How to Lead a Discussion about Mission and Persecution Using the Film “Silence”

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

Editor’s Note: Preparing followers of Jesus to face persecution is an aspect of discipleship. In a time when many countries actively suppress the expression of Christian faith, mission in the context of opposition is a pressing issue for us to consider. Martin Scorsese’s recent film “Silence” dramatizes the severe persecution of Catholic Christians in seventeenth-century Japan. Earlier we talked with executive producer Tyler Zacharia about the difficult questions raised by the film and their implications for Christians today. Now that the movie is available for streaming, DVD, and Blu-ray, we hope it will prompt fruitful conversation about mission in closed countries, appropriate contextualization, and faithfulness in the face of suffering.

Partner: International Mission Board

Resource Description


Martin Scorsese’s recent film Silence, adapted from the novel by Shusaku Endo, prompts deep questions about faith, mission, and suffering. Set in the seventeenth-century, the movie tells the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in search of their mentor, Father Ferreira. It is rumored that Ferreira has apostatized—renounced his faith under torture—during the terrible persecution instigated by Japanese officials seeking to eradicate Christianity from the country.

The film is a must-see for any person involved in international missions, whether as a goer, sender, or mobilizer. The film has recently been released on DVD and on streaming sites like iTunes and Amazon. So this is a great time to gather with others to discuss the critical questions raised by the movie.

Difficult questions about suffering, persecution, and mission are worth wrestling through with others as we seek to obey the Lord’s instruction to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:16–20). This post is designed to equip you with questions and Scripture references to help guide discussion as you process the film with others. If you’re planning to lead a discussion on Silence, make sure you’ve viewed it beforehand. In order for the conversation to be fruitful, everyone in the group will need to have seen the film.


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