Presbyterians remember and support Armenians
June 30, 2017
“The Promise” is no mere period love story but a “fight to end genocide and injustice,” promoters say. In the recently released film, actor Christian Bale plays an American journalist trying to expose the Ottoman plot to exterminate millions of Armenians.
Modern denial of the genocide persists and that’s one reason that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to recognize the Armenian genocide and urged congregations to commemorate its centennial in 2015. The cruel and systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenians is remembered each year. Worship and study materials, including a printable Minute for Mission, are available online as resources for this observance.
During World War I, Armenian Christians were forced to march from their homeland in Anatolia to the Syrian desert. Survivors built a new community in Aleppo, Syria, and Presbyterians have supported missions there since 1966 through the Jinishian Memorial Program (JMP).
People in Aleppo have reoriented once-prosperous lives around fetching water from wells in churches, mosques and public squares. All roads to the city have been cut off entirely at times. People live without power most of the time; fuel and generators are scarce and expensive. The cost of survival has been paid not just in wasted hours and worthless currency but also in exhaustion and anxiety.
Violence hit even the “safe” areas of Damascus in 2016. In Aleppo, 11 Armenians were martyred over two days in October. Mercifully, when rocket missiles came to the JMP office courtyard last April, staff were unharmed and received clients with a smile in the morning.
The mission team adapted in creative ways. Bottled water for families with children reduced the spread of disease. Increased aid reached displaced families. Patients with special needs were overwhelmed by diaper expenses, so JMP began supplying them. JMP also responded to a huge increase in community health cases with counseling, medication and shared hospital expenses.
“The Armenian community in Syria needs and deserves our attention, compassion and assistance more than ever,” said Talin Topalakian, JMP country director for Syria. “With our local partners, we work hard to overcome all the obstacles surrounding us, knowing that we are the only hope of our community.”
Mission partnerships are available through JMP to bring dignity and hope out of poverty and despair. The Jinishian program addresses the needs of the whole person — social, economic and spiritual. It adapts and innovates, adjusting to changing conditions in seven countries across the Middle East and South Caucasus. Work ranges from emergency relief to long-term community development and discipleship programs. Projects are led and implemented by 100 percent local teams. Since it was established as an endowment fund of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1966, JMP has served as an ecumenical leader in the region with Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical church partners.
Cara Taylor, PC(USA) World Mission Jinishian Memorial Program
Today’s Focus: Jinishian Memorial Program
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
O God, when enemies surround us, may we offer a sacrifice of joy to you. May we truly see the most vulnerable among us and be your healing love to them. Please protect and strengthen communities across the earth, granting them peace. Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for those who love as you loved. Amen.