I was talking to someone at an international ministry the other day who used the phrase, "majority world," to describe Christians in non-Western countries. This organization uses this phrase intentionally to remind themselves that more Christians can now be found in non-Western countries--they are the majority of believers in this world.
It reminded me of something that struck me during my Good Friday meditation. As I studied Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus' cross to Calvary, I saw in the notes of my ESV Bible that it was unlikely that Simon looked like Jesus. (Who, by the way, in all likelihood did not look like anything in Western art or current children's ministry curricula, either.) Cyrene was a region in North Africa with a large Jewish population. It's likely that Simon was a Jew traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover.
Cyrene comes up again in Acts 13:1 and the church at Antioch. Among those gathered to worship and fast were Simeon (who was called Niger), Lucius of Cyrene, Manean a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. What a group! Different ethnicities, different stations in life--and one former persecutor. The ESV Study Bible notes on this verse say that Niger is Latin for "black," indicating it is likely Simeon came from Africa. The Cyrenean Lucius is likely to have been, too, as he was from Northern Africa. Cyrene was the capital city of a Roman province in Libya. Manean was part of the court of Herod Antipas, who reigned in Galilee during Jesus' ministry. To be a member of the court, he was undoubtedly a close friend and probably had been brought up with him since childhood--a life of privilege. Then there was the highly educated Hebrew rabbi named Saul, who had once been a high-profile persecutor of those who followed Jesus. After Saul's missionary commissioning at Antioch, he goes into Gentile territory and is thereafter referred to by his Roman name, Paul.
That snapshot of the early church is a good reminder of the diversity found in the heart of the gospel. So often critics of Christianity say we are not honoring cultural traditions when we minister to those who are in developing nations or nations dominated by another religion. But we Americans are the ones grafted into this heritage. "Majority world" existed long before we were part of the picture. And from the start, this message of salvation and hope was intended for all the nations.