Hagar is a Hebrew word meaning “one who flees” or “one who seeks refuge.” The story of Hagar and her son Ishmael, is the story of millions of exploited, trafficked, disabled and rejected women and children. It is an important story in Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities.

Hagar lived around 2000 BC, working in a foreign land as a domestic servant for a rich man called Abraham and his wife, Sarah. As Sarah was unable to have children, they followed a common practice of the time: Sarah offered her servant to Abraham. When Hagar became pregnant, however, Sarah grew jealous and cast her out of their home.

The bible says an angel of God found her hopeless, alone and crying in the desert. The angel spoke to her, promising a blessing on her child and named him Ishmael, which means “God hears.”

In response to how God sought her out in her hopelessness, Hagar declared, “You are the God who sees me.”

Hagar returned to Abraham’s household, but 14 years later, Sarah bore her own son and again, due to jealousy, forced Hagar and Ishmael to leave.

Hagar returned to the desert and wandered there without hope. Finally, when their water ran out, she placed her son under a bush and walked away to weep at a distance, as she could not bear to watch him die.

God again heard their cries. An angel of God called to Hagar and said, “Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying.”

The angel of God reminded Hagar of God’s blessing and provided a spring of water for them. They survived and prospered, and Ishmael became a great leader as God had promised.

Hagar is committed to being part of God’s blessing to the Hagar’s and Ishmael’s of this world — passionately providing a place of refuge, a message of hope and a journey of restoration for each individual.