A Day of Friendship

This blogpost is written by Christian Manoukian. He has come all the way from USA to Lebanon and visited the Daily Vacation Bible Schools as well as participated in the Badaniatz youth camp as a leader. This post is about his experience while visiting the DVBS of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church.
(This was originally posted on his blog: 
http://missionstripblog.blogspot.ae/)


Christian Manoukian

by Christian Manoukian
Hello everyone,

Christian here again. This time I am not tired, but my stomach is killing me. It's always something with me. I blame the Lebanese.

So, what a weird corny title, am I right? Friendship, seriously? You traveled thousands of miles across the world to make some friends? You could've done that here. I imagine people saying things like that.

But it's not just about surface-level friendship. The friends I am meeting and getting to know are friends I will hold dear for the rest of my life, even if I've only met them today. These are people that are a blessing to me and I'll never forget.

So who are these friends, and where did you meet them? Well I'm glad you asked.

Today was a true blessing for me. I was privileged to attend Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church's Day Vacation Bible School (VBS) here in Amanos, a primarily Armenian neighborhood here in the capital Beirut. I got to work with the kids and leaders

The friends I made today all are a part in the wonderful program being put on here to teach the young kids all about Christ and share the good news with them.

If I may, I'd like to highlight those who I met and why I appreciate each one of them.

I was first introduced to Haig, who is 21 years old and comes from Aleppo, Syria. He is one of the leaders here at the VBS, and it is easy to see why he was placed in such a position. He is well-spoken and eloquent, and he is incredibly light-hearted and humorous with whoever he meets, and that included me. Even though my Armenian isn't that amazing and his English isn't that amazing, we struck up quite the humorous conversation and were soon joking around and laughing like we had known each other for years. I watched him lead scripture readings and teaching songs to the kids, and I was very impressed by his patience with the children. He had a desire to see them learn and grow, and that is something that should be within each of us as believers of Christ. He is moving to Australia permanently soon with his family; Lebanon will miss the great man of God he is.

Haig, 21, Aleppo, Syria

Haig, 21, Aleppo, Syria

Next, I was introduced to Asadur, who is also 21 and comes from Syria. He is from the town of Kessab, a place that has produced many badvelis and leaders within the Armenian Evangelical church in the past. With that being said, he as well is studying to become a badveli (pastor). He has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and is currently working on his masters in Theology. With that being said, he is a thoughtful, inquisitive, kind-hearted soul with a true hospitable Middle Eastern spirit. He was with Haig when I was introduced to both of them, and they both helped make me feel truly at home when countless other times I've seen people shun the stranger at events like these. He made me feel like family, and for that I am grateful. So friendly was he that we ended up going to coffee later that day with George and another awesome young man named Njdeh. He is a great example to the children he helped lead today and I hope they look up to him and see someone they can aspire to be in the future. 

Asadur leading the kids in worship

Asadur leading the kids in worship

Next I was actually introduced to the head leader of the church's VBS program. Her name is Hrout (Ruth), and since she is a woman and women don't like disclosing their age, especially to some guy who will write about it in their blog, I won't say her age. I was amazed by Hrout's remarkable patience with the kids, especially the YOUNG kids. Young kids are infamously hard to keep still and stay concentrated at VBS programs, as I'm sure many of you reading this know about. But Hrout, to her credit, had them singing beautiful songs and reading out long passages of scripture FROM MEMORY, IN UNISON. When you sit and watch that, it is an amazing sight that brings a smile to your face. You can't help but be awed by someone who has the poise and grace not only to orchestrate and run an entire VBS program with helpers and kids, but also to stay calm and patient AND be able to laugh and joke around at the same time. The Emmanuel Church's VBS program is certainly in the right hands. 

Hrout, about to break out into a smile (she will hate this picture)

Hrout, about to break out into a smile (she will hate this picture)

Next, I met Mariana. She is 20 or 21 as well and comes from Aleppo, Syria. You can see her next to Haig in the first picture. She was one of the leaders for the group of youngest kids (usually the most difficult group, at least in the US). She had an amazing balance of humor and stern discipline; for example, one minute we were laughing after being introduced to each other in a funny way by George, and then a second later, she was sternly discipling one of the kids for not listening to one of the leaders. It's not easy to be able to switch modes that easily, but any good leader needs to have those qualities and she did. She seemed to put on that stern exterior for the kids but I caught her a couple of times laughing cheerfully and joking around with some of the Syrians, and that made me smile. It's good to be a chameleon like that, able to shift if the situation calls for it.

