Interviewing Liza Barsoumian about the Daily Vacation Bible School of 2015

The Daily Vacation Bible School is one of the primary outreaching and evangelising ministries of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in general and the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church in particular. Why? Well, simply it's a unique ministry where we as a church can reach out beyond our neighbourhood of Amanos area and invite children who attend other schools during academic year.
In order to gain further knowledge about the DVBS, we had this quick interview with Ms. Liza Barsoumian who is leading this year's summer school for the third year now.

(Interview by Raffi)

Liza Barsoumian with the DVBS children
Raffi - What will the children learn this year, regarding Christian principles?
Liza - Daily Vacation Bible School is one of the most successful forms of outreach for children. Every child needs to hear about God, not only once, but multiple times. This year Children will learn the basic concept of praising God for His power, providence, love, authority and greatness.

Raffi - How many children have registered in DVBS?
Liza - More than 150 Children

Raffi - The number of children registering has increased, what do you think are the reasons?
Liza - Children’s ministry is fun, rewarding and an opportunity to make a long-lasting impact on children and their families. Daily Vacation Bible School is simply fun and children love it. When children have fun, they are more likely to pay attention, learn and invite their friends. We make sure that our Vacation Bible School is worth attending through its organized and prepared activities.

Promotion is vital to any successful program, and it can turn a simple event into a significant outreach program. Vacation bible school needs special promotion, for that reason we used posters, fliers, announcements and reminders. Social media is significant as well in promoting an important program as Vacation Bible School, so we created facebook page dedicated to our DVBS to share lots of pictures of our fun and exciting activities and children being part of that excitement.

Raffi - How did you choose your teachers and helpers?
Liza - There are certain characteristics leaders of DVBS need to have, and they are chosen accordingly:
  • Good relationship with God
  • Biblical knowledge
  • Loves Children
  • Teachable
  • Team player
  • Cooperative
  • Responsible
  • Ready to learn
  • Dependable

Raffi - Other institutions and NGOs are organizing DVBS programs, what do you think is the importance for the church to initiate a DVBS?
Liza - There are many institutions and NGOs organizing summer school activities for children and not DVBS programs. As the name and the title indicates ,the major difference between these institutions and our churches is on what they focus on, while other institutions focus on creating fun, recreational activities for children, our churches focus on biblical priorities. DVBS is an outreach ministry focusing on Jesus and helping children to have loving and good relationship with Him and eventually becoming mature adults of faith.

Raffi - What kind of difficulties are you facing this year?
Liza - This year we are facing two major difficulties:
  • Transportation
    More children are deprived from the opportunity of attending DVBS and be part of this great ministry.
  • Number of leaders
    This year we are blessed with more than 150 children, and only 14 leaders. More work, dedication and readiness are expected from the leaders.

Raffi - What are the various aspects that will help to have a successful DVBS?
Liza - Daily Vacation Bible School is one of the most important outreach programs for children as said earlier, it is designed to provide fun time of learning about God and enjoy stories from the Bible, singing, crafts, games, and making good relationship with friends and leaders. In order to make DVBS effective and successful, different aspects are needed:
  • Responsible Leaders and volunteers
  • Enough budget to plan different activities
  • Good advertisement
  • Transportation
  • Parents’ Support
  • Church ( Pastor, Elders , Executive Committee ) Support

Events and Activities of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church's Chanits Youth

During a Bible study, with Mrs. Yester Kilaghbian (on the right) leading the study

Youth outing

The youth participating in the CE Executive Body's banquet, held in the Armenian Evangelical First Church's hall. The youth were serving the tables.

