You Are Called to be Light

We started our day 7 at AMAA’s Sheen Shoghig Camp in Hankavan by our daily morning devotion led by Rev. Serop. The staff and the leaders of the Camp also joined us. Badveli Serop’s topic was “How we are called to be the light of the world” based on Jesus’ command, “You are the light of the world” – Matthew 5:14 and Psalm 27.

Rev. Serop talked about how we can’t be THE LIGHT without Jesus. He compared our lives before finding Jesus to be like a dark tunnel, surrounded by the darkness of the world. But after finding Jesus we get illumined and become His LIGHT to our surrounding. He challenged us that our life should show the light of Jesus.
Before our Breakfast with the campers we joined them in their morning exercises.

Later in the morning we headed to Lake Sevan where were we got surprised by Rev. Serop and Dr. Alina by a tour on a boat. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the wonderful Armenian music.

Later we climbed up to the Sevanavank monastery, where Rev. Serop told us the history of the monastery. We prayed together in the church and then sang the Der Voghormia sharagan.

On our way to Dilijan Rev. Serop and Digin Alina surprised us once again. They served us an Armenian Kavari Bakhlava on the occasion of their 22nd wedding anniversary.

In Dilijan we visited the Evangelical Church of Armenia and the AMAA offices and met with the Pastor of the Church, Rev. Karnig Tootikian. Rev. Karnig told us the story of how it was first built in the year 2000 through the help of AMAA. He also briefly explained how AMAA helped 90 children to be sponsored by families from U.S. and France through the Child Sponsorship Program. He mentioned that because Dilijan is a touristic place, the life is more expensive and life is harder for the local people. After a long discussion we toured the building, visited the offices and got acquainted with the different ministries of the Church. Our visit concluded with a delicious lunch prepared by Rev. Tootikian’s family along with some Church members.

The third place that we visited was Haghardzin Monastery. There, also, Badveli Serop spoke about the history of the church, then we said our prayers in the Church and sang Der Voghormia Sharagan.

After our very long day, we returned to Hankavan and joined the campers for dinner. During the evening Worship Service and Program, the leaders surprised Rev. Serop and Digin Alina with a fun celebration of their 22 wedding anniversary. Both were in tears and very happy and thankful.

After a long day we sat down with Rev. Serop and Digin Alina and shared our thoughts about the day and what we learned and experienced.

It was very nice to hear everyone’s thoughts and experiences in Camp Hankavan. All the interns were so thankful to the leaders and the AMAA for this opportunity.
Please continue to pray for us.

Zarmig Tashjian and Serly Purzekian

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We Are Called for Mission

We started our Day 6 by our daily morning devotion led by Digin Alina. Her topic was “Jesus reached out to everyone in need” based on Luke 9:6: “And they departed and went through the Villages preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” Digin Alina focused on how Jesus reached to the People who were in need – He healed the sick, He lifted up the poor, He fed the hungry. He also reached out to People’s hearts by His Word. In the Bible we see how Jesus’ disciples preached and spread Christianity. Digin Alina concluded her devotional stressing that always there is someone who needs us and to remember that the successful leaders are those who reach out to people. Therefore we are called for mission.

Our first visit of the day was Armenia Tree Project (ATP) in Ardashad. Our first impression was a huge deserted land that ATP wanted to convert to a Park in 25 years, with a possibility that the region will be populated around the park.
We planted nine trees hoping that they will survive and grow, thinking about the good things we can do for the future of others.

We learned that in 2016 five million trees were planted, and to date the ATP has planted a total of six million trees. We also visited the ATP’s nursery and learned from the gardener “Dikran the small” about the varieties of trees – some for decoration, others for fruit and shrubs. We tasted some of the fruits from the trees like apricot, apples and others. At the end of the tour we enjoyed a snack prepared with tomatoes, cheese, lavash, and other organic foods and fruits from ATP’s farm.

Our second place to visit for the day was AMAA’s CAMP SHEEN SHOGHIG in Hankavan. Rev. Serop talked about the ministry of the Camp and how AMAA supports and helps the Camp and the campers. 12n

At the camp we split up and joined a group of kids individually for the rest of the afternoon. The kids were very warm and welcoming. They were very interested about us and kept asking questions. We went through three activities with them: Outdoor Games, Indoor Games about their vision, and Arts & Crafts. Our dinner for the day was with the campers in their Dining hall.

Later we sat with the kids during their evening Worship Service and Program – each of us with the group that we were with, in the afternoon. The Program was very well planned, well scripted, and very intuitive. It was interesting to see how well the kids behaved and participated with enthusiasm and pride. At bed time we went to their bedrooms to see the dorm room facilities. The kids offered us slippers, food, and a place to sit. We saw how they took turns to wash their feet and head, and say their prayers before going to bed. They kept asking us questions while they were in their beds until it was time to say good night.

