Azerbaijan (MNN) — Three days of national mourning for victims of a seven-week war with Azerbaijan ended last night in Armenia. The conflict killed more than 5,000 people, including civilians. See our coverage here.
Videos of gruesome killings at the hands of Azerbaijan soldiers began circulating online earlier this month. Last week, officials identified two elderly Armenian Christians beheaded by Azerbaijan soldiers. More details here.
“Azerbaijan brought in fighters from Syria through Turkey, and these fighters are used to fighting in a war of Islam against anyone who does not follow their faith,” Eric Mock of Slavic Gospel Association explains.
“We have seen in the Middle East where people were beheaded for their faith. Most often it was followers of Jesus Christ, so it’s not a surprise that Armenians, who are predominantly Christian, would be persecuted by them.”
SGA helps believers respond
Nagorno-Karabakh, a long-disputed territory now claimed by Azerbaijan, is home to thousands of Armenian Christians. “Pray for the household of God as they are caught up in this,” Mock requests.
“People who enjoyed Christianity under Armenia are finding [a] predominantly Muslim culture and leadership under Azerbaijani control.”
Azerbaijan officially recognizes religious freedom. However, Armenian Christians face a different reality in Nagorno-Karabakh. Keep believers in your prayers as more reports surface of violence at the hands of Azerbaijan forces.
As you pray, “let us not get so caught up in fighting at the government level that we lose track of the most important war,” Mock recommends.
“As we hear about atrocities, let us be sure we fight the right fight. The real battlefield is the heart.”
With God’s priorities in mind, local believers demonstrate Christ’s love in word and deed as they help people in need. “This is why SGA is very focused on equipping the national church in those regions,” Mock says.
“By presentation of the Gospel, through the power of prayer, through the compassionate care of others, we seek to see lives eternally transformed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Header image depicts damaged houses that refugees return home to; many find nothing of use. (Photo, caption courtesy SGA)