Roma Downey, Mark Burnett Underline Women's Roles in the Church and the Ongoing Persecution of Christians in 'A.D. – The Bible Continues'

A scene from the new NBC series, "A.D.: The Bible Continues," which airs on 12 consecutive Sundays beginning Easter weekend 2015. | (Photo by: Joe Alblas/LightWorkers Media/NBC)

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are bringing women in the Bible to life while shedding light on the persecution of Christians both past and present with "A.D. – The Bible Continues."

The follow-up to "The Bible" premieres on NBC this Sunday, April 5, chronicling the birth of the early church. Based on the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts, "A.D." explores the aftermath of Christ's death and its impact on early Christians, including the persecution of Jesus' disciples and his mother, Mary. Furthermore, the mini-series reveals the significance of women during Biblical times, according to Downey.

"That was important to us - so often history written by men, about men, and you look at these scenes and you think, 'Where are the women,'" the series co-producer told The Christian Post. "You wonder, 'What were the women doing?' Each episode, we would approach it with that in mind."

Downey, who produced "A.D." alongside husband Burnett, went on to point out that Jesus first appeared before Mary Magdalene after the resurrection, as depicted in the mini-series.

"The women were there, they are just as key and important, as highlighted in the first episode when it was to a woman that Jesus first appeared," the actress explained. "As a woman, she was honored that it was to her he first showed up."

With women's equal pay rights and compensation discrimination making headlines today, Downey also noted, "Women have a very important place in this story, as women have a very important place in society, and women have a very important place in our church."

In addition to drawing parallels between women in the Bible to women today, "A.D." also portrays the persecution of Christians – an injustice that still goes on around the world now. Following his wife's observations of women's past and present roles, Burnett cited that first century Christian apostles can be traced to Iraq, where over 125K Christians are being forced from their homes today.

"[Persecution] has not changed in certain areas," the producer said.

Impassioned by the persecution of Christians both in history as well as the violence against believers that continues today, Burnett noted the key role the media plays in exposing the unfairness before comparing the Apostle Paul to a modern evangelist.

"Media is really important, and I always think, the Apostle Paul was an aggressive guy - he did more than almost anybody to spread the word," the producer told CP. "If he were here today, he would be using the media. He would be using the Internet, TV film, news story, Twitter."

The "Shark Tank" producer also referred to a recent "60 Minutes" episode on CBS; "Iraq's Christians Persecuted by ISIS," reminding American Christians of the thousands of Iraqi Christians being driven from their homeland of nearly 2,000 years because of ISIS threats and violence.

"I think the most important thing is that the Christian community rallies around protecting the earliest places that Christianity flourished," Burnett added. "There were books written in year 500 destroyed in the last few weeks. What's going on right now? It's very similar to early centuries."

Meanwhile, "A.D. – The Bible Continues" premieres on Sunday, April 5 where it will run for 12 consecutive Sundays on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. Watch a trailer for the series here.

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