Next, I met Chris. He is one or two years younger than me, but we are the same height (what is new in my world?). He is from here in Lebanon, and he is one of those kids that no matter what he says, it is HILARIOUS. Time and time again, I found myself rolling around in laughter because of his humor and back-and-forth remarks with George. I also found out his VBS job specialty is taking kids to the bathroom, which is a necessary job that no one wants; bravo to him for doing it with a smile and zero complaints. Chris and his best friend George are a dynamic duo; you would love to be around them. You will hurt yourself from laughing too hard. He is a talented musician as well, and I hope that God continues to use his gifts to witness to others. 

This is Chris, the only Lebanese to wear a shirt that says 'USA Rocks'   

This is Chris, the only Lebanese to wear a shirt that says 'USA Rocks'

 

Lastly, later in the day, I was introduced to Njdeh. I didn't catch his age, nor do I have a picture of him, but I know one thing: he is studying Math here in Lebanon for his degree. My first thought was 'you're crazy', followed by the thought that if I was majoring in Math, where would the nearest balcony be I could throw myself off of (and believe me, there are many balconies in Beirut and the drivers will NOT stop, so its a guarantee you're dead). But in all seriousness, Njdeh proved to be just like the rest, a remarkably driven and humorous young man who sees himself working as a professor of math or some similar subject in the near future. If I'm not mistaken, he may already actually teach. He has a real passion for the badaniats (youth) as well, and he is one of the leaders of the famous Camp Kchag in the mountains outside of Beirut. He is a joy to talk with, and I enjoyed our time together immensely. Kchag, you are in good hands. 

I am grateful to each and everyone I met today, and even if it was only briefly and/or I don't have a picture of them, I am thankful I worked alongside them at VBS and elsewhere today. Each of you have become lifelong friends. You not only helped me assimilate but showed me all the Fruits of the Spirit as well, which happens to be the theme of Emmanuel Church's VBS program this week.  

How fitting then, that their leaders all act out in their daily lives the VERY SAME Fruits of the Spirit they are teaching about; that is what we as Christians should all aspire to, to not just read and memorize God's word, but to go and act it out in our daily lives.  

Read on, my friends.

Love, Christian (Day 4)


P.S.--- And, and of course, I can't forget the children. What a joy they were to teach, play with, and be around. Truly, they blessed me more than I coud have ever hoped to have blessed them. Thanks, kids. Without further delay, here are some of the kids. Keep them in your prayers; I know I will.

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







Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church's DVBS 2012

The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church's Daily Vacation Bible School opened its doors on Monday, 2 July, which lasted for 4 weeks. Mrs. Ruth Yunisses was the general leader, with whom several junior youth served as a team.
More than 75 children participated, their ages ranging from 4 to 12.

The kindergarten sections usually started with worship, during which they learned new songs and Psalm 117. The main theme was "God's promises that He keeps".
The schedule of the kindergarten sections was:
On Monday and Tuesday, crafts
On Wednesday, pool
On Thursday, movies
On Friday, visits

The Elementary sections usually started with worship. The main theme was "Jesus and His parables".
The schedule of the Elementary sections was:
On Monday, activities (drama, dance, sports)
On Tuesday, games
On Wednesday, pool
On Thursday, general knowledge
They visited "Kiki Monkey", "Ala Cabana", and "Putt Putt".

On Thursday, 26 July, the graduation ceremony took place, where the children presented what they had learned during the 4 weeks.

The serving leaders were: Ms. A. Kazezian, Ms. L. Yunisses, Ms. K. Simidian, Ms. S. Hanneyan, Ms. R. Avedanian, Ms. N. Svajian, Ms. V. Kalousdian, Ms. A. Demirjian, Mrs. J. Ghazarian, Mr. S. Ohanian, Mr. B. Khamissian, and Mr. K. Khamissian.

We thank all the servants and praise God.










































Children's Camp 2011

At the pool
Once again, I had the privilege to be a leader at the Children’s Camp in Anjar. My first experience last year was so amazing that I decided to volunteer again. Therefore, I would like to thank the committee for selecting me and giving me the chance to serve as a leader at the Children’s Camp.


