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ՏԻԿ. ՎԵՐԱ ՍՎԱՃԵԱՆ
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On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Armenia and the 55th anniversary of Haigaizan University, in cooperation with the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Diaspora, Haigazian University and Yerevan State University, the “Armenia-Diaspora Cooperation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” conference took place at Haigaizan University in Beirut from September 5 to September 7, 2011.
The official opening of the conference took place on Monday, September 5, 2011. The speakers at the official opening session were the Ambassador of the Armenian Republic in Lebanon, HE Mr. Ashod Kocharian, the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, the President of the Yerevan State University, Rector Prof. Aram Simonian and the Minister of Diaspora, Dr. Hranoush Hagopian.
Among the capacity audience present were Rev. and Mrs. Mgrditch Karagoezian, Archbishops Kegham Khacherian and Vartan Ashkarian, Minister General Panos Manjian, Minister and Mrs. Vrej Sabounjian, MP and Mrs. Serj Toursakissian, MP Jean Oghassapian, MP Hagop Pakradouni, MP Shant Chinchinian, MP Sebouh Kalpakian, and numerous political, academic and community leaders and guests.
During the first session, Tuesday, September 6, 2011 (moderator Dr. Arda Ekmekji) Minister Hranoush Hagopian spoke on the governmental policies regarding the promotion of Armenia-Diaspora cooperation. Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian discussed the educational aspect of Armenia-Diaspora cooperation and Rector Prof. Simonian discussed the Armenological aspect of this cooperation.
During the next session (moderator Armen Urneshlian) Dr. Razmig Panossian elaborated on the theoretical aspects, concerns and proposals regarding the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation, whereas Dr. Edward Melkonian spoke about the political aspects of the first twenty years of Armenia-Diaspora relations.
During the third session (moderator Baruyr Aghbashian) Dr. Prof. Yuri Avedissian discussed the role of the educational institutions in the Armenian Republic related to the Armenian Diaspora and stressed that the current cooperation could and should be furthered. The second speaker, Dr. Serj Srabionyan, gave a brief picture of the Lebanese Armenian literature.
On Wednesday, September 7, 2011, during the fourth session, (moderator Dr. Zaven Messerlian) Dr. Mher Hovanissian highlighted the current challenges of the websites dedicated to Armenian Studies within the context of Armenia-Diaspora cooperation. Next, Mr. Shahan Kandaharian spoke on the difficulties Lebanese Armenian media faced regarding the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation. During the second session of the day (moderator Dr. Anshalouys Topalian) Ishkhan Chiftchian presented the differences between the Armenia and Diaspora identities and the means and modes to reach a common ground. Dr. Antranik Dakessian concluded with a discussion regarding the integration of Armenians from Armenia into the Lebanese Armenian community.
Discussions and debates followed each of the sessions. It was recommended that further investigation and discussions are needed to clarify existing diversities in defining and stating certain relevant concepts and the ways in addressing them; such as the concept of fatherland, identity and integration. Eventually it was suggested that such conferences are the adequate venue to discuss and debate about such topics and after extensive presentations and discussions to reach conclusions, which take into consideration diverse peculiarities of the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora.
The participants of the conference drew the following resolution: “We, the participants of the conference assure that the Yerevan State University and the Haigazian University have an exceptional role to play in the Armenia-Diapsora educational and pedagogical cooperation field, especially in the preparation of Armenian leaders and professionals, with the support of the Diaspora Ministry of Armenia.
“It is hoped that the issues that were discussed in the conference are taken into consideration in the future plans of the Yerevan State University Diaspora Research Center and the Armenian Diaspora Research Center of Haigazian University” the resolution concluded.
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Armenia, Internship, Summer, Faith, Mission trip, Kids, VBS, New group. These were the words that were going through my mind before Vahe Jebejian and I flew from Beirut to Armenia on July 15. This summer I had the opportunity of participating in the Internship program that the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) had organized. It was a 3 week program which included two weeks of service in Armenia and another additional and optional week in Lebanon. A group of young adults traveled from different parts of the USA and Canada and thus we were a complete group of 21 people in Armenia. The Internship was led by our enthusiastic Rev. Nishan Bakalian as well as Pastor Shant Barsoumian and Anahid Dolabjian.The main purpose of this trip was to serve and to grow spiritually. We had daily devotionals, verse memorizing times, sightseeing, in addition to getting acquainted with the ministries of the AMAA there through visitations and seminars. After spending a couple of days in Yerevan, we were divided into two groups and each went to a different village/town: Pert and Armavir. Our main focus during that first week was to lead and help with the Vacation Bible Schools. It was a very good experience to play, entertain and learn with the village kids. These kids were different than the children I usually see in Lebanon, they had very simple lives, they enjoyed running in the streets and playing in the gardens, and most of them had only a few pair of clothes but that did not seem to bother them. They were full of energy and enthusiasm, and they had loving hearts. Seeing their smiles every morning and hearing them call “Garin Kooyr” used to brighten my days and make me thank God for putting children in our lives. We enjoyed singing with them, preparing sketches, teaching them new songs, helping them during the arts and crafts hours and supporting the local leaders in every possible way. It was surprising to see how well prepared and organized the local leaders were. Although they did not have lots of equipments but they had the talent of creating many things from the simple supplies they had. When we first met the VBS leaders we did not know who they were, but because we were all there for the same purpose and because we all had God’s love in our hearts, we felt like a big family and were able to transfer that love to the children. On one of the walls where we did the VBS we drew a graffiti saying “God is Love” and “Աստուած Սէր է” which will be a nice reminder of our visit and service in Pert. We also visited many village families and elderly people. At first, it was not easy to see them in the poor circumstances that they were living in, but seeing them smile and seeing the happiness inside them filled us with hope. Experiencing this helped us learn to be thankful for the small gifts we have in life because we realized how God had immensely blessed us, our families and our lives. Being able to live this experience in Armenia and serving there was a different feeling. Our motherland was the best place to make a difference and to feel God’s love and power through the work we were doing there.