After spending the whole afternoon with these kids, at 11:00 pm we sat with Badveli Serop and talked about what we experienced during the day and how we were all touched. We reflected on the dedication of the camp counselors and how well behaved and respectful the campers were – big hearted, sweet, and kind and the most of all dedicated to God.

Indeed, we know that God is working in us and through us. Please continue to pray for us and our mission

Alicia Minasian, Mariano Gongora & Avedis Zeitounilian

Planning is Starting Point of any Goal

We started our day 5 with a devotion led by Digin Alina. Her topic was “planning is starting point of any goal,” based on Habakuk 2:2 “The Lord Says: Write the vision and make it plain.” She focused on planning to complete our mission and how it is important to plan. We need to write down our goals with a list of actions. She discussed the reasons why we avoid planning and she spoke how Jesus taught us about the importance of planning in Luke 14: 28-31.

After a delicious breakfast we left our AMAA center we headed to GEGHARD Monastery and GARNI temple. On our way we stopped at CHARENTS Gamar (Arch). Rev. Serop spoke about our poet Yeghishé Charents and from the Arch we enjoyed the amazing view of Ararat. We also enjoyed listening to a wonderful singing of a cappella group.

At Geghard Monastery. We were astonished how our ancestors built the church and how they chipped away the rocks to turn it into a church. Badveli Serop told us the history of the Monastery and led us to sing “Der Voghormia” after which he offered a prayer. Most of us got tears in our eyes and chills as we sang the sharagan in the marvelous monastery; even people around us were in tears after Badveli’s prayer. It was surprise for us when Rev. Serop led us to an Armenian Shourch Bar (dance) and Digin Alina served us a local home-made delicious Gata (sweet bread) of Geghard.

We had our lunch at “Garni Doun” restaurant where they served us delicious traditional Armenian food. The view from the restaurant was beautiful. Then we headed to GARNI Temple. We walked around the Temple and saw an old, destroyed church beside the temple. Rev. Serop told us about the temple, as well, about the church and offered a prayer.

Our last stop was at AMAA’s Shogh Day Center in Yerevan. We learned about the statistics of the Center. There are five Shogh Centers in Armenia, and 76 children in this Yerevan Shogh Center. Some of the traumas the children have gone through include physical, sociological, mental and sexual abuse. Hearing about the traumas the children have dealt with, made us feel horribly and deeply sad for the children. Shogh Centers try their best to work with parents to help kids socialize and overcome any mental issues from their trauma. The fathers are either absent in the children’s lives, or say they don’t have time to come to meetings. We were deeply touched by the work the teachers, psychiatrists, and therapists do to change these children’s lives. Marvelous ministry.

Our Dinner was at AMAA Center where we were treated to a delicious dolma. The ladies had worked hard spent a lot of time preparing the dolma for us to enjoy. It was very fruitful and blessed day. Thanks for your prayers.

Sarin Tashjian and Karni Purzekian

A Vision from the Lord Creates a Mission from Heaven

Day 4 morning devotion was very special. Interns woke up at 5:30 am and along with Rev. Serop and Dr. Alina walked all the way toward the Cascade Complex, and went up the 550 steps, reaching the highest point from where the whole city of Yerevan and Mount Ararat could be seen. It was a unique place. We had our morning devotion there led by Dr. Alina. Her focus was on Proverbs 29:18 “When there is no vision the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” She stressed about the importance of acquiring true Godly vision as to have a meaningful and purposeful life. She concluded: “A vision from the Lord creates a mission from heaven”.

We then headed back to the AMAA Center for our breakfast and hopped in the buses to go to Khor Virap. Rev. Serop reminded us about our history and after singing “Der Voghormia” sharagan, he oferred a prayer in the Church and we had the chance to witness all what we heard or read in books going back to the story of how Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion. Then we visited the place where Krikor Lousavorich was prisoned in a dungeon for almost 14 years.
After being amazed by one of the most important places to visit in Armenia, it was time to visit AMAA offices and Armenian Evangelical Churches outside Yerevan. First we visited the church and AMAA office in Artashat, where the pastor, Rev. Hrant Badalyan welcomed us, talked about the Church’s life and invited us to the Church’s generous table to have a typical and lovingly made Armenian lunch and desserts.

Afterwards we took off towards the church and office of Aintab, where we learned from Rev. Gagik Hovhannisyan about the establishment and ministry of the Church and we discussed with him the challenges of the youth in Aintab church around a table full of delicious snacks and fruits. At the end Rev. Serop prayed for both churches and communities and we were glad to know and pray about the common challenges the AMAA and the Evangelical Churches of Armenia nowadays face.


