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Armenia

Conference in the Gorge of Flowers

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 32:12)
You can understand the special importance of the words in this Psalm when you look at the small people group of the Yezidi-Kurds. In the Armenian translation, this verse resounds like this: “Happy is the nation whose Master is the God Himself.”
Basically, throughout the entire 2016 year we were trying to restore the Yezidis' ministry and there were a lot of new trips, new acquaintances and new territories.

 

By the grace of the Lord during this year, we have reached almost all the Yezidis (over 80%), who live in Armenia. Since 2003, we regularly held conferences in February for the Yezidis. It couldn't be held for a few years only (from 2012 to 2015). Why in February? It's very simple, February is the time when all the Yezidis are not so busy and can safely come to the conference.

The very first miracle was that we couldn't even imagine that we would do a conference this year, since there was not enough money for the fuel and even for a regular trips, let alone such a projects as a conference or a camp...
But, we did not lose our hope, and the Lord sent us some resources through friends. Although it was still not enough, we kept on praying and, thus, 10 days before the conference, we realized that we will be able to host this "miracle-conference."
By the grace of our Lord (there's no other way for us), from 23 to 26 February this year, we've finally held a conference for the Yezidi-Kurds. At the conference there were more than 100 people from 30 cities and settlements of Armenia. This year's theme was “The Old or New?” In our opinion, this topic was the most relevant for today's situation with the pagan Kurds.

Jesus said that you cannot pour a new wine into old bags. Why? Because, when the new wine starts to ferment, it will just rip these bags apart. I think that, as it was urgent for the Jews in the past, this is also relevant for Caucasians today, this example is very evident, since the winemaking is utterly common here. Talking about this we mean that what Christ has brought to us is simply breaking an old pagan rituals and traditions.
There were many new Yezidis, especially from far-off mountain settlements. Although Armenia is a small country, many Yezidis for the first time were in such a resort place in the conditions of the recreation center (although due to the lack of funds we pick the most economical option that could have been in Tsakhkadzor). But still, for many Yezidis to stay in Tsakhkadzor (a resort town) is also the same as to be in some five-star resort somewhere abroad. Well, firstly, you open the tap and all of a sudden – you have water running! Wow, it's a happiness, you know, once you open another faucet – and there you go! There's a hot water. It turns out that you can even bath or have a shower here... and this is a great surprise and celebration after all. You are not going to believe me, but many of them just stayed in the shower room for hours.

Then, here's another thing, you don't have to stoke the furnace with manure... There is stable electricity here... And, you can imagine, that most of these people were participants of the conference! But they really liked the most that it was said there about the truth. Therefore, when on the last day of the conference there was an exhortation to take off the old and put on new “clothes,” a lot of people (almost everyone) came forward to repent and were saying that from this first day they've decided to change their life.
Also, at the end everybody has divided on a small groups, where we went into the thorough details on these subjects. Probably the most dynamic group was a group where there were three sheikhs. They could be understood, since they've heard at the conference as it was said about the truth that tears apart everything that their life was based and dependent on. For those who do not know, I will remind you that all the Yezidi Kurds are divided into three castes and the highest one is the sheikhs. Sheikhs are the highest clergy. They take care of all spiritual rituals, for example they come after a birth of a child and perform “bzkit” (this is something between circumcision and baptism), conduct all kinds of events (including weddings and funerals).

All other Yezidis pay to Sheikh “cher”)))) (an interesting word, in Kurdish only the letter “r” sounds a little softer). This is something similar to tithing, but it is much bigger and more often even in comparison to what Christians give to the true God. These “poor” young sheikhs who were at the conference were simply startled. I've known these guys since 2005, when they as a teenagers participated in our camps.
Can you imagine? Just before the very conference, I was taken completely by surprise as one of them gave me a call (actually the last time we “accidentally” encountered at the airport about 7 years ago, me and him were flying to Kiev) and he says at that moment that he's decided to call and find out about my life and family.
He returned from Kiev at the beginning of the year. I invited him to come to the conference with his family. He agreed to come and said that he cannot take his family, but if it is OK he will bring along two sheiks (I have also known these guys). In general, of course, the Lord has stirred their consciousness through all that, and when I separately talked with them. One of them was basically ready for repentance (but probably the presence of the other sheikhs hampered him). But I arranged with them about visits to their families in the future and they gladly agreed.

I pray that the Lord will let me see the first truly converted sheikh. I do not know ... it's very complicated ... it has to be a miracle... But everything is possible to God!!!
It is also worth mentioning the ministry of Jamal, Roman, Karapet. These guys have never wasted even a minute, they have chatted all the time with the Yezidis and shared about Jesus. There was also a great contribution of our Yerevan church “Bethlehem” and of pastor Edika in particular.
In addition, at the almost all collective worships before the major topic, two or three men testified how the Lord changed their lives. These living testimonies were clearly revealing the main topic of the conference. It means that, people heard the real stories as God changed the old into the new.

What I would like to say in the end ... Of course, we really need your prayers, we desperately need your prayers. Dear brothers and sisters, we simply call upon you with your own prayers to be the co-workers in what God does here in Armenia.
The thing is, that along with these great blessings we also have a significant trials, which we will overcome together.

Firstly, we should keep on visiting all these Yezidis, and this is more than 30 settlements in Armenia. And at the moment we do not have a car or even basic means for fuel, not to mention that we need to take something with us each time as we go to visit (medications, a bag of flour, or some cereal, or just sweets for children).
Secondly, we do not have the means for any large events in the future, such as a camps, or children's festivals (a puppet theater or movie, that is just a full house for a distant Yezidi settlement).
Thirdly, we still have a small debt from this conference (600 euro).
Fourthly, my mother has a terminal disease, it’s a serious form of Parkinson's disease, and in order to look after her I need a lot of efforts and money.
Fifthly, there is an urgent need for elementary Christian education for our new workers.
Once again, dear brothers and sisters, take these needs and please pray about them. We believe that our Lord is over everything and He gave the promise that if we spread the gospel to the nations which are in the darkness, He will be with us to the end.
Therefore, we thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and grace for us and that the doors of His gospel are still open for salvation. All the glory only to our God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! Amen.
With love and prayers from Armenia,
Your brother Arthur Marandyan

Pray for Armenia

• for strengthening of our churches;

• for new church in Erevan, for the trip in Karabah;

• for summer events and baptism;

• for new ministers;

• for minister’s families;

• for finance to repair building in Armavir;

• for finances to visit missionary locations;

• for Bible College “Ararat” (students, teachers, finances);

• for our trip to Ukraine in July-August;

• for Natasha’s health.

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