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Loving your enemies in the Middle East: Fact or fiction?

Terry Ascott
Courtesy of Terry Ascott

America’s attention is back on the Holy Land.

Unfortunately, many Americans seem to want to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some politicians and media outlets condemn Israel and ignore its security concerns. Other politicians and media outlets condemn the Palestinians and largely ignore the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza and the issue of land confiscations in the West Bank.

I’ve been in the Middle East for nearly 50 years. I’ve known fear. I’ve watched rockets and grenades explode around me in Beirut, Lebanon, where I used to live. All the windows in my apartment block were blown out by a car bomb. I understand why families of the innocent victims—on both sides of the Holy Land conflict—cry out for retribution.

But Jesus showed us another—far more radical—way: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, NIV).

Can you imagine preaching and living out that message in the Middle East right now, where innocent children are dying, and their parents are torn apart by grief?

Incredibly, though, this is what Middle East Christians, including Arab and Palestinian Christians, actually are doing amid the current crisis. They’re imitating Christ, showing their neighbors his radical way of love and forgiveness, even as hate and fury surrounds them on every side. I’ve documented the courageous faith of Middle East Christians in my new book, Dare to Believe! Stories of Faith from the Middle East.

Christ ‘living’ in the chaos

Through the satellite and online media ministry of SAT-7 (, a ministry God allowed me to launch exactly 25 years ago this week, this real-life drama of “forgiveness versus fury” is unfolding right now in living rooms across the Middle East.

More than 25 million regular viewers are seeing that Jesus Christ is “living in the chaos” and doing the impossible: helping people who’ve grown up with an inbuilt hatred and distrust of others to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.

Across the region, people are seeing a living miracle in front of their own eyes—regular, everyday Middle Easterners, people like themselves, imitating a “radical” who roamed the Holy Land 2,000 years ago, showing his way is more powerful than any force on earth.

Only Middle Easterners can show other Middle Easterners the “impossible” can happen; that sworn enemies can come to a place of understanding one another, praying for each other, forgiving one another, showing compassion toward each other, and—yes—even loving one another.

But it won’t happen because of any worldly logic or principles. It will happen as Christ’s own followers in the Middle East put on their “heavenly armor” and live out his radical love.

Putting on the ‘armor of God’

Right now, millions of SAT-7 viewers across the Middle East—via satellite and video-on-demand in three regional languages—are seeing that when Christians put on the spiritual “armor of God,” found in Ephesians 6:10-18, they can do the impossible.

With the Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—in hand, SAT-7’s local presenters put on:

  • The Belt of Truth, speaking the truth in love, and helping people understand others who are different from them.
  • The Shield of Faith, encouraging viewers to pray for their enemies, even though they don’t understand them.
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness, showing people that it’s right and just to show compassion and care for others, regardless of where they’re from.
  • The Helmet of Salvation, demonstrating unconditional forgiveness—as Christ forgave—toward those who persecute them.

It’s a radical, heavenly approach to conflict and pain—and the response is out of this world!

Every month, we’re hearing from tens of thousands of viewers messaging us on social media or calling our team on the phone, sharing how Middle East Christians are showing them a living hope and peace on-air they’ve never felt before.

As someone who has “lived and breathed” the Middle East throughout my lifetime, I sincerely believe that as Christians in the Middle East put on the armor of God and have their “shoes fitted with the Gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) that real, life-changing, enemy-embracing peace will come to the hearts of millions in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.

Terence “Terry” Ascott has lived in the Middle East and served as the leader for indigenous media ministries for nearly 50 years. In 1996, he launched SAT-7 ( -- the first Arabic-language, and later Farsi and Turkish, Christian satellite television channels. His remarkable experiences in the Middle East are featured in his new book, Dare to Believe! Stories of Faith from the Middle East.

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