Monday, November 30, 2009

Do we need to hear both sides of the story?

Last week I finished my latest video project “Indian Voices: Testimonies of the Persecuted.” The DVD documents the reasons why Christians in the Indian state of Orissa were being so brutally persecuted by militant Hindus and also the personal stories of some of those most affected by the violence. We interviewed two women whose husbands had been murdered because of their effective work as pastors in bringing Hindus to Christ and helping them grow in their new faith. We also talked with several men who have endured horrible beatings but are determined to continue their ministries. We spent several hours with young lady named Manini (picture on the right) who courageously shared how she had been beaten and doused with kerosene and now has scars all over the right side of her body as a result of that attack. Manini was also raped. However she says she has forgiven those who did to her. What an amazing young lady! Those are just some of the stories covered in the video.

By the way, it is not my intent in this blog to try and promote and sell the video but to give some context as to what I’m going to talk about. I showed “Indian Voices” to the church house group my wife and I attend on a weekly basis. After we watched the video we had some great discussion about why Christians are persecuted, some of the things the Bible tells us about persecution and what we as Christians in Canada can learn from believers who are being persecuted because of their love for Jesus.

During the discussion one of the guys in the group challenged me as to why we heard only one side of the story; that of those people who either lost loves ones or had been attacked. Why didn’t we tell the other side of the story; that of the so-called persecutors? I explained to him that we at The Voice of the Martyrs Canada do our best to ensure that the stories we put out on videos are true. Our partners in the countries we work verify the reliability of the testimonies of these persecuted Christians. To interview militant Hindus, for example, as to why they kill and rape Christians, burn down their homes and churches might be interesting (but also probably dangerous) it doesn’t change the facts of that their victims have suffered for being a follower of Jesus. Do we really need to hear from the boys and men who raped Manini, unless it was to hear how sorry they were for acting so evil?

I have a long and varied background in broadcasting, so getting both sides to a story is ingrained in me. However VOM Canada is not a news organization; we are a ministry with a set goal of bringing awareness and prayer support to our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, and doing what we can to help them. If that sounds biased, so be it. We exist to serve the Persecuted Church. As I was saying to my wife on the way home after that lively discussion and debate at the house group, the apostle Paul didn’t feel he needed to include comments from those who beat him up (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Neither do we.
VOM Canada will continue to bring credible firsthand stories and reports from our Christian family around the world. If from time to time we hear from the persecutor, that’s fine. But that’s not our focus.


Phillip said...

Well said, Greg. Thank you for your faithful reporting. Reporters are in the business of truth-telling and informing to bring awareness. Your reflection on the "lively" debate at the group meeting is meaningful on the question raised about both sides of the story. Indeed, while it is important to understand the "whys" to the "whats," as the Body of Christ, our focus must be on the faithfulness of the Body in praying for, proclaiming the grace of God and encouraging through stories of forgiveness and life in the midst of the fire of persecution. Your point is well said and I think the crux of the matter. Sorry to ramble on, occupational hazard :)
Phil Gagnon

Anonymous said...

You guys are exactly on the right track. Keep it up!