Participating with a choir and leading the worship of the church, during Christian Endeavour Sunday

Several junior youth graduating from Badaniats and passing to Chanits during Christian Endeavour Sunday

AMAA Addresses Turkish Leaders Requesting Intervention at CAMP ARMEN near Istanbul

AMAA Addresses Turkish Leaders
Requesting Intervention at CAMP ARMEN near Istanbul

Paramus, NJ ― In response to the recent news of the partial demolition of CAMP ARMEN in the Tuzla District near Istanbul, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) has written to the President, Prime Minister and the United States Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey asking for their intervention and support.
During the partial demolition of the Camp in early May, a group of Armenians from Turkey, including some of the former students of the Youth Home of Istanbul, who grew up in Camp Armen, rushed to the site and are keeping guard day and night, thus halting further demolition of the Camp.  Among those who went to the Camp was Rakel Dink, the widow of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.
In the letters, Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA, asked that the Turkish leaders strongly consider an intervention and an immediate resolution to avoid further demolition of this historically significant and beloved Camp and to secure the return of the property to its rightful owners, the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedik Pasa in Istanbul.
“We are imploring the help of the Turkish leaders in this matter,” said Mr. Khanjian.  “Camp Armen was home to over 1,500 Armenian orphans who were gathered from the depths of Anatolia and was where Hrant and Rakel Dink met, grew up and were married.  The Camp was a labor of love for the orphans and it became their ‘Atlantis’ civilization.  It is an important part of a very meaningful chapter in our Armenian history, and one which we do not want to lose. We pray that God will grant us all a peaceful resolution of this legal struggle.”
The AMAA calls upon other Armenian churches and organizations to raise their voices and send similar letters and requests to the leaders of the Turkish government.
Founded in 1918 in Worcester, MA, the Armenian Missionary Association of America serves the religious, educational and social needs of Armenian communities in 24 countries around the world.  AMAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For additional information, you may call AMAA at 201.265.2607 or visit the website at

Demolition of Istanbul Armenian orphanage pauses, amid outcry

During these troubling times in Syria comes a dreadful news to demolish Camp Armen of Tuzla, Turkey. As a quick history, the campsite was found and bought through the efforts of Hrant Guzelian, who also endeavored to go to the depths of Anatolia to find lost and hidden Armenian children. He brought them to Badanegan Doon below the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpasha, Istanbul. Hrant Dink and Rakel Dink have lived and grown up there.
Today, Garabet Orunöz, who himself has grown up in Badanegan Doon, and many activists are joining to stop the demolition.
As a tribute to Hrant Guzelian, the father of Badanegan Doon, we share with you this touching video that we had prepared in 2007.
Note: administration informs the Armenian Evangelical community worldwide to support #KampArmen (search in Facebook), to stop the demolition.

Demolition of Istanbul Armenian orphanage pauses, amid outcry

Source: Agos newspaper

Demolition that began in the early hours of the day at Tuzla Children’s Camp, also known as Kamp Armen, was stopped with the intervention of activists, members of the public and politicians that gathered at the site. The waiting continues.

Heavy demolition equipment belonging to a private company entered the Tuzla Camp around 10 AM, and began demolishing the buildings.

The camp is among the most symbolically significant of Armenian community properties unlawfully seized by the State. The camp had become a home for impoverished Armenian children who in the aftermath of 1915, were forced to come to Istanbul since Anatolia had been left devoid of Armenian schools. The school was once home to around 1500 children including Hrant Dink, Rakel Dink and Member of Parliament Erol Dora.

The camp had been in a derelict state recently, and faced the threat of demolition.

In last week’s headline, Agos used the hashtag #StopDemolitionOfKampArmen with a report on the story of the camp, and the legal struggle to secure its return to the foundation, and stop its demolition.

Uygar Gültekin, from Agos, reported that the 5 rooms where the children stayed, the room of Hrant Güzelyan, the legendary director of the camp, the chapel and the peripheral walls were demolished.

When the news of the demolition spread, a group of people gathered at the camp and succeeded in stopping the demolition.

HDP parliamentary candidates Garo Paylan, Sezin Uçar and Beste Kaplan, HDP provincial administrators, CHP Tuzla Province President Ali Çelik, Nor Zartonk activists, and former camp member Garabet Orunöz are among those gathered at the site.

Although the demolition has been thwarted for now, it is unclear what the next step will be.

How did the State seize the camp?

The land of the camp, purchased by the Gedikpaşa Armenian Protestant Church Foundation, was returned - along with the facilities constructed on the site with the efforts of the children who studied there - by the State to its first owner on the basis of the 1936 Declaration, and the seizure process of the camp was completed when the Court of Cassation approved the decree of the local court in 1987.

