Healing after Beirut blast

The only Arabic Christian television broadcaster in Lebanon was live on air Wednesday, Aug. 5, reassuring shell-shocked viewers after an explosion in the capital Beirut killed at least 113 people and injured more than 4,000 yesterday. Satellite network SAT-7 (www.sat7usa.org) broadcast a special Arabic-language program, “Lebanon: The Pain and Hope.”

EASTON — The only Arabic Christian television broadcaster in Lebanon is airing special live programming, reassuring shell-shocked viewers after a huge explosion in the capital Beirut killed at least 113 people and injured more than 4,000 Tuesday, Aug.4.

Satellite network SAT-7 (www.sat7usa.org) reported minor damage to its Beirut studios a few miles from the blast epicenter, but continued broadcasting live Wednesday with a special Arabic-language program “Lebanon: The Pain and Hope.”

Local Christian leaders Rev. Dr. Hikmat Kashouh and Dr. Nabil Costa offered reassurance to viewers, and prayed live on air for the families of those killed in the explosion, for those who are missing, and for the injured.

“Everyone is in shock and devastated by what has happened,” said Maroun Bou Rached, the network’s director in Lebanon, as live programming continues.

The massive blast in Beirut’s port area — reportedly caused by 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse — shook the entire city and was heard by SAT-7 headquarters staff on the island of Cyprus, more than 100 miles away. The cause is still under investigation.

“We didn’t know what was happening,” said Rita El-Mounayer, the network’s International CEO based in Cyprus, who heard the explosion. “Our hearts go out to everyone in the country.”

SAT-7’s live programs will continue to provide a platform for grieving and traumatized viewers in Lebanon to find comfort and seek prayer in the aftermath of the disaster, El-Mounayer said. Since March, SAT-7 has aired more than 40 programs addressing COVID-19, and the network continues to minister to a country beset by economic collapse, hunger, and social unrest.

As thousands across Lebanon — roughly the size of Connecticut — turn to television for news and updates, SAT-7’s interactive live broadcasts have a unique role as the disaster unfolds, according to Rex Rogers, its SAT-7 USA president. SAT-7’s U.S. headquarters are in based here in Easton.

“People across Lebanon are looking to us in America and in the Middle East to stand with them in grief and in prayer in the wake of this catastrophe,” Rogers said. “Many people, including Christians, are asking: ‘Where is God? Why is he allowing this? What is happening to my country?’

“People are saying: ‘Lebanon needs a miracle’,” said Rogers. “As Christians, we offer genuine hope.”

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