Interview taken from here:
Creative Arts for the Persecuted Church [The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals]
Creative Arts for the Persecuted Church
The following is an interview with Heidi Zartman who has recently started an internet business selling beautiful greeting cards. The unique feature of this business is that the profits are raised to help the persecuted church. The interview was conducted by Carolynne Waddington. We are encouraged by this kind of outreach and wanted a larger audience to know about it.
1.Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a stay at home wife, married twelve plus years to my increasingly dear husband Ruben. I’m a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, which I’ve been attending since I was 13 years old — I was married in this church by our present minister. I grew up in a Christian family, for which I am deeply thankful, but did not really come to know and love the Lord until I was a teenager; and it was very evident in the circumstances by which He drew me again after I rebelled against Him, that He loved and knew me first.
2. What is the persecuted church?
When we speak of the persecuted church, we are generally referring to the body of Christ in circumstances where it is dangerous to confess His name. This is what I mean when I use that term on my website. Christians in many countries face serious consequences for their profession of faith — social ostracism, fines, loss of employment, loss of their homes, their well being, their freedom, their dignity, their loved ones, their lives. They often do not have the same freedoms we do to meet and encourage one another in worship.
My profession of faith unites me to these Christians, in uniting me to Christ. We are one body in the Lord. He is our tie. I cannot be part of His body without becoming a partaker of their witness and of their sufferings.
John Calvin said that God designs not to deal with his church ‘too delicately’ in her earthly condition. All of us, as we are in Christ, will experience tribulation in some form; and we are always to be seeking to love and minister to one another’s need — this is one of the ways the world identifies us as belonging to Christ (John 13:35). But we are called to especially consider and support those suffering hostility for their faith (Hebrews 13:3).
3.How did you become interested in helping the persecuted church?
My earliest encounter with the persecuted church was as a little girl, reading a book written by a former member of the KGB who had been converted to Christ. I remember a section in which they disrupted a baptism and stripped the women, extinguishing their cigarettes in these womens’ bodies. I felt so ill I could scarcely function for some time. I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen to those who were calling on Him to save them, who were identifying with His name.
As I have grown older, my consciousness of the suffering of my family in Christ has not diminished, but it has been contextualised in various ways. One is that the world is full of suffering, it has always been full of suffering since the fall of Adam, and God’s people are not called to be a witness by being spared this devastating experience. Another thing I have become aware of is the beautiful progression of Hebrews 11. It begins with the examples of people who altered their circumstances by faith, and without any warning it suddenly transitions at the height of its eloquence to people whose circumstances were not altered, and who seem to have been, in earthly terms, destroyed by their circumstances. The focus is changed from the miracles that were performed by believing to the miracle of belief itself in the face of everything. This is the victory Christ gives His own. This is the witness the world really needs.
The most important change in my context for the suffering of believers is an increasing consciousness of the earthly suffering of Christ, and how sharing His experience is the only life worth living here.
My husband and I experienced, in a small way, the loss of a home due to violence last year. We were advised by the police to immediately vacate our first home after a break-in in which a knife was left in our wall. We’ve been able to stay with my wonderful family while our own lives have been disrupted. We need our families for practical support when our circumstances fall apart. And we in free countries and more prosperous circumstances are the family for the persecuted church.
4.Tell us about your cards and your website.
The cards sold through October Wednesday are handmade. Most of the pictures are of the beautiful back yard of the home we lost; and that seems appropriate. Some of them are from other travels. The texts are from figures throughout church history. I hope the images of God’s work in creation and the texts will serve to cheer and comfort other people, as they have me.
The store website is: http://www.octoberwednesday.com
5.How do your cards help our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church?
Net profits (minus the cost of materials, postage, transaction and website fees, and taxes) from the cards go to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Every time a card is purchased through October Wednesday, at least half the purchase price will go directly to donation. Presently the cards are priced at 3.00 each with free shipping included, and 1.50 of that will go directly to donation. Whatever profits remain when I do taxes and come up with a statement will then be donated.
But this effort would not be possible without ministries like that of the Middle East Reformed Fellowship. The Middle East Reformed Fellowship provides literature and radio broadcasts, training, and diaconal aid to believers and churches throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. I am not officially affiliated with them, but I did contact one of their representatives when starting the business, and he verified that all funds could be donated through their diaconal aid program, earmarked for the needs of those suffering for their faith.
The Middle East Reformed Fellowship’s website is: http://www.merf.org/ There is a link as you scroll down on the left to sign up to receive MERF news. This helps us to know better how to pray for the work they are engaged in and the Christians they are ministering to, and I am also very grateful for that aspect of their ministry.