“Nothing prevents us from celebrating because joy is in our hearts,” shares a female SAT-7 TÜRK viewer, as restrictions in Turkey grow tighter and many churches remain closed for Christmas. With renewed focus on the birth of Jesus Christ, SAT-7 TÜRK helps viewers prepare for a “different” Christmas.

“We may not be able to go to churches or go outside, but there is nothing preventing us from joining the celebrations in the heavens,” says a male viewer on the SAT-7 TÜRK program World View, which recently discussed this year’s Christmas festivities.

Gulsum I., the channel’s Deputy Executive Director, explains that many viewers are responding with similar faith and resilience. “This Christmas, we are seeing people respond to the hope and joy of Christ’s birth in a very special way,” she says. “The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on Turkey. Many people have lost loved ones and the future remains uncertain, but Christmas feels like a light at the end of the tunnel, and people are ready to celebrate.”

A female caller on WorldView agrees. “We take every opportunity to celebrate,” she says. “Maybe online, maybe as a nuclear family – but nothing prevents us from celebrating because joy is in our hearts. We celebrate with praise and worship.” Gurkan Camsun, a regular guest on the women’s program Homemade, says, “Sometimes, people become so preoccupied with Christmas preparations that Jesus Christ, who should be at the centre of the celebrations, is left in a corner. But this year, things are different. We can see these restrictions as an opportunity to refocus on God.”

“We have received the most valuable gift from God.” – female viewer in Turkey

To help nurture this focus, a new five-minute devotional program called Daily Christmas: Miraculous Birth, takes viewers in Turkey on a spiritual journey through the Word of God, culminating in the Birth of Christ and in His Salvation. Additionally, through teaching, worship, and prayer, live programs including Homemade, World View, and Turning Point provide viewers a platform to connect and experience fellowship this Christmas. As many churches remain closed for in-person services, the programs are encouraging viewers to reflect on and share traditions from their own denominations, celebrating the diversity of the Christian community in Turkey.

“In the Armenian Church, we celebrate the birth of Christ on 6 January,” shares one female viewer. “The evening before, there is a church service, and at the end everyone receives a candle. With the lit candles, we go outside and celebrate the birth of Christ. Then we try to get home without blowing out our candles! We go to great lengths to prevent the light of the candle from going out, even using little lanterns. The symbolism behind this is to bring the light of Christ into our homes. This also becomes an opportunity to share the Good News with people on the streets who become curious.”

“I believe that these restrictions have led us as Christians and churches to a new appreciation of the fellowship, the traditions, and the celebrations we so often take for granted,” observes Gulsum I. “These unprecedented times are an opportunity for us to consider the meaning of these traditions, and to focus on Christ and the joy that He brings.”

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