25 Years in Armenia and Going…

…and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

Genesis 8:4

By Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO

That was Noah entering Armenia.

We came later.

The AMAA’s first encounter with Soviet Armenia came right after the devastating December 1988 Earthquake. The nation and the world spontaneously mobilized to reach out and help. The Armenian American reaction could not have been different. It was unprecedented and overwhelming. A reaction that rose to the magnitude of the tragedy. Perhaps we all have distinct memories of that tragic day, how we heard of the killer earthquake and how we reacted.

In an interesting and obscure succession, the Earthquake was one of three pivotal events that marked Armenian history of the era. In February 1988, Nagorno Karabagh rocked the Soviet Union with a massive Armenian nationalist movement demanding self-determination for the Armenian enclave forcibly placed within Azerbaijan by Joseph Stalin. The third event was the disintegration of the Soviet Union, culminating in line with other Soviet republics with the declaration of an independent Republic of Armenia in September 1991.

Armenia had become center stage for all Armenians.

Despite the fact that we had no input in the realization of our collective dreams; despite the fact that independence confused us for awhile; we were jubilant. We had our place in the league of nations. We raised our heads in dignity and pride and saluted the tricolor. We built a nation and created a country from the ashes of the Soviet system. We bore the shock therapy of moving from a totally centralized socialist economy to a radical free capitalistic system; from an atheist system that persecuted believers to a society which created an unprecedented opportunity to resurrect the faith of our fathers in the land of a nation which embraced Christianity in 301 AD.

Armenia was surely center stage for all Armenians.

In one of his very early trips to Armenia, then AMAA Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian, reflecting on the changes witnessed in Armenia, concluded, “Armenia therefore, should top the list of our priorities and become the focal point of our missionary endeavors.”

And focal point it has been for the past 25 years.

The road has not been all that rosy as Armenia faced the challenges of tumultuous times fighting a liberation war in Artsakh (and winning), experiencing sky rocketing unemployment, extreme poverty, economic paralysis, mass migration, the rise of oligarchs and widespread corruption.

Our focal point has not shaken!

Year after year, AMAA Armenia Relief budgets have soared to new highs, human resources have multiplied. Our programs and ministries have and continue to cultivate the spirit of goodness in the individual, young or adult, raise it to its potential, anchor hope and fortify the faith. We continue to help the search for talents, inspire dreams and aspirations, encourage young discoveries and place them on a path to success. Our Sunday schools, camps and Christian Endeavor programs ‘train the child in the way he should go’ to grow up embodying the new citizen embracing the beginning of wisdom, ‘the fear of the Lord.’ AMAA ministries preach the Gospel and teach about ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ for whoever ‘will know the truth, the truth will set him free.’

September 2016