In His Shoes
In His Shoes is an organization which rallies support for those who suffer in the world.
STANDING | WALKING | RUNNING
In His Shoes is an organization which rallies support for those who suffer in the world.
In His Shoes was created in response to acts of Genocide perpetrated against the Armenian nation in 1915. We believe those who have suffered evil have a unique responsibility to take action against injustice to others. Our actions are based on Christ’s principles of love, compassion and repaying evil with good as expressed in Armodoxy.
As tensions flare in the world and as the quest for peace needs to be resolved it is essential to find new metaphors to answer violence. In His Shoes is a unique organization because it transcends ethnic and religious differences and focuses on the only thread common to the human condition: suffering. In contrast to the political and military response to violence, In His Shoes challenges people to find the terms which define us as a human race, namely understanding and compassion.
Through its projects and programs, In His Shoes brings diverse people on the world stage into a common room with models for peaceful living. At the very least, In His Shoes sponsors programs which promote understanding among a variety of groups. On the extreme side, the highest ideals of peace and harmony are stimulated.
In His Shoes is a non-profit faith based organization. It is established on the Christian principle of repaying evil with good. Membership and participation in the organization is open to members of all religious backgrounds and persuasions.
~Fr. Vazken Movsesian
Founder of In His Shoes
In His Shoes outreach programs including physical, spiritual and emotional aid to the suffering.
The through rallies, information programs and fund raisers, In His Shoes provides a medium for expressions of compassion and love. Events are organized at the local level, by outreach to indigent members of the community, to residents of homeless shelters, hospitals and institutions, such as shelters for victims of domestic violence and children. On the larger scale, In His Shoes provides physical relief and psychological support to those in refugee camps, displaced persons and the suffering in war-torn areas of the world.
Educational programs are fundamental to the success of all outreach programs organized by In His Shoes. These educational programs take place at various venues, including virtually on the internet. The main programs to propagate the In His Shoes philosophy of peace and harmony are delivered via seminars, classes, and broadcasts. A vast library of resource material and archived teachings are available through this website.
See the “Retreats and Seminars” section for a full description of these educational programs
Madagh is a system of paying-it-forward. The word “Madagh” which literally means “sacrifice” is adapted from an Armodox tradition of thanksgiving for a goodness or kindness received. It is an opportunity for the recipient of a blessing in his/her life to acknowledge it by making a donation – monetary, physical work, time, talent – to the organization which in turn uses that donation to assist an individual or community in need. This paying-it-forward means of thanksgiving was prevalent in the early Armenian Church, since Apostolic times, and is refined today to spread faith, hope and love to a broader audience and therefore a greater number of people.
In a practical sense, In His Shoes provides meals to the homeless and indigent community on a regular basis. Partnering with Ascencia and with Promise of the Verdugos, this homeless outreach is one of the most popular programs of In His Shoes. To provide a meal contact info@InHisShoes.org
In 2015 a tragedy on the LA freeways led to the publication of this LA Times article explaining the concept of “Madagh” to the public.
After bizarre freeway sign death, a spotlight on misunderstood church tradition of ‘sacrifice’
Sako Hakopian, 69, right, and his wife, Ripsik, 65, talk about how they perform “matagh,” or offerings, as part of their faith at the Armenian Church in Glendale on Nov. 4, 2015.
Sako Hakopian, 69, right, and his wife, Ripsik, 65, talk about how they perform “matagh,” or offerings, as part of their faith at the Armenian Church in Glendale on Nov. 4, 2015. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Sako and Ripsik Hakopian stood in the pews of their Glendale church and waited for Wednesday night’s Bible study to begin. Ten years ago, they would not have considered themselves avid churchgoers.
But after their daughter, Yvette, was killed in 2008, Ripsik Hakopian felt an immediate draw to the humble Armenian church across the street from her home.
Forty days of mourning passed before Hakopian finally mustered the strength to step inside St. Peter Armenian Church, where her daughter would regularly come to light candles.
One year later, the Hakopians made their first “matagh,” or offering, through the church.
“I knelt on the altar, and I knew I had to do something,” Hakopian, 65, said as she fought tears.
The practice came to the fore earlier this week, following reports that a family had performed a lamb sacrifice days before their 20-year-old son, Richard Pananian, was killed in a traffic accident that sent his body flying onto a freeway sign.
In the case of the Hakopians, they paid for food to be donated to people on skid row and helped pass it out to homeless men and women.
That was their sacrifice.
Matagh is a tradition within the Armenian Church used to show appreciation to God for saving someone from misfortune or granting good health, or for peace for deceased loved ones, according to the church teachings.
The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia, which serves as the headquarters for the Armenian Apostolic Church, says the main purpose of the offering is “giving a gift to God and giving alms to the poor.”