Games
We were overall 61 children and 14 leaders. The number of leaders may sound big, but I still ask myself how we could have run this Camp smoothly without each and everyone’s help. The leaders’ group included: Hagop Akbasharian, our main leader, Liza Hekimian, our badkamaper, Jiro Ghazarian, Jano Baghboudarian, Zaven Bardakjian, Sero Kelougian, Gassia Danaoghlian, Aline Tahazian, Garin Haidostian, Anita Andonian, Arine Baghdoyan, Lory Aintablian, Palig Kilaghbian and myself, Vahe Jebejian.


Lunch
Everyday the children woke up at 8 o’clock, did some physical exercises, and then had their breakfast. Afterwards, they had their devotion, menig bah, with their room leader. Worship was led by the leaders. The band (Lory Aintablian – piano and Jiro Ghazarian – guitar) added warmth and enthusiasm to the time of worship and singing. Right after this session, Liza Hekimian presented the message of the day in a very creative manner, using puppets and drama to explain her message. The children had teamwork, where they discussed the daily message and did some crafts according to the message of the day. Lunch was followed with a break of approximately one and a half hours that was followed by games, shower, and dinner.


Menig bah
The theme of this year’s Camp was Prayer, a topic which I consider and find very appropriate to teach young children as they come to know, understand, read and grow their interest in the Bible and Jesus Christ. Liza Hekimian presented many aspects of prayer and about how we should pray for the well-being of others and not just for ourselves. One subject that I liked the most and I think generated a lot of discussion among the children was about forgiveness. The children asked questions such as: “But baron how many times should I forgive?” “Should I forgive without even someone saying sorry or asking for forgiveness?”


Sunday at church
Every night we had a different program: a general knowledge quiz, where the children were just as out of control as they were having fun, an Armenian night, where the children sang on top of their voices! And so it goes on… The last day I think was the best night for the children. They enjoyed the company of the marching band of Anjar! The smile on the kids’ faces was just priceless! Children who had been quiet for different reasons during the Camp were now clapping and moving to the beat. They were so happy!


Worship
This Camp was not only a great time for the children but also a very inspiring time for us leaders. I think all of us during this Camp grew in the Lord much more. Thanks to Hagop Akbasharian, who organized creative prayer times every morning before the children woke up, we enjoyed the Lord’s presence among us. I even remember one leader say, “During different moments of the Camp, the little child in me woke up. It was as if my spirit was enjoying and rejoicing in the Lord as a little child!” Praise the Lord!


Finally, I want to express my deep gratitude to the people who made this year’s Camp an amazing experience for both the children and us!


Vahé Jébéjian

Children's Camp 2010

Click on the image below to read the Armenian report by Ms. Lori Aintablian.


Below you can find the English report by Mr. Jano Baghboudarian.

This year’s Children's Camp took place in Ainjar from July 19 to July 25 2010.
77 kids participated in the camp aged between 8 to 12.
The camp had 9 leaders : Liza Tunberian Hekimian, Aline Khederian, Lory Aintablian, Arine Baghdoyan, Vahe Jebejian, Hagop Karkazian, Hagop Harfoushian, Jano Baghboudarian and Silva Chilingirian as the general leader. There were also two helpers Sela Hekimian and Zaven Bardakjian.

The general topic of the camp was “ Yegek vazenk Tebi….” Presented by Hagop Akbasharian. The program had variety and each day had its own taste. Each day began with sports sessions. After the sports, the kids had their breakfast and after that they had their quiet times with their room leads. After the quiet time, kids sang worship songs and learned Psalm 15. After learning the verses of the Psalm, Hagop Akbasharian presented his topic “ Yegek vazenk tebi : Badganelioutioun-Ser-Kntag ( representing the Bible)- Coach ( representing God ) – Nbadag”. After the topic, the kids were divided into groups where they had to do some crafts related to the topic. After the crafts, the kids went to 6 different clubs : Sports-Crafts-Drawing-Dancing-Music-Reading. After having the lunch, the kids had some free time and after the free time, it was time for games. They played different types of games like ice-breaking games- water games- telematch-day out in the field- swimming in the pool and many other games.

In the evening, they had the prayer time followed by dinner. Before ending the program of the day, they had the chance to play some indoor and outdoor games like leader hunt-general knowledge contest-holy man etc… the night ended with puppet show. It was nice to be part of this year’s children camp because not only the children learned things about God, but also the leaders had the chance to refresh their faith.

