Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh flock to churches for hope

By November 10, 2023

Armenia (MNN) — The ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, rooted in decades of historical and territorial disputes, has once again captured international attention as violence flares in the South Caucasus region.

Roughly 150,000 Armenians fled the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in late September after Azerbaijan attacked. Azerbaijan now demands that Armenia hand over eight more villages in the region. Armenia has, so far, refused.

Eric Mock with Slavic Gospel Association explains, “The area of Nagorno Karabakh — or as Armenian people would call it, Artsakh — is really a sacred area. In fact, the people that live there go back many, many, many generations. It is been at a flashpoint for especially the last year because there has been this blockade that has meant no food [and] no resources coming to…that region of about 150,000 people.”

(Photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association)

This conflict, which has its origins in the early 20th century and was reignited in the late 1980s, centers on the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The two nations, Armenia and Azerbaijan, have engaged in multiple military clashes and full-scale wars, resulting in significant loss of life and instability in the region.

Mock says SGA has had a relationship with Armenian churches since the 1990s. “We have been supporting their missionary pastors. We’ve been helping them with their Orphans Reborn program and children’s Christmas program. Of course, Immanuel’s Child is coming up, and training now as well. So all aspects of SGA’s ministry have actually been engaged in the country of Armenia since the fall of the Soviet Union.”

SGA has supported three Armenian churches in Nagorno-Karabakh specifically with food aid and spiritual encouragement. Now, Mock says, “Those churches fled. They lost everything — their building, everything, their livelihood — but they re-gathered outside of Yerevan, Armenia, so I was able to spend time with them.

“The three churches that fled have already reformed and have grown by 40% [from] other refugees coming and trying to ask for those messages of hope. So what God has done, much like we saw in the crisis in Ukraine, is He has provided a circumstance by which these churches are now flourishing even though they’ve lost everything.”

A refugee family in Armenia. (Photo courtesy of SGA)

Churches already established in Yerevan are also housing refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Story after story, we hear refugees that have come and have heard the Gospel,” says Mock. “Several of them would have been antagonistic to the Christian appeal, the Gospel.

“The thought of even walking through a church, their context was the Armenian Apostolic Church. So they had been taught the Protestant Church was against the faith, against the good of the country, against all the people. But they found that those were the churches that were actually trying to take care of them. Those are the churches from which they heard the message of grace and people are coming to faith!”

Please pray for Armenians to know they are not forgotten by the Church! Ask the Lord to add fuel to the Church in Armenia and for the Gospel to change hearts across the region.

Learn more about SGA’s ministry here!








Header photo of Yerevan, Armenia. (Photo courtesy of Levon Vardanyan/Unsplash)

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