Ukrainians Take Good Soil Training to Armenia

Categories: Stories

By Wayne Haston

Ukrainians Take Good Soil Training to Armenia

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Vladimir Nikolaev is the director of the Church Ministries Institute (CMI) based in Ukraine. The CMI was founded by ABWE missionaries in 1994 and is dedicated to preparing men and women for quality ministry in the local church, equipping them with discipleship and evangelism training, and enabling them to build growing churches throughout Eurasia. The few evangelical Baptist churches in Armenia have been partnering with the CMI to start a Bible school in Armenia under the leadership of Haik Khachaturian. This past fall, Vladimir, Haik and others had the opportunity to hold the first Good Soil Evangelism & Discipleship seminar in Armenia with some incredible results.

Armenia is a unique country. One of the oldest countries in the world, the Armenian people have lived in the Caucasus region of Eurasia for thousands of years. With a population of 3 million, it has the highest emigration percentage in the world, and as many Armenians live abroad as do in the country. Though they have been conquered many times throughout history, including the first genocide of the 20th century when the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million of them between 1915 and 1923, they have kept a strong cultural identity and heritage. In fact, almost 98% of the population are of ethnic Armenian origin.

Part of this cultural identity is religious. Tradition holds that Christianity was introduced in the first century by the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus. The kingdom of Armenia was the first nation to make Christianity its official religion in 301 A.D., and there has been a very strong cultural connection with the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is the official state church. To most, “Armenian” and “Christian” are thought of as synonymous. Though 94% of Armenians consider themselves Christians, only 1% of these are evangelical. Over 50% of Armenians call themselves highly religious and an amazing 79% say they believe in God with absolute certainty, and yet only a third of them attend church once a month and the Armenian Church is more of a cultural than spiritual institution. Most of them have never heard, let alone understood, the gospel message.

Given this background, it was amazing that when the training was held at the Armenian Baptist Church, not only was it attended by evangelical pastors and leaders of various Christian organizations, but also by representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Vladimir and Haik had worked hard over a period six months to have the first edition of the GSED training manual, along with The Story of Hope and The Way to Joy, translated into the Armenian language. All thirty-five participants were impressed with the quality of the materials and the relevance to the Armenian context. Even more amazing was that those from the Armenian state church saw great value in the resources and have asked for another seminar to be done with another group of their church leaders in January 2020!

Vladimir stated, “The Good Soil workshop in Armenia is the result of many prayers, and of the hard work of a team of translators, editors, donors, ABWE, and CMI.” He asks for prayer for the final editing of the training manuals and for continued training in Armenia. Pray that God would bring many to understand and embrace the gospel in this historic nation.

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