Jinishian Memorial Program helps Armenians facing poverty and the aftermath of war
April 24, 2023
The men were taken first, and then the women and children were brutalized. Witnesses saw the Euphrates run with blood, and women plunged into the river to escape the terrors of the desert march.
Throughout the Ottoman territories of 1915, Armenian villages were emptied out in a systematic campaign to demean and destroy innocent victims. Although authorities in modern-day Turkey deny this genocide, historians have gathered indisputable evidence of at least 1.5 million Armenians killed and a million more dispersed from their ancient homeland, the world’s first Christian nation.
Today’s Armenia is the size of Maryland, locked among Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The fledgling republic fell under communist rule for most of the 20th century, followed by harsh and hungry years of early independence in the 1990s.
For a people who have endured genocide and communism, their faith and their future might seem tenuous. Indeed, many of today’s young adults have been demoralized, unemployed and ready to flee. Yet voices of hope and change began to rise. In April 2018, peaceful protests dismantled the corrupt dictatorship and led to fair elections of new leadership.
In 2020, however, Armenia was faced with yet another humanitarian crisis. Azerbaijan launched surprise missile attacks on Armenia’s enclave — the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) — forcing their defense army into war to protect its people and homeland. During the 45 days of war, Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, conducted horrible war crimes. Consequently, over 2,500 men perished fighting for their homeland, and thousands of civilians, including the elderly and children, were either wounded or killed. Armenia was thus forced to sign a painful ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan and Russia, giving up a big part of its sacred land with vital Christian heritage (more than 5,000 ancient churches and Christian monuments) to stop the massacre of its people — shaking once again, their spirit of hope. The war brought more than 100,000 displaced people from Artsakh, mainly women and children, who were forced to find refuge throughout Armenia. In the fall of 2022, fighting flared again when Azerbaijan attacked military and civilian targets along the boarders of the Republic of Armenia itself, as a result of which 204 Armenian servicemen were killed or went missing. A cease-fire put a temporary end to the bloodshed; however, since Azerbaijan still occupies Armenian territory, the constant threat of another attack ways heavy on the shoulders of a nation of people whose perseverance is constantly tested.
The Jinishian Memorial Foundation in Armenia, under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) administration, developed a nationwide strategy to empower young leaders. Hundreds of young entrepreneurs in rural areas are using affordable loans to start their businesses and are provided with a coach and technical support. Since 2005, thousands of university students have learned about human rights, the economy, and the environment and have used small grants to tackle local problems. For example, Jinishian support helped one young man channel his expertise in radio electronics into a STEM program for dozens of youths, including many from a local orphanage.
Jinishian’s indigenous, ecumenical teams empower Armenians living in poverty throughout the Caucasus and Middle East. In Armenia, 90% of the projects are designed to promote long-term, sustainable change so people can earn a decent living, grow healthy families and help their communities thrive. The program offers dignity and hope through relief, development and spiritual uplift.
In response to the war in the fall of 2020, Jinishian swiftly expanded its programs to include medication and rehabilitation for wounded soldiers and humanitarian relief for displaced families.
To promote understanding of Armenian culture and history, the Jinishian Memorial Program is hosting a “Discover Armenia Mission Trip” from Oct. 5–14, 2024. The tour focuses on culture, outreach and faith. Join us to connect with Armenia’s people and see faith in action. Details will be forthcoming as we move closer to the date.
Cara Taylor and Gina Guida, Jinishian Memorial Program
Today’s Focus: Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
On the day I called, you answered me; you made me bold with strength in my soul (Psalm 138:3). In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.