Glorifying GOD by serving those who
are being mistreated
An Interview with INGRID HAJEN
The Director of Women’s Ministry at The Voice of the Martyrs, a Canadian non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping, loving and encouraging persecuted Christians worldwide.
I lurched upon The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Ministry after surfing the way of the world these days, on the internet, by mere accident. It was a Christian website that I happen to stumbled upon when I took notice of a book called Tortured for Christ. The book cover was indeed eye- catching and interesting looking. Very curious at this point, as I love to read and somehow felt the urge and a strong need to read Tortured for Christ, I placed the cursor on the book and with one hasty click of the mouse, I was brought onto The Voice of the Martyrs website.
The VOM is a Canadian non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping, loving and encouraging persecuted Christians worldwide. After learning about the VOM’s organization and their great efforts to help persecuted Christians all around the world, I was greatly shocked to say the least. I was shocked by the mere fact that I had no clue that there are thousands of people, Christian people, worldwide being persecuted in this day and age all because they choose to follow our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Needless to say, I was utterly dumbfounded and at a loss for words- as a journalist and writer this does not happen often.
The one thing I remember feeling about Tortured for Christ when I first saw it was an indescribable urge, a very strong urge to help, and that urge came back to revisit me when I went onto the website. After my research I said right away, “How can I help? What can I do to help?” I now know that it was not by accident or by sheer coincidence that I stumbled upon the Christian website, it was by divine set-up. God willed it to happen and I am glad He did.
My first step towards helping the VOM was to contact their office to enquire about how I can help. This is how I came in contact with Ingrid Hajen, Director of Women’s Ministry, a component of The Voice of the Martyrs. I was able to catch up with Ingrid for an interview. She kindly and with great detail explains the wonderful Ministry of Release Women.
Please explain the Ministry of the Voice of the Martyrs?
Ingrid: (I will quote from our Newsletter). VOM is based on Hebrews 13:3. We
are here to help, love, and encourage the Persecuted Church.
Help: We help Christians who are or have been, persecuted for their involvement in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We provide medical assistance, food, clothing, and other forms of aid.
Love: We support Christians who are willing to invite their fellow men, even
their persecutors, to Jesus Christ through faithful deeds of love in a hostile
environment. We supply Bibles, literature, radios, and other evangelistic tools.
Encourage: We encourage persecuted Christians by giving their testimony a voice, informing Christians in Canada to know how to help. We believe that He lives and the testimony of persecuted Christians is a vital part of the fellowship of all believers and will challenge and strengthen the faith of Christians everywhere.
Release Women Ministry (RW), is it a component of the VOM?
Ingrid: Yes, Release Women, a ministry of The Voice of the Martyrs, seeks to connect women in Canada with persecuted women worldwide. Christian women are suffering for their witness in nations hostile to Christ. Some are incarcerated in prison cells, without their basic needs being met. Others are forced to labour under great duress. Still, many are subordinated and sexually abused, discriminated against and mistreated we serve and encourage our sisters through prayer and hands-on projects while being inspired and challenged by their testimonies of overcoming faith in the face of imprisonment, brutality and even death for Christ’s sake.
What’s RW’s mission?
Ingrid: This ministry is dedicated to connecting women in Canada with women in nations hostile to Jesus. We pray and remember our suffering sisters and their families, and as we pray for them they become part of our lives. We also share their stories in our small groups, churches, bible studies etc. Our circumstances in Canada may be very different but we can still identify with some of their hardship and pain. What is most exciting to me is the fact that we can do something small yet significant in order to directly minister to and bless our sisters in the Lord, and without leaving the country! At the moment we are working on a couple of exciting hands-on projects. For example, in a couple of months, our RW volunteer team will be Œmeeting¹ a group of sisters that defected from a hostile nation. We will actually meet ‘face to face’ using technology similar to Skype. Testimonies will be shared and scripture passages read that will show them that God loves and values women as well.
What is your involvement in this Ministry
Ingrid: I am the Director of the Women’s Ministry. I have been involved with VOM as a volunteer for over 10 years and was thrilled when an opportunity opened up to minister to our persecuted sisters specifically. Many women are oppressed and marginalized in many parts of the world but being both a Christian and a woman is doubly difficult.
How important is it to tell the world about VOM and Release Women?
