makes them a hero.
Each episode cover certain chapters of the Bible and viewers can read along with or listen to by audio file. Since not all viewers own a Bible, Parastoo makes sure to provide several ways they can access the Bible passages through the channel’s social media.
Worship is a part of every Hashtag episode, both opening and closing the program. The song at the end is a prayer song. “This is helpful especially for viewers who don’t know how to pray or ask us to show them how to pray,” Parastoo says. “The music helps so they remember it easily.” She remarks on how they had a similar song in the past about seven or eight years ago that worked really well for kids. “They remembered it for a long time,” she explains, “so this time we tried to make it a bit more ‘teenagey’ and we sing it every week in our program.”
One boy forever changed by watching SAT-7
Parastoo shares a digital message she received from a boy when A Girl’s World was still airing. “He used to watch our program since he was 15, but at that time it was not A Girl’s World; it was Gardener’s Garden. He was watching that program and he wrote that that was the first time he learned about Jesus, and he always remembered and wanted to be a Christian. When he became 17, he had an account on Facebook and somebody gave him the Good News there as well. Then he gave his heart to Christ, but he said I will never forget that you were involved in me knowing Christ and becoming a Christian.”
Parastoo says, “I have high hopes. I hope through Hashtag, young Persians will learn more about the Bible. I hope that they will listen, that they would read their Bible and we can help them.”
Youth are the largest portion of the population in Iran where an estimated 60% of more than 80 million are under age 30 and more than 50% are under age 25. The SAT-7 PARS channel has over 2 million viewers watching, half of whom are children and young adults under age 25.