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January 3, 2013

Lessons I learned from VOM

When I joined The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) as a writer, in December 2006, I was excited for an opportunity to work for an organization impacting many lives around the world. What I did not realize at the time was that I was embarking on a life-changing experience. Prior to working for the ministry I had limited knowledge of the varied scope, depth and impact of VOM's work.

As a writer, I had many responsibilities, including writing weekly prayer requests, posting profiles of imprisoned Christians on www.PrisonerAlert.com, and sharing stories of believers facing persecution on www.Persecution.com. It was evident in the weeks and months after starting the job that unlike my previous journalism jobs, the people I was meeting at VOM and the stories I was reporting would impact my life tremendously.

During my tenure at VOM, the opportunity to read about families displaced because of attacks from extremists, Christians being jailed because of their faith and heinous attacks on entire villages taught me many lessons. From seeing the persecuted believers' unwavering faith in God, despite the hardships and sometimes death they faced, I grew in my faith and saw God's comfort, protection and provision. Their testimonies displayed the power of God's love and how only through Him can we forgive those who harm us.

Some of my favorite days in the office were days we received word that an individual who'd been profiled on www.PrisonerAlert.com had been released from prison and reunited with their family in a safe location. I loved writing updates informing readers of the great news and thanking them for praying and writing letters to imprisoned believers. In some cases, we had the opportunity to receive messages of gratitude from the released believer. It was incredible to read of their gratitude to God for their release and their unwavering faith. During those days, I looked forward to going home and sharing the good news with our family.

Another opportunity I treasure from my experience at VOM was travelling to Northern Nigeria to interview widows who had lost their husbands because of attacks from Muslim extremists. I remember the interviews vividly, the visits to communities where homes and churches were burned and visiting Christians in the hospital following attacks the week before I arrived. I appreciated their willingness to share their testimonies and their example of staying focused on their relationship with Christ and relying on Him. My trip to Nigeria gave me another opportunity to see how, in spite of hardships we face, losing loved ones or whatever situation we might encounter, it does not compare to what our brothers and sisters are facing around the world. I appreciate and thank God for being able to openly profess my faith and having access to the Bible. I have a great responsibility to pray for Christians in places around the world who do not have those freedoms.

I am grateful to VOM for teaching me about persecution and to the many persecuted Christians whose stories I read and learned from about what it means to live for Christ. Even though I knew the importance and power of prayer, my experience interacting with persecuted believers was a constant reminder to pray and see God in action.

My experience at VOM is not only part of my spiritual walk with Christ, but will forever be part of my professional experience. In my current responsibility as a part-time instructor in a local university, I enjoy sharing my experiences at VOM and telling students about the many programs and opportunities VOM offers. In every class I enjoy telling my students some of the testimonies of courage and challenging them to pray. I thank God for the opportunity to serve persecuted believers and work for VOM and will always consider myself part of the VOM family.

Sibonginkosi Wenyika, MHR, Ph.D., a native of Zimbabwe, left her job at VOM to pursue her Doctoral degree from the University of Oklahoma. Today she is a wife, mother and college professor.


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