We recently caught up with John Wilson, Executive Director of Voice of the Martyrs Australia, to give you an exclusive insight into our safe house ministry.
It’s a dangerous ministry that requires a high level of security to protect believers who carry emotional and physical scars from persecution. They need the love and spiritual maturity of trained carers to support and guide them as they come to terms with what has happened and plan for the future.
Q: Why are safe houses necessary in some restricted nations?
There is a cry for help from Christian leaders in many Islamic nations today. They are asking for places of refuge to hide and protect persecuted believers whose lives are threatened because of Christ.
Many Muslim background believers are evicted from their homes and threatened by their families because they proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. These believers fear for their lives and often have nowhere to go. They urgently need a safe place where they can be protected and begin to rebuild their lives.
Q: How is Voice of the Martyrs supporting persecuted Christians in need of refuge?
Voice of the Martyrs Australia is supporting six safe houses in the Middle East and South East Asia. Each safe house is fully furnished and run by Christian carers who live on site and devote their full time to supporting the believers at the refuge.
They provide discipleship, encouragement, role modelling and counselling. They also assist the believers in making the transition to a more permanent living situation, helping them find employment, a safe place to live, and connecting them with a local Christian fellowship.
We have seen broken lives changed by the sensitive and compassionate ministry of our safe house carers. The results are amazing and extremely rewarding.
Q: Can you tell us about one Christian you have met in a safe house supported by VOM?
I remember interviewing a Christian sister who said her husband, a pastor, went missing.
She reported his disappearance to the local police and they told her to report daily to look at the morgue photo records of men who had died. So each day, this dear sister went to the police station to look through the photos, with a growing suspicion that the whole thing was a trap and she may be in danger.
After a week, as she was going through the photos, she saw what she had been dreading ‘ an image of her husband’s battered face. It was obvious he had been tortured. She paused, and the supervising officer pointed to the photo.
‘Is this your husband?’ he asked.
Realising the potential danger to her house church brethren, she forced herself to keep a blank expression and said, ‘I don’t think so.’
Then she turned the page, holding her grief inside so she wouldn’t alert the authorities to interrogate her. Later, she returned home to tell her children that their father had gone to be with Jesus.
Q: How can we pray for persecuted Christians taking refuge in safe houses?
Please pray that these persecuted believers with traumatic backgrounds may feel the compassion of Christ. Pray that God will heal their inner wounds in His timing and that their faith will begin to rise like eagles and they will be restored again into an intimate relationship with Christ.
Pray that bonds of trust develop between the safe house carers and the persecuted believers in their care. Pray that God will grant the carers insight and wisdom with their counsel.
Above all may our Lord be glorified in this ministry!