Monday, September 30, 2013

Armenian Hospitality

I was privileged to travel to the beautiful country of Armenia during the first part of September.  Armenia has been a hub of Orphan’s Promise projects for the past several years, and yet I’d never had a chance to view them first hand--until now!  Armenia is famous in the Eurasia world for the welcoming arms and hospitality...and I can say that is what I experienced on every turn.  

Armenia is a tiny country bordering Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran and boasts deep Christian roots, as it was the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity (301 AD).  It also boasts amazing views of Mt. Ararat—where is where the Bible records that Noah landed the Ark.

Mt. Ararat

Yet Armenia is also a country still struggling its way out of poverty and hardship, after the devastating 1988 earthquake, which claimed over 30,000 lives.  With a poor economy and a high cost of living, 35% of families are living below the poverty line and struggle to provide a future for their children.  Learning to speak English or learning to use a computer are considered a luxury and yet these are the very skills that would grant them better opportunities in life.

So I was very excited to see the projects that we are sponsoring that are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of kids.  I was able to visit our 4 training centers that OP is sponsoring and my team also held a 2-day training of all of our staff working with the kids there.  Bringing them more strategy for how to reach the kids effectively and teaching how to use our life skills curriculum. 

Armenian Orphan's Promise team at 2-day training
with kids at one of our centers

Beautiful brown eyes greeted me at each of the centers I visited and one thing was evident in the eyes of all who I saw—they were eager to learn and so grateful for the opportunity they’d been given.   Most of the children we are working with are from poor and broken families. They live at home, but often in dysfunctional situations and have very little chance at receiving a good education.  Thanks to these training centers, this is changing!

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”  I truly feel that this is what these schools are doing.  Through education, the teachers are pouring living water into areas that have been void of outside resources.  I saw hope is in the eyes of these children. 

What impressed me the most about our work being done in Armenia is that it is done in connection with the local church.  As a result, the kids are coming to our centers, developing relationships with our team, meeting Jesus, and then getting plugged in with a church where they are growing and being discipled.  The kids are even bringing their parents to church with them and as a result their parents are meeting Jesus!

It was a sweet sweet time in Armenia (not to mention a tasty one at that!)…a time I will not soon forget!