Jano

Update: The leaders are already planning a Hamahavak gathering that will take place on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010.


















 
(Front, L to R): Vahé Jébéjian [leader, from Cyprus through Ashrafieh Church], Silva Chilingirian [head leader, from Marash Church], Jano Baghboudarian [leader, from Emmanuel Church], Hagop Harfoushian [leader, from Ashrafieh Church], Aline Khederian [leader, from Marash Church].
(Back, L to R): Hagop Akbasharian [speaker, UAECNE theology student as field worker], Liza Tunberian-Hekimian [leader, from Anjar School], Lory Aintablian [leader, from Anjar Church], Hagop Karkazian [leader, from USA through Anjar Church], Arine Baghdoyan [leader, from First Church], Zaven Bardakjian [assistant leader, from Marash Church]













Daily Vacation Bible School of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church

The DVBS of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church took place from 6 to 31 July, for 4 weeks (5 days a week).

The school usually started at 9am and ended at 1pm. Kids from the ages 4 to 12 participated from the neighborhood and they enjoyed the worship sessions, visitations, games, sing-songs, story telling, arts and crafts. Moreover, each week they had special events, where they went to Kchag, had a guest from USA (Robman) and from the Ourakh Daretartz group, visited La Giraffe and the newly-built playground of Bourj-Hammoud.


We are grateful to God for blessing us with volunteers who worked and served as one team under the leadership of Ms. Nara Kouzikian.





The leaders from left to right: Hagop Akbasharian, Nazani Svajian, Areni Svajian, Hera Kouzikian, Armig Kazezian, Hrag Avedanian, Nara Kouzikian, Sevag Svajian, Dzovag Demirjian, Taline Missirlian.
















































Kids Camp 2008, in Anjar

The kids Camp has always left a great impression, both on the children and the leaders (counselors). In order to leave the same impression, the leaders prepared for the Camp that was held in 11-16 August, 2008, in Anjar.

The happiness of the kids inspired us and in their happy faces we saw and enjoyed God's love and care.

87 children participated in this camp, and they enjoyed the love and care of 12 leaders. They enjoyed God's nature, a happy environment and spiritual education.
On the first day, we told the children the purpose of the Camp, which were, connecting with God, learning to love Jesus, who is our light and friend, and who pardons our sin and to choose to live with Jesus in order to have a happy life.


The main theme of our camp was "Knowing God's Temple". The guest speaker was Mrs. Silva Sarkissian. In 5 different sessions, she explained and taught the 1 Cor. 11 verse. She taught them about their use of their tongue, eyes, ears, feet and hands carefully. And how to keep their bodies clean, because Jesus lives in our hearts, and that our bodies are His temple.
The kids learnt to keep their bodies clean for Jesus and to be different in their language, behavior, wearing, the places they go, work, and to be a good example to others.

The kids had quiet time, and they learnt to spend time with God, through prayer and Bible reading, before the start of the day. During the worship time, they learnt new songs and they also learnt Psalm 15, to remember to live as good children of God.


After the morning break we had a special session, called "New", during which guests from Anjar presented different general knowledge subjects in 7 minutes.
a- Taking care of our bodies, externally and internally, by Mrs. Sossy Aiteblian.
b- How to help our minds to grow, by Mr. Sebouh Boyajian.
c- Why to keep the Armenian language and music alive, by Mrs. Nectar Palazian.
d- Why attend church on Sundays, by Paster Elias Jabbour.

The kids enjoyed the camp during the six days. They listened, played, drew, painted, crafted, learnt dancing, played games, visited places, and enjoyed each other.

It is our prayer that the children will have God's love and happiness in their lives and would distribute to others as well.


First, I thank God, and thank all those who prayed for this Camp, and thank the leaders: Anita, Silva, Armig, Aline, Lori, Palig, Ardemis, Ara, Jano, Jiro, Hagop, and Shant, who took care of the sick. It was also because of the leadership that we had a blessed Camp.

Mrs. Anita Andonia

Translated by Raffi Chilingirian


Front: Ara Torkomian
Middle from left: Jiro Ghazarian, Hagop Akbasharian, Aline Khederian
Back from left: Silva Chilingirian, Armig Kazezian, Shant Aynilian, Jano Baghboudarian, Anita Andonian, Palig Kilaghbian, Lori