Minister to the Union Mission Trip to Lebanon
UAECNE Acting President and Haigazian University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian with AEUNA Minister to the Union Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian
Near East School of Theology President Dr. George Sabra and AEUNA Minister to the Union Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian
Mission Trip photo gallery below.
After more than twenty years, I had the opportunity to return to Beirut and visit the churches I served at and the community I lived in for four years more than two decades ago.
It was heartwarming to see familiar faces: people who impacted my life and ministry in a meaningful way and who will remain in my memory as long as I am able to remember.
I spent three days in meetings with the Executive committee of the Action Chrétienne en Orient Fellowship, which supports projects in our churches in Syria, Lebanon and Iran. I met as many old friends, colleagues, church leaders and community members as possible in the balance of time available.
Sunday, October 1, I worshiped at Nor Marash Armenian Evangelical Church, where I did my field work from 1998-2000. I enjoyed seeing people I had worked with, who have formed families and continued their involvement at church with their children. I had the opportunity to spend time with Rev. Raffi Messerlian and his wife Gayaneh, and a few of the Near East School of Theology (NEST) students from Armenia.
I relived my student years at NEST as I met with the President, Dr. George Sabra, worshiped with students at the chapel, and shared lunch with them. Talking to NEST staff, entering the library, and walking in the neighborhood brought back good memories.
Later that week, I met with Rev. Dr. Riad and Mrs. Rosangela Jarjour, the previous General secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches and the current General Secretary of the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches. Both had a great impact on my life, on the churches and on the Synod of the Evangelical Church of Iran, where I served before moving to the U.S. Meeting Dr. Mary Michael, the president of the NEST when I was a student, was another highlight of my trip. Hearing her stories, and different ways she continues to serve the community, was very encouraging.
Despite his busy schedule and between his travels, I had the opportunity to meet the Acting President of of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE) and the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian. We exchanged information about our ministries and discussed the situation in Artsakh and Armenia and the challenges our Unions in the Near East and North America face and the opportunities of expanding our cooperation. We continued our meeting at their residence where Mrs. Maral Haidostian joined.
I also met with Pastor Sebouh Terzian, Rev. Nishan and Maria Bakalian, Dr. Yervand Kassouni, Rev. Salim Sabounji, and the Armenian NEST student, and each was a blessing. To hear about their hard work and dedicated ministry despite regional challenges, their concerns for the current situation, and wise advice and suggestion for the future all were very encouraging and heartwarming.
The last two days of my stay were very busy. I had the opportunity to share some encouraging words with the lay leaders and volunteers of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Ashrafieh and to lead a Bible Study for the men’s fellowship of the Nor Marash Armenian Evangelical Church. I was very encouraged by the dedication of the leaders of both churches, their great ministry, and the number of people they impact.
Sunday, October 8, I worshiped at the Ashrafieh Church, where many students and parents were present for their back-to-school worship service. I was so encouraged by the participation of the students, and their testimonies. I spent the rest of the day with the pastor of the church and my dear friends, Rev. Hrayr and Mrs. Karineh Cholakian and their children.
I want to thank the UAECNE leadership and staff, and the pastors who welcomed me and did their best to make my stay comfortable. I witnessed how every pastor, lay leader, and church member is involved in multiple tasks and responsibilities and how everybody offers their best to serve the Lord.
I left Beirut on the night of October 8, the day after the Hamas terrorist attack and the start of a new war in the area caused worries about escalation. This has added another concern and pressure on our Lebanese friends and leadership. They are in my prayers, and I ask all of you to join me in prayers for our brothers and sisters in Lebanon, and for peace in the area.
As I was in the air flying back to the U.S., my dear colleague Rev. Hovhannes Svadjian and his wife Vera were in the air flying to Beirut to start their ministry at the Nor Amanos Armenian Evangelical Church. Please join me praying for them as they start their ministry in that church in these challenging times.
- Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian
Minister to the Union