The contact with the believers in Yerevan came about as a result of a personal contact through my close friend and ministry partner Victor Otet from the Lord’s Army and Romanian Orthodox community in Romania.
A great deal of effort has gone into the planning of this first mission trip by Victor’s contact, Ruzanna and several local Pastors: Vahan and Hadjig. The week has been carefully structured to help me build relationships with local leaders from different denominational backgrounds; provide practical training in evangelism and discipleship to believers, and to preach the Gospel at a series of events. While a lot has been planned, the ministry is quite small in terms of numbers as the evangelical Christian community is quiet small, and so it is very much a personal work in getting to know the believers in Armenia. During this time I will have the chance to learn something about the Armenian culture, which will help me explore effective ways of sharing the Gospel with them.
Armenia has quite a striking history of Christianity, because soon after many Christians were martyred for their faith, Armenia became the world’s first officially Christian nation in 301 A.D. under King Tiridates – who was converted under the witness of St. Gregory the Illuminator. We went to see the dungeon where Gregory was held captive, near to Mount Ararat. Armenians also became the first Christians to take up arms to defend their right to worship God, less than 10 years after becoming a Christian nation when they were attacked by the Roman Empire. It was only a little later in 313 A.D. that Constantine granted freedom to Christians in the Roman Empire (in the Edict of Milan). Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire only in 380 A.D. (Edict of Thessalonica). Armenia has endured centuries of invasions, persecutions, and political fragmentation, with the more commonly known 1915-1922 genocide of 1.5 Million Armenians at the hands of the Turkish.
The current population of Armenia in 2015 is estimated at 2.989 million people, consisting of
Armenian 98.1%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.1%, other 0.7%. Country statistics reveal that the religion of Armenia is broken down as follows: Armenian Apostolic 92.6%, Evangelical 1%, other 2.4%, none 1.1%, unspecified 2.9%. While the vast percentage of the population of the country would call themselves Christian, it is evident that nominalism is widespread – hence so many people do not have a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
Earlier today we stopped along the roadside to share the Gospel with one man selling ‘Tan’, which is an Armenian Yogurt Drink. We asked the man if he was a Christian, and in a very miserable way he told us, while puffing away on his cigarette that he was baptised at the age of 4 years and so he felt he was a Christian. However, he had never repented of his sins, and through the conversation we learned that he was not a Christian at all. We shared the Gospel with him, and had the chance to pray for him – however he still looked very lost and far from God. I do pray that the man makes it to heaven. Vahan told me that this is a typical response from the Armenian people that they witness to.
Please pray that people across Armenia would start to hear the Gospel message, and find a real relationship with Jesus and be released from their spiritual prisons. Pray that Armenian believers would recapture the joy of salvation and the urgency to spread the Gospel to the unsaved. Pray for Armenia as it begins to hear the true gospel through those that preach it.
God bless you and keep on keeping on…