175th Anniversary of AEC
Then your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation, we will proclaim your praise. Psalm 70:13
As I reflect on the anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Movement, I am struck by the fact that four generations of evangelical pastors from the same family continue to proclaim God’s praise! How is that possible? Aren’t pastors’ kids supposed to rebel? It is clearly all due to God’s faithfulness, demonstrated through His grace. “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5
I also attribute the passing of the torch of the Gospel to what the Psalmist says, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4 God’s goodness and our faithfulness to proclaim the Gospel surely work together in an amazing way.
My grandfather, Rev. Sisag Manoogian, served first as a Pastor in Adana, but when he was deported, God called him to serve in a variety of ways as the need was great. While in Turkey, he planted several churches, Sunday Schools and day schools. For some time, he was Secretary of YMCA for relief work. He also was invited by the American Relief Board to deliver financial relief to orphanages. So, he embarked on a series of tours of evangelism, aid, and recovery of Armenian children. I was always enthralled by the stories of his horseback ministry adventures. He was said to have planted 33 churches, the exact number of times he had escaped death at the hands of the Turkish regime! Eventually he settled with his family in Aleppo then Beirut and served in churches there.
My father, Rev. Hagop Sagherian, miraculously survived the Genocide despite near starvation, and was privileged to serve the Lord in Armenian Evangelical churches. His journey began in Tyre and in Cyprus. Later in Beirut he became Chaplain of the Christian Medical Center, the current Union head office. He also served as Associate Pastor of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, then as Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Ashrafieh.
Like my dad and grandfather, I also received my calling to the gospel ministry at an early age. I emigrated from Lebanon due to the civil war and was serving as a youth director at the Armenian Evangelical Church in Toronto when my calling became clear.
Upon completing my education in theology, I married Janine Raymond who also grew up in a pastor’s home. We have been blessed to serve the Lord in Armenian churches and schools in Fresno, at Haigazian University in Beirut, then Pasadena and currently in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As I reflect on my calling, I become aware of all those who impacted my life for eternity. The primary influencers were my parents who lived out their faith in Jesus Christ both in the community as well as at home where we witnessed their integrity. Then observing the changed lives of my brother and sisters had a huge effect on me. Witnessing their transformation pulled me away from my rebellion and drew me to the Lord. My brother, John, was instrumental in my early years of faith when he served as the Director of Youth for Christ in Lebanon, while maintaining his involvement in the Armenian Evangelical Churches in Lebanon. And my sisters, Knar and Pauline, remained active in their churches and the wider community with an effective ministry of discipling others and sharing the love of Christ in action.
The Psalmist says, “Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.” Psalm 24:6
God calls each of us whether pastors or lay people to be faithful in fulfilling our purposes on this earth, whatever they may be. We are called to be faithful to walk with the Lord and to seek Him. We are called to proclaim the Gospel to our generation as well as the next. God does not demand results from our ministry, He simply expects us to be faithful in response to what He accomplished for us on the cross.
The Psalmist says, “I will open my mouth… I will utter hidden things from of old – things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done… so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.” Psalm 78:2-4, 6-7
My son John is currently in seminary training. By God’s grace, our children will have seen our faithfulness and respond to His calling to fulfill His unique purposes for each one. And if He chooses to call them to proclaim His praise in full-time ministry, my only response would be to stand in awe of God’s amazing grace through the generations!