This is, at this point, a difficult blog to write. I needed time to process what I knew (which was almost nothing), what I now know and how I felt about this knowledge.
I was in Izmir (ancient name: Smyrna, as in Revelation 2:8), Türkiye recently to attend the ICETE Consultation 22. We discussed on issues related to theological education, both formal and non-formal, re-connected with old friends and connected with new ones. It was a time of learning, reflecting and enjoying good fellowship. Well, our hotel was just ‘next-door’ to Ephesus, about 11 minutes car-ride away and I was excited to visit it with my friends. A week earlier, I had visited Pammukale by myself with a small cozy group of strangers from India, USA and Spain.
During both visits, the tour guides never mentioned the historic background that is a thread all the way to Armenia. So, imagine my surprise and shock as I learnt the truth about the regions in Türkiye and how they acquired these beautiful, lucrative regions.
My first stop in Armenia was to visit the Genocide Museum – very impressive, grand, an honor to many who lost their lives and who were forced to experience Islamic atrocities. Every Armenian soldier, foreign missionary and foreign diplomat who stood against the genocide of Armenians in 1915 AD, were remembered. There were hundreds and hundreds of trees planted in memory of the fallen ones. An eternal fire in the museum is a clear reminder of the cry of the Armenian people for the Justice that they have been denied by world bodies. I asked my friends, “How long have you been waiting for Justice?” And they said, “for a long, long time”.
There were about 1.5 million Armenians, 300,000 Assyrians and 750,000 Greeks who were massacred by the Turks. It was the first of the 20th Century genocides and it was for the faith in Christ.
How do you respond when the element of genocide is whittled down to just another story? What do you do when the genocide is not owned by the perpetrators? What do you do when most of the world is brought or bought into a system that supports the perpetrators and ignores the injustice? How is it even possible to discuss any other invasions and wars at the same table when justice has not been meted in this genocide?
The whole visit jolted me. You see, I had only known about the Holocaust; I never heard about the Armenian Genocide in history lessons in school (as a matter of history) or seminary (as a matter of martyrdom). I wonder if it would be useful to learn these lessons of 20th Century persecutions, worldly injustice and faith endurance in Christ?
The following article tells the brief story of an intense genocide: Armenian Genocide
And here is an excerpt from the article:
My curiosity was piqued as I read the descriptions of the genocide. The plight of the soldiers and young women especially moved me. Imagine young Armenian women being kidnapped, raped and tortured by the Turks; in order to shame them further, the young women were also converted forcefully to Islam and marked with tattoos.
Do visit The Armenian Genocide Museum page for more information.
Click right or left to see a couple more photos.
Imagine my astonishment when I discovered that Izmir belonged to what Armenians call “Western Armenia” and now, I was curious. Armenians pride themselves of their nation’s biblical history. How far did this extend? Well, in my conversations with Armenian friends, I discovered that
1. The Mountains of Ararat as mentioned in Genesis 8:4 informs that Ararat is a place. Look at 2 Kings 19:37. The Hebrew for Ararat is Urartu.
2. Ararat is also a kingdom that was summoned to destroy Babylon (Jeremiah 51:27)
3. Armenians consider Japheth, the son of Noah as their founding father. (Genesis 10:3; Ezekiel 27:14, 38:6)
4. The Ararat region, Izmir (Smyrna) was once in the kingdom of Armenia! Let us not be deceived as people re-write history. Even as I write this blog, the history of Nakhchivan and Artsakh regions of Armenia are in the process of being re-written and the world is quiet…
5. Biblical Armenia or historic Armenia was from coast-to-coast. See map below:
I further learnt that St. Gregory the Illuminator was responsible for the conversion of the pagan king Tiridates the Great around 301 AD and that through him, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as their official religion. In 405 AD, the Armenian alphabet was invented by Mesrop Mashtots and the Bible was translated. This helped Christianity to be rooted further in Armenia. Even as good achievements were being made, politically it was a challenge. Armenia, after being under many empires and dynasties lost their kingdom status in 428 AD. It was abolished by Persia and the appointed rulers.
What shocked me more is the current predicament that Armenia faces even as I blog. Does anyone know that Azeris are moving in closer and taking more Armenian land and hurting the people further? Well, neither did I. The mainstream media is not interested in sounding out for a tiny nation.
This is not a one-sided story – in all conquests and wars, both sides of empires and nations are engaged to win at all costs. What is one-sided about this genocide, it seems to me, is that there is no ownership of the brutal atrocities on Armenians in Armenian soil and there has not been any justice meted by world courts in this matter.
And so, the pain goes on with the hope that someday, someone will listen to the plight and act on this need. For now, only the God of righteousness and justice has inclined His ears and He cannot be mocked.
The mountains of Ararat cry out from Armenia
With the sun shine on its top
That God who brought the torrential rain
Will cause the rest and restoration
Of all who turn their face towards the Son.
The promises of God are right and certain
And He keeps His word
No matter the time,
No matter the passing of many generations.
One day, one generation will be taken into His confidence
And they will see that our God keeps His promises.
He is never too early or too late
For His time is always perfect.
Written on 24 Nov 2022 at Khor Virap, Armenia
(Note: Mount Ararat while it currently stands in Türkiye is always in the hearts of Armenians.
There is a deep longing and ownership in every Armenian heart for this Mount as it reminds them of the God who Knows them best and has chosen their land to Rest the Ark of Noah.)
Because Jesus is the Reason for this Season,