Our Armenia Bloggers Trip starts this week!
Join us on our journey to the land of Noah and of second chances as we explore how World Vision tackles the root causes of poverty in this ancient Christian nation … and during the cold, bitter winter.
Tomorrow, seven World Vision Bloggers and I will depart our various home airports across the United States for Paris, where we will meet—many of us for the first time in person—and fly together to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
In past roles and now with World Vision, I’ve had the opportunity to lead dozens of trips covering 19 countries on five continents, but I’ve never been more excited for a trip abroad than for this one! Here are five reasons why …
1. Armenia is a land with a long history of second chances. Their culture traces its heritage all the way back to the time of Noah and the nearby Mount Ararat, where Noah’s ark “came to rest” (Gen 8:4) after the flood—beginning God’s covenant, and mankind’s first big second chance.
Armenia’s rich history is also closely tied to the Christian church. In 301 AD, it became the first nation to officially adopt Christianity as the national religion, and thus has one of the oldest Christian traditions in the world. On our trip, we’ll be visiting Armenia’s beautiful Mother Church at Etchmiatzin and a monastery built into a mountain! (Photos to come!)
2. With thousands of years of history in an often volatile region where three continents come together, Armenia has needed and found many second chances: formerly conquered by Persia and Rome; massacre and genocide near the turn of the twentieth century; and 70 years as part of the Soviet Union—but today, they are independent.
This history of second chances has also built a long history of need and relief work: the American Red Cross under Clara Barton in the 1890s made its first international relief efforts to Armenia. In his bestselling book about the Armenian genocide, The Burning Tigris, Peter Balakian also writes about Grace Kimball in the 1890s, who employed Armenian refugees to make clothing and bake bread.
“Relief of this kind was far better than ‘gratuitous charity,’ she wrote, affirming her belief in self-reliance and the Protestant work ethic” (Balakian, p. 91). Some of the World Vision work with economic development that we will be visiting this week in Armenia comes from this same kind of philosophy.
Also, I studied English under poet Balakian when I was in university! So the opportunity to visit the country that he wrote The Burning Tigris about is another reason I’m excited for this trip.
3. Today, World Vision is active in 13 communities in Armenia, with sponsors from the United States helping to support about 7,800 children in four of them. We began our work there in 1988, after a powerful earthquake devastated the northern region near Gyumri, where we will spend most of our time on this trip.
This disaster and the fall of communism occurred one on top of the other, and these are the second chances that Armenia is working to recover from today. World Vision is active in many ways across the country, working alongside the people of Armenia in that recovery. We’re in close partnership with the local church. We work with families in need of economic stability to provide training and microloans. And we help children stay warm and nourished during long, bitter winters (which they’re in the middle of now), just to name a few.
Please follow our trip here on the blog to see more as we write live from the field!
4. I’m especially excited to travel with and get to know seven amazing bloggers, many of whom will be experiencing World Vision’s work up close for the first time! They’re wonderful writers, and will be bringing Armenia’s stories and their experiences over the next few weeks back home to you. See below for quotes and links from them!
5. And finally, I’m very excited to get to meet this little guy! Hovhannes is 2, and the child that my wife and I sponsored last month. This will be my first time getting to meet one of our sponsored children, and that just might be the best part.
I hope you’ll join in our excitement on this journey! Follow the trip here on our blog as well as on Twitter (#WVBloggers), Facebook, and Pinterest.
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And now, let me introduce to you the seven bloggers that will be joining us on this trip! See what they have to say about the journey so far:
Addie Zierman: "On Saying 'Yes' To Armenia"
Amy Bellgardt: "Why I Am Traveling To Armenia"
Anna Whiston-Donaldson: "5 More Days!"
Benjamin L. Corey: "I am passionate about the calling on the lives of Christians to be agents of reconciliation and healing to the world. World Vision is one of those organizations who live out this example for all of us to see, emulate, and participate in—and I can’t wait to see the fruit of their work in Armenia."
Jarrid Wilson: "I'm excited to be part of this World Vision trip and truly embrace the reality of reaching all nations with the love of God."
Juli Wilson: "I'm thrilled to get a first hand look at how World Vision's passion and selfless service, coupled with God's love, are bringing hope to the people of Armenia. It's a honor to jump in and partner together."
Matthew Paul Turner: "Looking for rainbows amid suffering, genocide, and other mysteries of God"
Give a child in Armenia a second chance! Sponsor today.