Armenia is halfway around the world. Being on a plane or in an airport for over 24 hours is not the most fun, but I don't think Paul would cut me any slack considering how he had to travel! Mission trips are demanding, but it is a good kind of weariness.
Armenia is a small nation, both in landmass and population. Mt. Ararat, (in the photo below), dominates the landscape. It was where Noah's ark landed after the flood. You see it is still snowcapped in summer, such is its height. Armenia is the oldest officially declared "Christian" country in the world. The dominant church is the Apostolic Church--similar to Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. People are religious, yet most are not regenerate. There is a vital Baptist work there, and a close partnership with the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.
The people are hospitable. They fed us abundantly! The food was delicious and when invited to a church you often ate before the service and afterwards. In the churches we attended there was a radiance in the expression of worship--both deep in reverence and exultant in rejoicing. They would patiently sit to listen to two preachers during each service! I had the opportunity to address about 50 in a pastors' conference. Hearing those men sing and noting their commitment to the Lord was uplifting. It was such a rich fellowship in the Word!
We stayed at the Armenian Baptist Theological Seminary. Four of us led a class on Expository Preaching. I did the final session on extending an invitation and making an application of the sermon. The students were attentive and inquisitive. These young men will make great leaders in the churches of Armenia. Other members of our team were involved in the construction of a new church building and the ladies led a women's conference.
The family of God is so much wider than our limited perspective in our congregation. To be with brothers and sisters in Christ you have never met before, and might never see again on earth, yet to share in the sweetest communion, is a foretaste of heaven!
Dennis Thurman, Mission Strategist