Spring has traditionally been the season for Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) executives, officers and Near East Committee members to join the Haigazian University Board of Trustees and head to Lebanon for joint annual meetings, special events and a tour of one of the major AMAA mission fields. This year, the participants enjoyed an added attraction, that of Haigazian University’s 60th Anniversary Banquet at the Beirut Phoenicia Hotel. The Central Committee of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE) and the President’s Office of Haigazian University spared no effort to make the trip warm and hospitable, productive and efficient, cordial and pleasant.
A warm and hospitable spirit, visitation itinerary, meeting arrangements, transportation, individual and group discussions were all up to and beyond expectations. Indeed, personal encounters ease the way of communications to culminate in a smoother and more efficient resolution of issues of joint concern in the field.
Notably, a younger generation of leaders at the UAECNE has emerged, pinning a ton of hope on their collective involvement to boldly confront the ever increasing challenges facing the individual, the church, the community and the region.
I had the joy and privilege of visiting all five Armenian Evangelical Churches, five Armenian Evangelical Schools, the Armenian Evangelical Social Action Committee, the Center for Armenian Handicapped in Lebanon – CAHL, the Near East School of Theology – NEST and the Haigazian University Campus. I also participated in the dedication of the newly renovated structures at KCHAG (Summer Camp site of UAECNE) and a Genocide Centennial Concert at the American University of Beirut – AUB.
On May 4th Haigazian University organized a Beirut presentation of my two books on campus and on May 7th, the University’s 60th Anniversary celebratory events were crowned with a magnificent banquet attended by over 400 Lebanese and Armenian dignitaries and guests from the United States.
Our meetings with pastors, school principals, administrators, UAECNE Central Committee leadership, the Presidents of the Armenian Evangelical Communities of Syria and Lebanon, Haigazian University President, Administration and Board of Trustees were fruitful, informative, productive and promising.
Our meetings with the President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria, Rev. Haroutune Selimian was joyful yet emotional. On his way back from Armenia, this courageous shepherd of the flock in Syria reported on the deteriorating security situation in Aleppo, thanked the AMAA for its steadfast support and vowed to stay put in his leadership role despite the most serious challenges any Diaspora community has ever faced since the century old Genocide.
We are unshakably determined to stay on guard and continue the flow of humanitarian aid into Syria, to bring desperate families out of the danger zone and to help our Syrian refugee kin in Lebanon and Armenia.
I thank God for the passion to serve that I witnessed and I pray that the Lord Almighty will grant all the wisdom to lead, the courage to protect and the energy to serve and carry on the very important and vital tasks that the traditionally spiritually fertile lands of the Middle East are entrusted.
The Near East and their communities are very dear to us. With blessings from above we shall continue our steadfast support of the communities in every field of mission that has been planted on the ground.
AMAA Executive Director/CEO