The foundation administration tried all legal means for the return of the camp, however the efforts remained fruitless. Even the cases filed for compensation for the facilities built on the land were inconsequential.

When in 2011, a change in the Law on Foundations triggered a process for the return of seized foundation properties; an application was made to the Foundations General Directorate for the Tuzla Children’s Camp as well. However, the Foundations General Directorate, on the basis of the legal annulment of the sale of the Tuzla Camp, did not treat the file as a ‘seized property’ file, and thus the return of the camp or the payment of compensation did not take place. The demolition of the camp, which begun today, was scheduled to begin within the month of May.

Christmas Concert in the Armenian Evangelical Church of Ashrafieh

The Armenian Evangelical Church of Ashrafieh had the idea to hold a Christmas concert this year with the vision of bringing people together for a special night organized and performed through its multitalented church band.

The event carried a lot of promise from the start off and took months of planning and preparation to reach fruition. It was a challenge for the band to prepare something different from the customary banquet showings or previous concerts done during various occasions. Extra attention was paid this time to the details of decoration, lighting, costumes, slideshow presentations… etc. The music was newly arranged and practiced persistently. The idea was to overwhelm the comers with the spirit of Christmas and joy through the beautiful tunes and melodies.

The concert comprised of a total of 14 songs, which were offered to the crowd in different arrangements of the band. They included a 4 voice a Capella, a cheering song by a group of Sunday school students and a grand finale Christmas medley in a night that was both heartening and magical.

Band members included: Aren Deyirmenjian (Piano), Garin Haidostian (Violin, Vocals), Hagop Harfushian (Bass, Saxophone, Vocals), Lori Yacoubian (Flute), Nareg Tavitian (Drums), Raffee Parseghian (Drums) and Shahan Kilaghbian (Keyboard, Guitar, Bass, Vocals). Outstanding vocalists accompanied them during different songs including Jirayr Ghazarian, who performed two sing-alongs inviting the crowd to join in worship. Garin Haidostian sang a mix-translated “Mary Did You Know” in both Armenian and English. Sero Kelougian sang Armenian Christmas song “Kishern Ichav Meghmig Lour”. Minas Atamian performed classic Christmas songs such as “O Holy Night” and “The Christmas Song” along with a duet in “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Talar Haidostian. Talar also had solos in “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and a duet in “Winter Wonderland” with sister Garin Haidostian.

The concert turned out to be a major success both in terms of performance and attendance. The Armenian Evangelical Church of Ashrafieh was packed with over 400 people with some having to stand outside only to listen to the music. The general response was greatly satisfying as people came up on stage after Rev. Kilaghbian’s benediction and congratulated the members.

The band will aim to build on this with future concerts and events, God willing. With His strength, hopes and expectations are high to reach out to different people through music and worship.

Aren Deyirmenian

An Interview with Badveli Sevag Trashian on the Occasion of His Installation as the Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church

In 2014, the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church of Nor Amanos bid farewell to Rev. Hovannes Svajian and his family, who have relocated to Montreal Canada and are serving in the sister church, the Armenian Evangelical Church of Laval. Today, we have a new pastor, badveli Sevag Trashian, who has previously served as pastor of the Armenian Evangelical churches in the Kessab region of Syria. In order to get to know badveli Sevag, we asked him a few questions about him and his ministry, and we've come up with this interview that we share with you.

(Interview conducted by Raffi Chilingirian)

Badveli Sevag Trashian in the church office

Raffi - Can you tell our readers about yourself (years of service, education, faith)? 
Badv. Sevag -

I did my primary and secondary education at Souren Khanamirian Armenian College. As a pre-Theology student I finished my degree in Education specializing in Teaching English with a Teaching Diploma from Haigazian University in 2002. After my bachelors degree from Haigazian University I was enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program at the Near East School of Theology completing it in 2005.

