Sharing as They Travel: (Written by Lee King)
We had a couple of opportunities along the way to share the gospel. Cheryl spoke with a man on the trip from Raleigh to Boston. During our 10 hour layover in Boston, Nathan had the opportunity to share the gospel with a man and present him a Gideon New Testament. It turns out that the man Nathan shared the gospel with was the same man that Cheryl had spoken with.
On the trip from Doha to Yerevan I (Lee) sat next to a lady who is a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale, California. She heard me sharing with Nathan how to greet people in Armenian. She spoke with me and said that I did not look Armenian and wanted to know where I had learned speak it. This led to a 4 hour conversation during which she shared her life story, her troubles, health issues, fears, and concerns. I was able to respond to each item with some scripture and discussion. She then made the statement that she was waiting for a sign from God. I responded that it seem to me that she had just gotten one. I asked if the team could pray for her and she said yes. Once we landed and disembarked from the plane we stepped off to the side and the whole team prayed over her.
We actually touched down around 1 am on Saturday the 29th. After retrieving our luggage it was another hour ride to the hotel at the camp site. It was around 2:30-2:45 once we checked in and got settle down.
We slept in a bit late on Saturday. Once we were up and moving, we explored the hotel and grounds to become familiar with it and where we would be working with the teens. After lunch we walked around the town for a bit while waiting for our ride to pick us up for the evening activities. Rustam (he is one of the 4 pastors involved with the camp) and Esmirelda's little girl Leah turned 2 and we were invited to the party and barbecue. There was an accident and Rustam suffered some burns down his left arm. Nothing too serious but we asked that he be lifted up in prayer as he was in some considerable pain.
The plans for Sunday are for the team to split up. Amy and I (Lee) will be attending church in Gavar where I will speak while Nathan and Cheryl will attend church in Sevan where Nathan will speak.
A word from Nathan Roberts:
Our church First Baptist of Asheboro has made over a dozen trips to Armenia over the years and every time we have brothers and sisters who come to this country they continually comment on how our Armenian brothers and sisters are such a welcoming, loving, and faithful group of believers. After hearing so much about Armenia from other members of our church who have ever had pleasure and blessing to come to Armenia, this is the first time myself and Cheryl Snider have experienced this blessing first hand to come to Armenia. Along with Cheryl and myself who have made the trip, Lee King is leading the trip with Amy Deck.
After experiencing this blessing first hand and only having been in Armena for two days, I can honestly say that I don’t think I have been anywhere in my life that I have been shown such hospitality and I don’t think I have ever been to a more welcoming place. It is abundantly clear that this welcoming hospitality and love isn’t just part of the Armenian culture, but an extension of their deep love and devotion they have for our Lord Jesus Christ. Along with the strength and faithfulness of their walk with Christ, how they welcome brothers and sisters is just another extension of their walk in faith. We have only been here for two days and the outpouring of the love and support that our Armenian believers have for one another is a testament to how we as believers, as the body of Christ, should be living out our lives and acting toward one another to support our fellow believers. You can’t help but think this example that our Armenian brothers and sisters have shown is exactly what it looks like when Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Just hours before physically being lead to the cross when Jesus would atone for our sins and bare the wrath of God in our place, Jesus prayed this prayer found in John 17:20-26:
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
- John 17:20-26
The fact that we as brothers and sisters from across the globe can land in Armenia for the common goal of making the good news of Jesus Christ known to people and be welcomed with such hospitality and love, is a testimony to us of how we should and continue to work as one with the body of Christ and believers as a whole for the commission in which we are called to live out.
Faithfulness through no matter what happens and pure devotion to our Lord is one of the defining blessings that we have been exposed to through the pastors here in Armenia. No matter how “successful” they are perceived to be or how much of an impact their efforts appear, their diligence in what they are doing and their complete devotion to God doesn’t wavier at all. If anything it fuels their passion for the Lord even more, like wind hitting a burning coal, it only continues to burn stronger and hotter for our Lord Jesus Christ to be made known among the Armenian people. Not only are they focused on evangelism and reaching their neighbors with the Gospel, but no matter the size of the church’s membership they have just as strong as a focus on discipleship as well. After the service was over we all together: members, non-members, believers, and skeptics, anyone that was there for worship was invited into the next room where everyone is invited to gather around the table and fellowship with one another eating deserts and drinking coffee and tea. The devotion for the Lord, is not only true for the pastors and their families, but it is also true for their members as well.
Sunday in worship we had the pleasure of meeting an American woman named Mary. At the beginning of June she received her assignment with the Peace Core to work in Sevan Armenia where Arman lives and is trying to plant and grow the church. Mary said she lives really close to an apostolic church, but walks an hour one way to come to the church that Arman is trying to grow so that she can worship in an evangelical church. Others that we had the pleasure of meeting in worship was a young teenage looking girl who very obviously doesn’t show up to church as part of a social event, but out of her love and devotion to following Christ with her life. She is clearly being discipled by Arman and his family who pitches in helping prepare the deserts after the service, washing the dishes after everyone is done, and spends the afternoons taking on some of the responsibilities of their children’s ministry which that afternoon included roughly about 20-30 children during their afternoon children’s service. Another gentleman we met included an atheist-communist that lives just behind the church and stays in Sevan for the summer. Arman said this was the first service that he had attended since he has known the guy and their relationship seems very close. While setting the table for deserts after the service was over, the atheist went out picked flowers from his garden and brought them in for a place setting and stuck very close to Arman sitting next to him in fellowship with the others from worship.
The camp begins today where we have over 100 kids coming from four areas of Armenia to hear the Gospel, be connected with the pastor’s churches, and to begin and continue their walk with the Lord. The multitudes of prayers that have been lifted up are continually being answered this week. We would all like to thank First Baptist Asheboro for the abundance of the love, support, and prayers we have received and continue to receive. Thank you for having such a big impact and being a part of making this camp a reality and supporting the efforts of our Armenian brothers and sisters.
A word from Cheryl Snider:
As I lifted one foot above the other climbing four flights of desolate concrete steps,
As Nathan and I entered Arman and Tatevic’s home the love and presence of Our Father was warmly and graciously given to us. (We worshipped with Arman and Tatevic, while Lee and Amy shared Sunday services with Ararat and Jemma). Their living conditions quickly humbled my heart however their love, joy, and devotion for Jesus was truly a gift and blessing sent straight from our Lord and Savior.
Watching Arman lead the worship music with his heart, lay the microphone down and walk right over to his hand built podium and speak of Christ’s love for us, touched my heart in a new place, deep within. Nathan was asked to share Christ today in the service as well. I happen to look behind and saw our Armenian brothers and sisters in Christ being blessed from our Father using Nathan as well. How awesome of our Almighty God to bring His children together in His worship service, touched hearts, today in a way only He is capable of doing.
Thank you First Baptist family for your love, support, and prayers for being a part of bringing brothers and sisters in Christ together in His beautiful county of Armenia, but most importantly for your love for our loving Father.