International (MNN) – Today, Christianity is often associated with the West. This association causes tension and increases challenges for Christians living in countries who may not get along with or like the West. This means persecuted Christians in places like the Middle East or Asia are sometimes disqualified as a proper citizen because of their Christian faith. Oftentimes, this leads to persecution.
Christianity: from the West or East?
However, Denise Godwin, president of International Media Ministries (IMM), says the idea of Christianity as a Western religion is a 21st-century concept. Historically, Christianity was exported to the West from the Middle East.
“The seven churches of Revelation were in Turkey. And of course, the church began in Antioch and in Israel. You just see all kinds of things in the Middle East, if you look at history, but it’s not currently able to operate as openly there,” Godwin says.
In more recent history, Europe was the major missions-sending continent. Today, Godwin says that the African continent is one of the big contenders in sending missionaries abroad. The Christian Post backs up this claim and even includes Asia in the running. Read more on the topic here.
“Often these people can get into the Middle East or North Africa more easily than a Western person,” Godwin says.
“Christ really is for everyone. It’s coming from different directions, but the media has given us the impression that it’s just a Western religion.”
This impression has Christians across the globe caught in political crosshairs and facing persecution from their governments. But this persecution is not new; history is actually repeating itself. An advantage of this repetition—a plethora of early church leaders who faced similar circumstances and left examples of how to manage.
Persecuted Church Encouraged
IMM creates videos to share in hard-to-reach regions. One of the stories the organization has in progress portrays persecution and Christian martyrdom in the third century. Godwin explains how, during this time, leaders had laws that argued Christianity was bad for the culture. But Christians in these regions paid their taxes and prayed for their leaders. These Christians were not causing problems, yet these laws were enforced.
“I see history repeating itself, again, in the pattern of persecution,” Godwin says. “But, when individuals boil it down, they think, ‘Well, my neighbors not that bad. They’re not harming me’. The persecution doesn’t always resonate with even the people who have joined forces. But, the government, the powers and principalities of the era feel threatened by Christianity when it begins to get momentum in different places, whether it’s legal or illegal.”
IMM is bringing to life a narrative illustrating her point through the story of Cyprian. Cyprian was a persecuted Christian in the third century who experience two exiles. Still, he refused to deny Christ. His faith grew influential as he wrote letters to the Church. His letters combated persecution and the notion Christians were poor citizens. Today, Christians have this similar opportunity to speak truth.
Walking With the Persecuted
Will you help IMM speak truth in today’s world?
Help first and foremost by praying. Godwin asks for prayers while they create and finish videos. Pray against the things which would hinder IMM’s work and for IMM’s protection. Pray for IMM’s strength in times of hardship and for the strength and resources to continue telling God’s stories. Ask God to use these stories to bring hope, strength, and excitement for Christ to Christians and non-Christians.
Another way to support IMM’s work is through a financial gift. To learn more about giving, click here.
Header photo courtesy of International Media Ministries.