The Rites of Spring
A quick glance around the Internet will quickly inform you of the pagan history of Easter. The Easter Bunny comes from some Nordic tale of an egg-laying hare. From the beginning of time, in myriads of cultures, an egg is the sign of new life. Many gods and goddesses of mythology have tales of rebirth among their legends. Even the very name of the celebration is often linked back to the name of a goddess. For these reasons and others, some Christians shy away from celebrating what they feel is a holiday tainted by other religions.
Easter in Persian Cultures
For Christians in Central Asia, Iran, and other Persian nations, Easter is a very special time. Before they became Christians, most Persians, like Azerbaijanis and Uzbeks enjoyed a holiday called Novruz, which we discussed last month. Many of it’s traditions relate to the coming of spring and the signs of new life in nature. The history of the holiday has many links into a number of religious traditions, but it has come to be celebrated in our times for the pure fun of it. To those brought up celebrating the signs of life of nature with Novruz, the hope of Christ has a very precious meaning.
As with much of the world, America’s commercialism is pervasive in GHM’s target countries. Our TV hosts tell us that decorated eggs, chocolate bunnies, and stuffed chicks can be found in many of their stores. Central Asians, Iranians, and others throughout the Middle East watch newscasts and movies where Americans are making a big ado about an Easter frock or the White House Easter Egg Roll. They are able to enjoy the festivities without any understanding of what Easter is. They see it as a sort of American Novruz.
However, once someone becomes a Christian, New Life means much more than fresh green leaves or the return of agriculture. Narmin, host of Sweet Conversations, our Azerbaijani Women’s Program, loves to celebrate Novruz because of the memories of friends and family it offers, but Easter has become her favorite holiday because it assures her of the hope she has found in Jesus Christ. Umida, host of Shukar Aytaman (I Am Thankful), our Uzbek Women’s Program, could not carry her Bible when she went to her home church in Uzbekistan, but now she proudly wears a cross around her neck since she has the freedom of America. For these women and for Christians everywhere, it is the cross and the empty tomb which are the true symbols of Easter, not rabbits and eggs.
No one loves hope more than those who have known hopelessness. Our viewers know what it is to live without hope. Soviet occupation squelched all religious practice. When the Russians left, Islam flooded the religious vacuum, but it did not offer hope, only rigid rules encompassing every facet of life. The Good News of Jesus Christ, offered in every program we produce, is a refreshing wind of hope, embraced by Believers–old and new–in our target countries.
Help Reap the Harvest
You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.
We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.