Hagar’s Sisters started in 2003, when six women from a single congregation realized they all had restraining orders or were in the process of divorcing abusive husbands; many of the husbands were professing Christians. They met to learn about abuse, to encourage and support each other to honor God in light of the abuse they experienced, and to seek God’s will for their lives and marriages. In short, they sought healing in their own lives.
In those early days, a guest speaker shared the story of Hagar (below)– of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Abram and Sarai – and how God saw her and rescued her in her time of need. Soon after the name Hagar’s Sisters was chosen.
By 2007 the organization had grown dramatically. That year the organization became a fulltime, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.
Hagar and the God Who Sees - Jehovah, El Shaddai, Adonai … of all the names of God, there is only one that He did not give Himself – El Roi, which means the God who sees.
At a time when women were second-class citizens, who would have imagined that a female slave would have the privilege of naming God? What unconventional event could have led to such a significant moment?
Genesis Chapter 16 tells of the Egyptian slave Hagar, who was given to Abram by his barren wife Sarai in the hope that she would produce a child for them. But when Hagar became pregnant, Sarai felt disrespected by her servant and complained to Abram, who returned Hagar to her mistress saying, “Your servant is in your hands, do with her whatever you think best.” Verse 6 continues: ‘Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her’ (Gen 16:6).
An angel of the Lord found Hagar, alone and pregnant, in the desert. After instructing her to return to Sarai and submit to her, the angel gave Hagar God’s promise: ‘I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count’ (Gen 16:10). This promise guaranteed a future for Hagar and her family at a time when Hagar had nothing — no kin, no home, no hope. How wonderful that a lowly slave, dispensable to her master and mistress, was seen and saved by God Almighty! Humbled and honored by the Lord’s care and provision, Hagar called Him “El Roi” – the God who sees me.
Hagar returned to Sarai and gave birth to her son, Ishmael. A few years later Sarai also gave birth to her own son, Isaac, but she remained jealous of Hagar and Ishmael. Eventually, Abram turned Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert. When their water ran out, Hagar placed Ishmael under a bush then moved away so she would not have to watch him die.
Then she began to cry. But God is faithful — once again He saw and saved: God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation” (Gen 21: 17-18). Once again God cared and provided for Hagar. Once again Hagar had the assurance of knowing that she was seen and saved.
Many people find it difficult to imagine a situation so terrible that a pregnant woman would flee from her home with no plan for shelter, provision, or protection. But for those who have experienced abuse, leaving everything as you run in fear is an all-too familiar story. Like Hagar, victims of domestic violence have been emotionally, physically, sexually, financially, and spiritually abused. God sees and saves those who are being abused. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, Hagar’s Sisters can help.