After a challenging week in Pert, and the other group in Armavir, the whole group reunited and was back in Yerevan. We had the opportunity of joining and participating in one of the teen camps at the AMAA’s Shoghig camp site in Hankavan. It was wonderful to see the large number of teenagers who were there to learn and to have a better relationship with God. After spending two whole weeks in Armenia, it was time to say the sad goodbye to part of our group and to our dear Hayrenik. Eight interns and Badveli continued to Lebanon for the 3rd week of the Internship which included 3 days of VBS at the Trad Social Center in Beirut, visiting needy families, touring, and having a bible study with the Emmanuel church’s Chanitz.
It was remarkable to see how God planned the trip and gave each and every one of us the opportunity to do something special for Him. This unforgettable experience was a true blessing in which I learned many things, made new friends, and most importantly strengthened my faith and trust in the Lord!
Blessed be His name!
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On Sunday, September 11 - the nineth worship service, for the summer of year 2011, was held in Mrouj Church. The Chanitz youth of the Marash Church participated and led the service. Mr. Anto Messerlian, chairman of the Trustees' Committee, gave the sermon. Mr. Ara Khederian, recording secretary of the Trustees' Committee, led the worship. Ms. Aline Khederian, chairman of the Chanitz youth, read the passage from the Bible.
After the service, the Chanitz youth had fellowship.
HACKENSACK, N.J.—The Board of Elders of the Armenian Bible Church of Hackesnack announced the appointment of Rev. Dikran Youmshakian as pastor as of Aug. 1. An installation service will be held on Sun., Sept. 18, at 12:30 p.m., and will be followed by a reception at the church hall. The installation service will be officiated by Rev. Thomas W. Keinath, D.Min, the senior pastor of Calvary Temple of Wayne, N.J., who will also give the sermon that day.
Pastor Dikran is a graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary with a master’s degree in theological studies. For 26 years he has served the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) as administrator and field director. He has traveled extensively and preached the Word of God in various churches in the U.S. and abroad. Since January 2011, he has served Dorcas Aid America (DorAid) as its executive director. DorAid is the newly established partner of Dorcas Aid International, a Christian relief and development organization serving in 20 countries.
For the last two years, Rev. Dikran served the Armenian Bible Church as a visiting pastor. As its minister, he will be responsible to lead the church and its activities and through the grace of our Lord bring the Gospel of Jesus to all. The Armenian Bible Church is an independent Christian fellowship and has been in existence as a church since 2008. The main purpose of the church is to proclaim the Gospel and support those who had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
The Armenian Bible Church is located on 67 S. Prospect Ave. in Hackensack. It has a lively group of mainly young members and families. Sunday worship services are held at 12:30 p.m. in Armenian with English translation for those who do not speak Armenian. The services are also broadcast on Cable TV on Fridays. The church has a very active Sunday School and a dynamic youth group. Sunday School is held during worship at 12:30. The youth meet on Sundays in the afternoon. All are welcome to join the church.
If we want to know what is the most popular game in the entire world? It is the Blame Game, whose number of players far exceeds the Facebook’s Farmville (82 million active users), Super Mario Brothers 3 or Fifa 2011. Every human being who has ever been born or lived, somewhere in his/her life played this game.
The Bible tells us that the first players of this game were Adam and Eve. In Genesis chapter three we read about the Serpent who has lead Eve to question what God had said. Eve got into a dialogue with the Devil and she saw that "the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom; she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it”. When they hear the Lord God walking in the garden they run for cover, because their conscience was condemning them.
And here starts the game. In response to God's question “Where are you?” Adam tells the Almighty that he was naked and afraid so he went into hiding. But when God asks him “Who told you that you were naked?” instead of naming what he did, Adam directly blames the woman: “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” The first person he blames is Eve;
Adam not only blames his wife, but he goes and blames the Lord himself. He says “The woman YOU put here with me…” Adam is kind of playing the blame game with God, as if saying to God, if you wouldn’t have given me this woman, I never would have done it.
Reading the story we see that the game is not over. After the half-time the blaming keeps going when Eve gets into the playground and answers God’s question: “What is this you have done?” Instead of naming it, she uses all her linguistic skills and says: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” She attributes her faults to the Evil One.
Adam and Eve were trying to get rid of taking personal responsibility. Their behavior tells us that that left to ourselves; we do anything to avoid taking personal responsibility for our actions.
When we call this behavior a "game", people might think that it does not really affect lives. On the contrary, it ruins lives and relationships. People blame their spouses saying "If only he weren’t so lazy, then I wouldn’t blow up". People blame their parents saying "if only they have provided me with some money". People blame God for everything that happens in their lives; loosing a job or a loved one or just a general lack of happiness. I know of some people that praise themselves for their success and blame God for their failures.
There is this famous story which illustrates the fact that we should not jump and blame others for what we can stand and feel responsible for. One evening several college students spread limburger cheese on the upper lip of a sleeping roommate. Upon awakening the young man sniffed, looked around, and said, “This room stinks!” He then walked into the hall and said, “This hall stinks!” Leaving the dormitory he exclaimed, “The whole world stinks!”
I believe it is the time to surrender our hearts and selves to the wisdom of the Word that was uttered by the psalmist when he wrote
"23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
… and find look at ourselves before blaming others. May the Lord God be our help. Amen.
Rev. Vatche Ekmekjian,
Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church, CA
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