Here, we thought our program of the day ended. However Rev. Serop surprised us. He had arranged a formal visit with the newly appointed Republic of Armenia’s Chief Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan at his office. Mr. Sinanyan welcomed us warmly. Rev. Serop talked about our Internship Program in Armenia and later we had a chance to ask him about certain topics and challenges concerning the Armenia-Diaspora relationship. As members of Diaspora we were encouraged to hear about the beginning of several projects that aim at providing us a future in our beloved Armenia.

Finally after a long day, according to our program we went out for dinner to a very famous Greek restaurant in Yerevan called Mr. Gyros.

Later we had free walking time before we head back to our center (BEDS).

George Alsahili & Jack Mousa Oghli

Getting Acquainted with the Mission of AMAA in Armenia

We started our day off with a devotional, led by Rev. Hovhannes Hovsepian, Associate Pastor of the Evangelical Church of Armenia in Yerevan. He focused on John 1:1-4. He talked about testimonies, how we should write them and what we should focus on. He gave three main points: Who you were before, how you found Christ, and who you are after accepting Christ.

After breakfast, we joined the staff of AMAA for their daily devotion. After the meeting, we toured of the AMAA Center and Harout Nercessian, AMAA Representative in Armenia introduced to us all the staff the Center. We learned about the work of different departments such as the Accounting Department, the Sponsorship Department, the Media Center and other Programs such as the Christmas Joy Program, Armenian Children’s Milk Fund, Avedisian School and the Shogh Day Centers. We saw how important cooperation is for a team for things to run smoothly, and how much work and time is put into these missions for those in need of our help.

Rev. Hovsepian talked in detail about the Evangelical Church of Armenia (ECA) and their ministries, such as the Sunday school, Ladies Auxiliary, youth, camps…. In one word we were mesmerized.

After these introductions, Rev. Serop prayed specifically for AMAA and ECA ministries.

After our tour of the AMAA building, we went to AVEDISIAN SCHOOL. On our way to the school, in the bus, we all had a great time singing Armenian patriotic songs such as Kedashen, Artyok Ovker En, and Yerevan Erebuni. When we got to Avedisian School, we learned that the benefactor of the School is Edward Avedisian who helped AMAA to establish the School in the name of his parents Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian, and it was the first certified green building in Armenia. We toured the huge School building and were mesmerized by its modern classrooms and other departments. We also met the School Principal Melanya Geghamyan, who told us the story about how the School was established. We all left wishing we could attend this school, because of its unique classes and beautiful building.

After lunch we went to TUMO center for creative technologies. TUMO is a free of charge digital media learning center in Yerevan that was established in 2011. We were amazed by the variety of learning targets organized around four focus areas: Animation, Game development, Web development and digital media. We all left wishing we would be able to attend this Center.

Soon enough, evening came and it was finally time for dinner. We headed to DASHIR PIZZA, a very famous pizzeria in Yerevan, where we enjoyed great pizza, had great discussions and laughed more than we had in our entire lives.

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At DASHIR PIZZA

We have truly become a close, tight knit group and we enjoy spending our time together during our mission work and sightseeing.

We thank you for all your prayers for our group, and we continue to pray that we will continue to have a fruitful time of fellowship and service.

Talar Sarmazian and James Bederian.

Interns First Sunday in Yerevan

We started off our day with breakfast and a devotion led by Dr. Alina Megerditchian. The theme was the importance of creating and sustaining strong habits after the example of Jesus, who set a regular time of prayer, devotion and worship in His daily life.

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Interns early and ready for Sunday morning Worship Service at the Evangelical Church of Armenia in Yerevan.

We then got ready for the Sunday Worship Service at the Evangelical Church of Armenia in Yerevan. The Sanctuary was fully packed. Rev. Serop Megerditchian preached God’s Word based on Matthew 11:28-30. His central point was: Where do we look in times of trouble? If we look at ourselves, we will be hopeless and frustrated by our weaknesses. If we look to others to fill that God-shaped hole inside of us, we will be disappointed. It is only when we look to Jesus and face trials head on, then we will experience His peace and victory. Always keeping in mind that the black clouds, sooner or later, will not stay here forever, the sun will break through.

After church, we gathered at the AMAA Center for lunch. The opening prayer was led by Mariano, our native Argentinian brother (non-Armenian), and of course, in Armenian! It was an encouraging time. During lunch, we all shared our experiences and what we learned and appreciated most during the two past days. An intern shared how it was the first time, that today, he was having communion in the Church. It was a moving and a timely experience, where for the first time, he had actually understood the real meaning of sharing Christ’s body and blood. Somebody else shared how he felt the group making an impact wherever we visited (mostly due to our t-shirts and caps). Mrs. Alina shared and added that while our t-shirts attract people, in the same way, our manner of life or lifestyle should attract people to Christ. As the apostle Paul says in Romans 13:14, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We then headed to the local markets called VERNISSAGE, where we dispersed and learned the art of bargaining!