Ingrid: The bible is very clear that we are one body and it tells us what we are to do when members of the body are suffering. Hebrews 13:3-4 reads, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” The author of Hebrews is exhorting the disciples to remember their fellow believers who were in prison at that time. The book is speaking to and about believers who did not abandon their faith in Jesus. Many had their properties confiscated and were thrown into prison because of their faith. This is still happening right now in many countries around the world! If we want to be true disciples of Jesus, we need to take the time to remember our fellow believers who are in prison and are suffering because they won’t deny our Lord. But how are we going to remember them and know what to pray for, if we don¹t know who they are? We can know them by reading the free monthly VOM newsletter. Each issue highlights people, countries and persecutors who need your prayers. From it we can also learn all the practical ways how we can stand with them and act on their behalf.
How do the women of the persecuted church benefit from RW ministry?
Ingrid: At RW we not only work with women in Canada to raise the profile of persecuted women but support persecuted women directly through projects. In addition to praying, we need to care practically for our sisters in bonds and for their families including the widows and orphans of martyrs (Matthew 25:32-46). VOM has special funds that minister to persecuted Christians. For example, the Underground Church Fund provides assistance and encouragement to believers in severely restricted areas. Support includes job-training centres for converts to Christianity, Bible printing and smuggling, an underground university, radio ministries, safe houses and ministries geared toward Muslim converts. While we are unable to share specifics about these ministries due to the possibility of endangering those we serve, this fund is a powerful part of our mission. The Families of Martyrs Fund provides encouragement and assistance to families left destitute by the imprisonment, death or exile of one or both parents because of their faith. The Christmas Blessing Fund provides believers in a particular restricted nation (changes year to year) with gift packages that contain food items, toiletries, medication, clothing and Christian literature. The distributions which are made throughout the year help to fulfill persecuted believers’ basic needs. In 2009 and 2010, we partnered with Seoul USA to provide more than 3,500 gift packages to believers in North Korea. In 2011, we provided packages to Christians in Iraq.
For information on other funds please go to: http://www.persecution.net/special-funds.htm
There have been many success stories, I’m sure; can you share a brief one?
Ingrid: I was sent to Colombia recently, to meet with pastors’ wives and widows and learn about their needs. I took along hand-made cards that contained notes from women in Canada to encourage them. One of the women I met and prayed with is “Natalia” (not her real name). Natalia became a part of the guerrilla movement, preparing explosives and cleaning weapons. Soon after she gave birth to her son, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that needed attention. Since Natalia could not get the help her son needed in the jungle, she requested permission from the commander to relocate to the city. The commander approved her request, but also gave her a new assignment: to recruit teenagers for the guerrilla cause and teach them how to track potential targets such as pastors, tourists and military. Some time later, while battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol, Natalia became pregnant again and gave birth to a second child. During this time, Natalia’s first born began attending church with a neighbour and heard about the return of Jesus Christ. One day her son told Natalia that he was worried about what would happen to her when the Lord returns. That night she dreamed that Christ had returned—but not for her. Troubled by her dream, she went to church and eventually received Christ. Natalia is now in hiding and learning a trade to support herself and her family. Having a safe house available to Christian such as Natalia and her kids is often the difference between life and death.
How can someone be apart of Release Women Ministry?
Ingrid: If you have a heart for the women of the Persecuted Church, the following are the various ways you can get involved with Release Women. Your involvement can easily be adjusted depending on your time and your gift and abilities. Attend a Release Women conference for a time of prayer, action and encouragement. Designed for women, the conference is free of charge and gives you the opportunity to learn about and support your sisters in chains. Pray for the ministry of Release Women. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for its leaders. Pray for the women planning and attending the conferences. Pray especially for women persecuted for their faith; pray the Lord will bless and keep them in whatever situations they face. Join the Release Women volunteer network across Canada. Organize a prayer group in your local area, help plan Release Women conferences or assist with administrative duties. In whatever capacity you volunteer, you will be supported with prayer, guidance and resources. We would be pleased to learn how your time and talents can bless Release Women and our sisters in chains.
How can the public get more information on either VOM or Release Women?
Ingrid: Please visit our website at: http://www.persecution.net/involved-rw.htm
Or call our office at 1-888-298-6423 or write us at: release firstname.lastname@example.org