Pananian’s cousin, Armen Kardashian, said the family are devout Christians and had performed matagh because Pananian had just recovered from a serious health issue. Kardashian wasn’t with his cousin’s family for the matagh and could not confirm that they had sacrificed the lamb themselves.
Although the church in Armenia describes matagh as an ancient practice that requires the sacrifice of a male animal with salt to purify the offering, experts say modern interpretations do not call for slaughtering an animal. Instead, they say, the emphasis is on “paying it forward” and giving to those in need.
“It’s not necessary to do that, the slaughter, as it says in the Old Testament,” said Mashdots Jobanian, director of Christian Education at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church.
Jobanian described matagh as the purest form of giving thanks.
Father Vazken Movsesian of St. Peter church said matagh is “not a magical incantation, and the Armenian Church does not condone that kind of thing. … We don’t sell protection.”
Movsesian said his church practices matagh once a month, and the meat they serve comes from Vons or Costco. Sometimes, he said, the matagh is a vegan meal. Families, such as the Hakopians, pay for meals and go out with other congregants to feed homeless families at a local shelter.
“Instead of bringing an animal, we ask the homeless shelter how much it would cost to feed the people,” Movsesian said.
For the Hakopians, matagh serves as a means to give back to the community after finding solace within the church, they said.
The last time Sako Hakopian saw an actual animal sacrificed as an offering was decades ago when he still lived in Iran. Ripsik said her family never made such an offering.
“In this church, we do a matagh that is more meaningful than just sacrificing an animal,” Sako Hakopian said in Persian. “A sacrifice or offering is not about what animal you kill. It is about helping others.”
For his part, Movsesian said he hasn’t seen that interpretation of the practice since he was a seminarian in Armenia in the 1970s.
But even if there were an animal sacrifice, “the actual practice is not meant as a magical protection service” like some people are interpreting it.
“It comes across that we are taking back the world to some medieval time,” he said. “And it’s not about that.”
In His Shoes is a teaching philosophy as much as a movement to bring peace. The words “In His Shoes” imply feeling the pain and suffering of others by walking in their shoes. True love comes with understanding and there is no better way of understanding the plight and suffering of another human being than when we walk in their shoes.
Education of the fundamental tenants of Armodoxy, love, peace, harmony and the In His Shoes philosophy is essential for the full experience of In His Shoes. To this end, we provide regular retreats and seminars as well as a vast library of video and audio archives. Epostle.net is the voice of the In His Shoes movement. Here, the mystical teachings inherent in Armodoxy are expounded via seminars, videos and audio broadcasts.
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Retreat – held annually in January, where the teachings of the slain civil rights leader are used to initiate dialog about non-violent change on a personal level with global applications. Themes of justice and peace are explored in a retreat setting.
- Forgiveness Conference. Established in 2005, with the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, In His Shoes put forth the challenge of forgiveness as expressed by Jesus, “Forgive not just seven times, but seven times seventy-seven times.” The 7×77 was later codified on July 7, 2007 with the first multi-tradition and discipline conference on forgiveness organized by In His Shoes. The website 7×77.org documents this historic gathering. An annual gathering to reinforce this message of harmony is part of the In His Shoes programming.
- Net broadcasts are weekly shows streamed over the internet that bring the message of faith, hope and love, as expressed through the ancient teachings of Armodoxy, to the world. The shows have large following and are heard and seen on five continents. All of these shows exist in the extensive archives of In His Shoes.
- Next Step with Fr. Vazken (audio) – now in the seventh year of broadcast is a weekly show that applies Armodoxy to current events. The show is riddled with humor, but consists of straight talk about responsibility, ethics and finding harmony.
- Sermons (audio) – these are teachings of the ancient Armenian Church for today, spoken in the Armenian and English languages.
- In Step with Christ (video) – a series of presentations about walking “In His Shoes.” Sometimes referred to as “Applied Christianity” this show spanned the course of two years and exists in archived form. Armodoxy YouTube Channel
- Armenian Christianity Today (video) – currently in production, this show takes applies Christianity to world situations and individual crises. Armodoxy YouTube Channel
- Lenten Journey (audio) – a series of meditations for the individual. There are 40 meditation in all, They consist of a thought for the times, along with lessons on applying love and forgiveness to life.
- Lessons on Healing (audio) – a series of meditation on spiritual healing, from the illnesses that prevent us from maximizing our potential to the diseases that plague our collective reality, these shows present step-by-step means for healing.
- Inside the Pomegranate (audio) – a series of written and verbalized podcasts that are topic driven, mainly about the plight of the suffering in the world, interspersed with first-hand experiences.
- Armodoxy Blog (written) – personal reflections of In His Shoes in action