Faith rises from communism’s ashes

Faith rises from communism’s ashes | World Vision Blog

Two-year-old Yeva in the doorway of her aunt and uncle's home in rural Armenia. (Photo: 2015 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision)

Faith without works is dead—but in Armenia, faith-fueled works are breathing new life into a nation that is rising from the ashes of communism and walking into a bold future.

Read about this resurgence of faith, and how Armenia's young Christians are taking action.

Faith without works is dead—but in Armenia, faith-fueled works are breathing new life into a nation that is rising from the ashes of communism and walking into a bold future. - See more at: https://blog.worldvision.org/content/faith-rises-communism#sthash.D3mU4f...
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For those of us blessed to live in a country where faith is a protected right, we might just take that freedom—or even faith itself—for granted.

But when I visited Armenia last spring on assignment for World Vision magazine, I witnessed the devastating reality of what happens to a nation when God is outlawed.

I’d never thought much about what could occur if the 300,000 or so churches across the U.S. closed and pastors no longer taught, counseled, or served their communities. But for most of the 20th century, that’s exactly what happened after the Soviet Union took control of Armenia with iron-fisted rule.

Faith was forbidden. Priests were exiled. Church doors were bolted shut. And the KGB enforced the ban on faith with threats and detention.

Armenians had lived for centuries by faith and knew no other way until 1921. Theirs is the oldest Christian nation, having declared steadfast allegiance to God in 301 A.D. So when communism suppressed Armenia’s religion for seven decades, faith went underground or evaporated.

Finally, with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia began the long journey of restoring Christianity. Young men flocked to seminaries. The Armenian Apostolic Church refurbished old churches and built new ones. Today, the people are rediscovering the biblical lifestyle that once had been Armenia’s core identity. 

Faith rises from communism’s ashes | World Vision Blog
A small church in northern Armenia. (Photo: 2015 Matthew Paul Turner)

 

Nowhere is the revival more evident than among Armenia’s young people. Retooling how faith in Christ is lived out, these youth embody the words of James 2:26: “Faith without works is dead.”

It’s a small verse—just five words. But young Christian men and women are holding tight to this truth and living out their faith the way Jesus did—among the people. There’s plenty of work to do. Families continue to struggle years after communism’s demise and a 1988 earthquake that devastated Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city.

One of them is the family of Anna Astryan, whom I met while visiting an isolated community. This mother of two preschoolers was proud to show off her new home. “Come and see,” she urged, leading us down a furrowed dirt road.

Faith rises from communism’s ashes | World Vision Blog
Anna walks toward her family's home with her 2-year-old niece, Yeva, and her oldest son, Ara, age 10. (Photo: 2015 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision)

 

We followed Anna until a jumble of worn shipping containers came into view. I’d heard of families making their homes in these containers following the earthquake that left countless stone homes in piles of rubble. Thousands of families had no choice but to make do in government-supplied shipping containers.

I can’t imagine living like this, but I knew that this metal box is the best this family can afford. We congratulated the proud mother on her new home, admiring the wallpaper and other comforting touches she’d added. But I wondered if she, her husband, and two sons could survive there for long.

Faith rises from communism’s ashes | World Vision Blog
Anna with her two sons and niece Yeva in front of their home. (Photo: 2015 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision)

 

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one stunned by marginalized families living in shipping containers. Equipped with World Vision leadership training and project management skills, Gyumri’s young Christians are finding creative ways to raise money so families like Anna’s have safe and permanent homes—no strings attached. The youth do this by selling small calendars for $1 each, amassing some $15,000 to buy a condominium for a family in need.

Heading up this ingenious initiative is Gor Torosyan, a 26-year-old who leads the charge to provide families with sturdy homes. “I am devoted because I can perceive well the state of my country,” Gor says, “and I wish to have a personal contribution in changing that.”

Faith without works is dead—but in Armenia, faith-fueled works are breathing new life into a nation that is rising from the ashes of communism and walking into a bold future.


Read more in the World Vision Magazine about how Armenia is returning to its Christian roots, and how the newest generation of believers is leading the way.

Join us in supporting this bold future of Armenia, fueled by faith. Sponsor a child in Armenia today!

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