After a heavy rain, we headed to TOUMANYAN SHAWERMA and ended our evening peacefully in the newly established park of the city.

To end with Rev. Serop’s words: “It’s as if the group has known each other for the past 20 years!” Please keep on praying that the group would continue its strong fellowship and learning and that through this group, many others would be blessed.

Hovig Bardakjian and Vahé Jebejian

We have a “Vision for Mission”

After traveling from USA, Canada, Australia, Argentina, France, Switzerland, Syria and Lebanon, the interns settled in the AMAA’s Baghramyan Center in Yerevan. The leaders of this year’s Internship Program are Rev. Serop Megerditchian and his wife Dr. Alina Megerditchian. Our first day began at 8:00 am. We gathered for morning devotion and prayer where all the seventeen interns met each other for the first time, wearing the vortan garmir (a red color) t-shirts. Vortan garmir dyes are made from red beetles/worms that are specific in certain areas of Armenia and the color never fades away. I quickly thought of our Armenian blood. Like that red color, our culture, strength, and dedication to our roots never fades away. We discussed what the intention of this trip was with serious moments and then moments where we laughed at Rev. Megerditchian’s jokes. It foreshadowed that this trip will be both fun and educational.
Although the interns traveled from all over the world, it seemed majority grew up together and for those who did not know the others, the room quickly filled with newly gained friendships. That is what happens when you have love in your heart because as Christians, we know, as Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31.

Home-made traditional Armenian breakfast was served, then off we went to our first destination YERABLUR – the Military Memorial Cemetery, accompanied by Rev. Hovhannes Hovsepian, Associate Pastor of the Evangelical Church of Armenia in Yeravan. We learned that the Church at YERABLUR is in the shape of a bullet and prayed for the heroic soldiers whose lives were cut short during the Nagorno-Karabagh War. These young men died fighting the Azerbaijani enemies who tried to take over our territory. Here we are living life while others are fighting to keep us safe and alive.

Next, we visited the TSITSERNAKABERD – the Armenian Genocide Memorial, where we laid flowers for the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915. Rev. Megerditchian prayed and we were reminded that we cannot take God and life for granted. We are so blessed to have the opportunities we have today because of our Lord, the lives lost for us, our families, and those who believe in us. Seeing the proof inside the Genocide Museum deepened the emotions even more.

Morning turned into afternoon and it was time for lunch at LAHMAJOUN. We walked in hungry and after several pieces of lahmajoun and tan, we left with full poreegs. The group filled the restaurant with praise songs, thanking the preparers of our food for the delicious meal. I have never had tastier Lahmajoon. Tzerkernout Talar!

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Eating Lahmajoun at “LAHMAJOUN”

The world’s largest repository of manuscripts, founded by the creator of the Armenian Alphabet, Mesrob Mashdots, was next on today’s itinerary. We walked through the MADENATARAN, where we were amazed by all of the evidence collected regarding the spiritual evidence of the past. There were even manuscripts during the Armenian Genocide! It is incredible that these ancient artifacts are preserved or recreated to bring out difficult to read literature. Our guide was filled with enthusiasm as she told us about each artifact. What is nice too is that each year, they get new pieces to display so there is always something different to see.

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At the water fountain outside the Madenataran

The hot day called for fresh fountain water just outside of the Madenataran. Having more than enough water bottles, we chose to refill water into our empty bottles. This simple action brought laughter to the group as some played with the water levels, challenging those who were holding the bottles.

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Vision for Mission

We walked back to Baghramyan Center where naps were needed before dinner and the night’s activity began. All of us together walked through Yerevan’s main streets. This is my second time in Armenia, but with all of the changes and improvements, I was impressed with the amount of people, restaurants, and shops our people have developed. Walking through, we made it in time for the fountain light show playing music as the fountains danced to each song at HANRABEDUTYAN HRABARAG (Republic Square). The night could have ended there, but we decided to stop and get authentic shawerma as we bonded. This group is quite impressive. I admire the number of languages each intern speak. While the main language is Armenian, and we mostly spoke Armenian, some decided to practice a common language one may have wanted to work on for the other to better understand and vice versa. Between Armenian, French, Spanish, and English, I know one language was in common; and that is Love. Love is God and God is love. I am thankful to our Lord and the AMAA for giving this unique experience to see what our Motherland is like today and to fulfill our vision for mission! I am looking forward to the rest of the itinerary filled with daily devotional, testimonials, visitations and mission work!

Christine Kutlu