May Mission Trip Report: Beirut and Athens
Updated: Jun 14, 2019
The AEUNA “Macedonian mission” to sister churches and ministries in the Near East began the week of May 13 with rehearsals for evangelistic services with local pastors and musical worship leaders.
The mission team was Minister to the Union Rev. Berdj Djambazian, Glendale Armenian Church of the Nazarene Pastor Rev. Hrag Karagoezian, United Armenian Congregational Church Pastor of Christian Education Harut Khatchatryan, and New Hope Singers soprano Arpy Aintablian and tenor Raffi Kerbabian.
Early Wednesday morning, Rev. Hrag Karagoezian visited the Torossian Armenian Evangelical School with Arpy Aintablian and Raffi Kerbabian to lead their 7:30am chapel hour.
The whole team gathered Thursday May 16 to lead the first evening service at the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church of Amanos. Showing our unity and worldwide fellowship, Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches of the Near East President Rev. Mgrdich Karagoezian and Haigazian University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian were present for the first night of AEUNA’s outreach, and Rev. Nishan Bakalian joined the musical team.
Pastor Harut Khatchtryan was musical worship leader; he also blessed everyone in the audience by singing some beautiful songs as solos. In addition, he was charged with giving a special address to the young people present every night. New Hope singers Raffi Kerbabian and Arpy Aintablian sang uplifting duets as well as solos. Rev. Berdj Djambazian gave the evangelistic messages each night. That first night, approximately 60-70 people responded by raising their hands during the altar call, asking for prayers and spiritual renewal.
Friday morning, Pastor Harut Khatchatryan led the chapel hour at Armenian Evangelical Central High School, Asrafieh. A full schedule of ministry visits followed: first at UAECNE headquarters to meet with its President and Rev. Sevag Trashian and pay a visit to Catholicos Aram I. Then Lebanon Field Director of the Karagheusian Center Serop Ohanian, a member of the Nor Amanos Church and a partner in producing the evangelistic rallies, gave the group a personal tour of the facilities and services in Ainjar.
After that the team visited the Armenian Evangelical Christian Social Center in Bourj Hammoud. It was a full day of visits.
The day's activities over, they welcomed a bigger crowd for Friday evening’s service. Rev. Djambazian said, “As I preached, we felt the presence of the Lord in many ways. We were blessed by the unity of the organizers, the local pastors, and the churches. The full support of our sister union and the precious time we had to strengthen our in-person fellowship was a true blessing as well. Many non-evangelicals attended these events and were witness to our global fellowship in faith.”
Saturday morning, local pastors gathered with us at the UAECNE headquarters for breakfast and a study led by Rev. Berdj Djambazian on the subject of Pastoral Burnout. An indepth conversation with the 12 pastors present was helpful for all. Rev. Mgrdich Karagoezian hosted the AEUNA team for lunch, and then all prepared for the Saturday evening service, which drew even more people despite the fact that graduation ceremonies and celebrations were going on around the city. Chairs were borrowed for UAECNE headquarters to accommodate the audience.
“The last night of the rally was very powerful. I gave an altar call. Hundreds came forward, and we lined up six pastors to pray with people in groups. Sunday morning we saw many of these people at worship services as we had been scheduled as guest speakers.” Rev. Djambazian preached Sunday morning at the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church of Amanos on the question, “What is Worship?” New Hope Singers Raffi Kerbabian and Arpy Aintablian added their musical talents to that worship service. Pastor Harut Khatchatryan preached at the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Asrafieh. After the Sunday morning services, the entire organizing team gathered for a fellowship lunch.
“Truly after all these events, we were so blessed, but we didn’t realize what a wonderful event lay just ahead!” With his wife Maral, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian had hosted the team for lunch earlier in the week, sharing the vision and mission of Haigazian University. He had invited the team to attend Haigazian University’s Baccalaureate on Sunday evening May 19. “I encourage all our churches and members to read my report on the Haigazian Baccalaureate, and to learn more about Haigazian University and its tremendous work in the Near East. Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian’s Armenian Evangelical spirit is evident in the fruit of this institution and its commitment to the values of Truth, Freedom and Service.”
From Beirut, the AEUNA team went to Athens at the invitation of Rev. Viken Cholakian, Pastor, Armenian Evangelical Church of Greece. He had invited the entire Armenian community to the AEUNA mission team’s first evening event. Republic of Armenia Ambassador Fadey Charchoghlyan was present the first evening.
Archbishop Kegham Khacherian visited the next evening with two priests, one of whom was Rev. Djambazian’s former student at Shamlian-Tatigian school and introduced himself. Also present for the outreach services were Chair of the National Council of the Armenian Prelacy, Boghos Cholakian, and Chair of Hayastan Himnatram, Dr. Vatche Der Kerbabian, and Vatche Der Garabedian.
Rev. Djambazian’s messages to the Athens community were about unity, and building a new city together with Nehemiah as an example. “If we are going to build the walls of the fallen part of our community, we need unity. Before Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, he prayed, fasted, and committed himself. He prepared spiritually to fulfill his mission. Then he made an appeal to the community in Babylon and the response was overwhelming. After he started building, neighbors mocked him, and there were conflicts from within. But he succeeded in rebuilding the city with perseverance and the guidance of the Lord. Today, the Armenian community must take care that there is no split from within, that we are unified in our commitment to human rights and to rebuilding our nation as a beacon of freedom and hope."
New Hope Singers Raffi Kerbabian and Arpy Aintablian provided a wonderful musical program of sacred songs as well as Armenian Evangelical traditional hymns, and they were greatly appreciated by the Armenian community in Athens.
Rev. Cholakian took the mission team to see the ruins of Corinth and its beautiful views all around. He also organized a special dinner with the Archbishop, local priests, and Armenian Evangelical leaders.
The team had already held one community outreach event Monday evening; the second one was scheduled for Wednesday, and a great turnout surprised them. News had spread about the visit, the preaching and the wonderful music. Those who had heard Rev. Djambazian’s Monday night message had asked him to go into expository details about the work of Nehemiah and the message of unity. “I urged them to be united in love, service and work. They promised to read through Nehemiah, study its messages, and rebuild together. We turned this service into an evangelistic rally and had a very positive response from the community at large. After it was over, during the fellowship hour, our New Hope Singers gave an additional impromptu half-hour concert. This community rarely has musical visitors and our talented soloists were very popular.”
Throughout this mission trip, the AEUNA team prayed with individuals, met with and encouraged lay leaders and Armenian Evangelical pastors, and pursued true fellowship with ecumenical and cultural leaders. "I felt a great need for fellowship, a tremendous need to hear the gospel through singing and preaching, and everywhere a longing for unity and hope. We were tremendously blessed on this mission trip to be able to reach out on behalf of the entire AEUNA community to our churches and ministries in the Near East, and the Armenian community at large there as well.”