In 1994 I started attending the Junior Youth group at the Armenian Evangelical Church
Nor Marash. My interest in God started developing as I experienced the love and care of God through the leaders at the youth group who had exemplary faith and enthusiasm in serving Jesus Christ. At one of the Youth meetings I took a decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. In 1996 I passed on to the young adults group at the church and there my enthusiasm to serve the Lord grew in me. I could not see myself doing anything else but being involved in full time ministry as I was finishing my school education.
Our God works in mysterious ways accomplishing his will through us who are willing to submit to his will. We have to humbly trust him our lives our churches our ministry and be faithful in answering his call.

Years of service
After my graduation from the Near East School of Theology in 2005 I started my full time ministry on July the 2nd 2005 at The Armenian Evangelical Holy Trinity Church Kessab Syria. I served there the local Kaladouran Church too until the 1st f December 2014. In the spring of 2011 I became the pastor of the rest of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Kessab region, namely Keorkuneh and Ekizolouk churches. Currently I am the pastor of The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church of Nor Amanos Lebanon after serving the field in Kessab for nine and a half years.

Raffi - Why did you choose to become a pastor? 
Badv. Sevag - After joining the junior youth group at the Armenian Evangelical Church in Nor Marash Lebanon I had great passion to serve the Lord full time. I could not see myself in any other field. I attended that year summer of 1995 the joint Youth camp in Kessab where there were over 150 young people from the different regions of the world. The topic of the camp was
"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."Mathew 9:37-38
I was immediately taken by this verse and thought about it and prayed that if this was a call for me to apply for full time service and ministry. The Lord guided me after this camp until I was accepted by the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East to study theology for the purpose of becoming a pastor after graduation.

Raffi - What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church? 
Badv. Sevag - The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church is an active church within the Armenian community in Nor Amanos. It has had throughout the years, since its founding in 1970s a great impact and influence on its surrounding through the dedication enthusiasm and service of its members and leaders. I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to serve at the Emmanuel church. I would redefine the words strengths and weaknesses as ongoing fruitful ministries and areas where more work can be done.
We as a church have successful ministries with children namely DVBS and Sunday school, with teens through our junior youth group and with young adults through our Young adults group. Of course more work and outreach can be done through these groups. However they are already a blessing to the children teens and young people who attend these programs.
Our Ladies group is also dynamic providing support and service to the different church activities and is a place where mothers and young ladies and elderly get spiritual nourishment through the worship services they attend.
It is a blessing for us at the Emmanuel church that we have devoted , talented and enthusiastic leaders. Some serve in the different committees of church for certain periods of time while others are leading the different groups.
It is a blessing and a great opportunity for us to be situated within the Armenian community in Nor Amanos. It also puts a great responsibility on us to have a good witness and an impact.
We can do more in increasing church attendance on Sundays by visiting our parishioners and by encouraging those who attend to be active in bringing their family members and their immediate friends to church.
We can do more in encouraging young people to attend church on Sundays.
We can do more in reaching out to the Armenian community in which we live. Specially the young people teens and youth.

We can do more in the field of social work by reaching out to the different needs and challenges of our people.
We can do more in preparing leaders from the new generation equipping them with proper training.

Raffi - 4- On which aspect of the ministry will you concentrate on for and through the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church? 
Badv. Sevag - As the scriptures say the church is like a Family and The body of Christ meaning there is diversity within the Church. Every branch or part, age group , within the Church in my opinion is important and contributes to the witness and the ministry of the church. My pastoral calling and service will be to oversee and to work closely with all with the Lord’s help and guidance by encouraging empowering each so that they reach their assigned goals. My focus will be also to encourage our people to be more involved in the different ministries of the church. To go beyond attendance into active presence and service. I believe that the Lord will lead us this year through the different ministries at our church and will entrust us with new ministries if we are faithful with the few that we already have.

Announcement: Opening Ceremony at KCHAG - Lebanon

On May 9, 2015, we will witness the opening of the 4 dorms and bugallows of our dear KCHAG, the Christian Endeavor campsite of Lebanon.
Friends from USA and from Armenia will be present with us to share our joy as KCHAG becomes even more healthy and lively and ready to host even more young men and women.
This is the campsite where many have encountered Jesus, have given their lives to follow Him, and have renewed their lives here.