Back in Yerevan... Here is a little report from Pastor Joseph about his activities on Monday and Tuesday, and our Wednesday road trip, in his own words!
I met with Arayik over an early breakfast for about an hour and a half. Then I met with a young journalist we had got to know two years ago after she contacted us because she had received and read my book, God's Workshop (in Armenian). The same morning I met with an other young lady who has been working hard distributing our tracts and books, and keeping in touch with us throughout the year regarding requests from pastors and individuals for our material.
In the afternoon, I had a very long meeting with church leaders and a pastor about church and ministry matters in Armenia. After sharing supper with them, I returned to the hotel very late and went to bed.
After sharing breakfast with Arayik again, we picked up a gentleman who came with us to a village where we visited a large family. On the way, I was able to witness to him and speak about eternal life and salvation. Even though he is surrounded by believers, he has not understood life after death and having a personal relationship with God. Upon our arrival in the village, I faced the same situation with his brother who had not been able to understand why we should be saved. After explaining to him about the human heart and condition, I encouraged him to pray and ask God to help him see the need for salvation. In the meantime, other family members joined us and heard the gospel.
I returned to Yerevan and rested for about an hour and then was picked up to visit another Christian family in the city. We had lunch together and then a Bible study, during which I was able to clarify some words that seemed unclear in either Armenian or English; I referred to the original Greek to explain the terms in question.
Later in the afternoon, a brother who produces yogurt, cheese, etc. took me to his dairy farm and showed me around. He even introduced me to his bull! I learned how the dairy products are made, too.
Early in the morning, after a quick breakfast, Arayik and I picked up Felix, one of the young men who had been baptized on Sunday, and headed to Vanadzor to join the group from Horom. During the drive there, I had the opportunity for two hours to disciple him and talk to him about his new life as a believer. While we talked, he shared an amazing testimony with me. When he decided to be baptized, his wife was angry and challenged him about going to church when they needed money and food. She thought he was a fool to want to get involved in spiritual things. He decided to come to church and be baptized anyway. He returned home to an angry wife who said, "Look in the fridge. There is nothing to eat." He said that his old self would have reacted badly but he told her that God would provide.
A few minutes later, they saw a small van stop in front of their house and then leave. They went outside and found a big basket full of vegetables, fruits and other food.
The following day, Felix came to Yerevan for a job but it didn't work out and so he was returning now with us to his home. When I heard about his situation, I was ready to help him with a donation. He started weeping because of the way God was providing for him again. I talked to him about our body being the temple of the Lord and pointed out his smoking habit. I explained to him that there are some things he should remember: Smoking would destroy his body and his habit would be a bad testimony of the change in his life. Also, it would affect his family and his finances. After a quiet pause, I heard a noise and turned around. He was crushing his cigarettes and said, "You are absolutely right!" He promised he would not smoke again. He acknowledged he might suffer for a few days but he knew God would help him.
He decided to join us for the road trip and return to Yerevan with us later to continue looking for work.
We met the group from Horom in Vanadzor, another small village. There, we met a woman named Aida who needed a lift to another village. She got into our van because the other buses were full. On the way, I started talking about life and spirituality. She said that, during the communist regime, she had become an atheist and she still had problems believing that there is a God. She said she was happy to have met me and that nothing happened by chance but everything has a purpose. She repeated this a couple of times so I asked her, "If there is no God, who created the purpose for everything?" I told her that every heart has a God-shaped vaccuum or hole and she agreed that she had one, too. Eventually, she said that she would like to have that emptiness filled with God. I gave her a tract and asked her to pray the prayer at the end of it, and I also gave her one of my books. She said she would begin attending church. Please pray for Aida.
After dropping her off, we continued on to Dilijan, the third largest city in Armenia. We were surprised to see how lush and green this area was. It reminded us of Canada or Switzerland. We spent some time there and gathered as a large group (there were about 45 of us) for worship and I shared a message, encouraging the people to reach out into their communities and to support their pastor.
Our next stop was Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan), the largest lake in Armenia and the Caucasus region. The children and youth were able to swim for a while and we had lunch there. Before we left, I had another opportunity to share a few words with the men, while Ann-Margret spoke to the ladies.
At that point, we decided to return to Yerevan instead of continuing with the group who had two more stops before they were to return to Horom.
Stay tuned for more news. We will also be updating our photo album soon.