Rev. Habib Alajaji
The Rev. Habib Alajaji was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1937 into a loving Christian home, the oldest of five children born to Basil and Nartouhi (Khosrofian) Alajaji. He attended Aleppo College and grew up with the dream of taking over and expanding his father’s carpentry business. At the age of 11, with his mother’s influence, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior.
He moved to Beirut, Lebanon at the age of 19 to finish high school and attended a service where a missionary speaker gave a call to ministry. Though he felt God speaking to him, he said no. That night, he was rushed to the hospital in severe pain. When he returned to Aleppo, he had appendix surgery, but found that the cause was actually his colon. After five days, he awoke from a coma and informed his father that he was going to Bible school. Thirty-eight days later, he was moved on a stretcher, by plane, back to Beirut where he had his second unsuccessful surgery, leaving him functional but still not healed. After starting at Ebenezer Bible School, he needed a third surgery for his wound, scheduled during Easter vacation.
After surgery, his situation went from bad to worse and he became angry with God, questioning why he was not healed after committing his life to God. He stopped reading his Bible, quit praying and yet he heard a voice whispering to him, “Joseph forgave his brothers, but you can’t forgive God?” He responded to God, knowing that regardless of the outcome, he would serve Him even if it meant dying. That same afternoon, his father and his father’s friend, Samuel Pashgian (who later became Habib’s father-in-law), prayed over his open wound. They put a copy of a Christian magazine on him, prayed in faith and he was miraculously healed. An eight-month ordeal finally came to a miraculous end.
Habib finished Bible school in 1960, and served in the Evangelistic Center with Rev. Samuel Doctorian until 1970. During this time, he met and married Ruth Pashgian. In September 1970, he was ordained by the Church of the Nazarene in Beirut where he served as Pastor and later District Superintendent of the Lebanon, Syria and Jordan District. His knowledge of Armenian, English, Arabic and Turkish made him a strategic leader in the church’s Middle East efforts. In 1974, he received his Bachelor of Theology degree from the Near East School of Theology.
In 1979, the Church of the Nazarene’s World Mission department convinced Habib to leave the area until the civil war died down. They had planned to stay in the United States for six months, but Habib and Ruth and their four children moved permanently to Glendale, California where they established the first Armenian Church of the Nazarene in the United States. Habib continued his education, receiving a M.A. in Religion and a Ph.D. of Philosophy from the California Graduate School of Theology. He served in Glendale for 25 years, preaching regularly on an Armenian television channel that was televised nationwide. He also traveled to teach in Armenia and Cyprus at the European Nazarene Bible College.
After the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Lord opened the door for Habib to visit and the Lord helped him start churches in Yerevan and Gyumri, beginning the Nazarene ministry in Armenia. The Glendale Armenian Church of the Nazarene was also instrumental in starting churches in Whittier, Pasadena, and North Hollywood, California.
In 2005, he retired from full time ministry, but continued to serve the Lord, preaching and teaching in Australia, Armenia and the United States. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday and continues to serve as Pastor Emeritus in Glendale, leading a weekly Bible study.
His life verse is Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
-Excerpts taken from Dr. Dean Nelson’s “Divinely Displaced” published in Holiness Today.