Field Report - ARMENIA

“Do any of the worthless idols of the nation bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No it is you, O Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.”. Jeremiah 14:22
Sunday 8th October, at the appointed time we met up at Heathrow, bound for Armenia. In the lead up to this trip we had met on Zoom to pray and had communicated by WhatsApp as a team. These proved invaluable tools to unite us, particularly during and following the invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan on 19th September, which followed a 9 month blockade of the Latchin Corridor, cutting Artsakh off from the rest of Armenia, starving them of supplies, food, medicines, with no movement of people or relief.

We instantly recognised one another and felt a united sense of purpose, “For such a time as this.” We met up with Kirsten from Norway, at Frankfurt airport, for our final leg of the journey.

Under Di’s leadership we spent the first three days interceding, and we believe things were moved in the heavenlies as we battled for this people and their situation. As we finished one particularly powerful time of intercession the heavens opened in the natural and rain poured down. We felt this was a sign from the Lord. Next morning it was confirmed for us in a word from Jeremiah 14:22, “Do any of the worthless idols of the nation bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No it is you, O Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.”

I believe these 3 days of prayer prepared the ground for the Lord’s ministry to follow. During our time in Yerevan, we met up with friends, (friendships developed over the 13 years that Flame has been going to Armenia), to listen to them, their perspectives and the mood of the people. This was a time to prepare and inform our minds and spirits before moving on. There was a real sense of shock, fear and brokenness, yet we saw without exception these men and women of God standing firm in their faith, unwavering and strong. Artur and Kanarik were eager to share the situation, painfully telling how it affected them as a family, their two sons serving in the army. We had the privilege of praying for them, giving encouraging words, and hugging them. We also gave Kanarik the children’s coats we had brought with us for the refugees and baby clothes for her pro-life ministry. Matt and Ella also helped us in our understanding, broken themselves. They shared about the continuous intimidation from the Azeris and guns pointed in from all sides with no effective means of defence, and hospitals full of traumatised young men. Craig and Joyce gave us their perspective too and encouraged us with the fruit they are seeing in the young people they minister to. We need to stand with these folk in prayer.

We started our mission at a Kurdish church near the foot of Mt. Aragats, the sessions were fitted round the farming community in the middle of the potato harvest. About 70 people listened intently, enjoyed the dramas, and involved themselves in prayer. The pastor told us the church had experienced God’s love. At least five ladies were healed of trauma, shock and depression, the pain had gone from a lady with a cyst on her kidney, and a knee was also healed. l believe we left them with hope and a renewed focus on Jesus. We had a prophetic word that the Lord would lift burdens off people’s backs, and l think that is what we were seeing.
Before moving on, we joined Kirsten and Di who had already split off from the main group to minister to Women Aglow. There were 16 very traumatised people from Artsakh, including our friend Pastor Armen at the meeting; many tears, the shock and trauma immense, but we saw a measure of healing in many that morning, it felt lighter when we left.

Having ministered at a small church at Yeshyard City, where many came forward for ministry, we travelled 3 hours on to Vanadzor, arriving at our hotel at 11pm having woken some geese in a farmyard, who woke the dogs, who woke the man! This slight detour caused us much laughter, but less amusing for the farmer! The next morning we went to Spitak, the pastor there was encouraging and loved our ministry, his people were engaged and hungry, time constraints meant a lot of the ministry was done from the front, the Lord was healing, this continued over and after lunch - an Armenian feast in an Armenian home, our tummies were full but burdens were being lifted.

Our next stop was Pastor Vardan’s church in Zoravan, we fellowshipped there on two consecutive days overnighting in Yerevan. Pastor Vartan is an amazing man with an apostolic ministry bringing together and uniting at least 100 pastors from different parts of the body, praying with them, encouraging them, and envisioning them. He put our programme together and oversaw it from start to finish, a very lovely and a very humble man. We are indebted to him for what he enabled us to do. It was a joy to teach and minister in his church again, it was being recorded and live streamed so although small in numbers, we were reaching a larger audience. We ministered to several traumatised people from Artsakh there, people were hungry for God. One man said, “This day is one of the most momentous days of my life”, having been delivered of rejection, fear and generational cursing! An ex-soldier who said, “In all the teaching, l see myself in each one”, he was in great anguish having been betrayed by his girlfriend and received a good measure of healing. We also prayed for one lady whose son had been terribly badly burnt in the gas station explosion fleeing Artsakh. God was at work!
Gyumri, the second city and old cultural centre a 2-hour journey north near the Turkish border, was our next stop. We had the afternoon being shown round the Apostolic cathedral by Father Hakob, he showed us many things and shared many stories. A large wooden crucifix weighing 50kgs rescued by 2 men who took 2 days to carry it to safety from a Catholic church when it came under attack from the Turks, is now placed in a side chapel where Catholics can worship, there is also another side chapel for orthodox believers to worship in, and he was proud to announce this was set up before ecumenism had even been invented! The Cathedral survived where many other churches did not, through conflicts and the earthquake of 1988 which killed 17,000 people in Gyumri alone. We had a very sweet moment praying with our brother for his son’s healing, an intimate moment in the middle of a busy cathedral, he rearranged his school run to be with us, it was an important appointment!

The first evening in the church in Gyumri we enjoyed the worship of its very enthusiastic pastor and his wife, the gathering started small, but grew, the following evening there were more. There was some spiritual opposition which broke the second evening. The enthusiasm grew, there was a real atmosphere of love and release. A group of about 15 young girls, and a few boys many with good English were hungry for ministry, there was a purity there, they were on fire for the Lord, serving and leading in the church already, they wanted empowering to do what the Lord is calling them to do, they wanted fire in their bellies! It was humbling and a privilege to catch a glimpse of the future of the Armenian church through them.

Next, we headed 5 hours north to Vaik, driving through the beautiful mountains which we only appreciated on the way home due to rain and poor visibility! A town nestled in the mountains, but a strategic church in the kingdom. Pastor Moses and his lovely wife Monika a worship leader extraordinaire, hosted us. It was a vibrant outward looking church with vision, already making inroads in the southern city of Siunik a vulnerable town on the border, many miles away. We spent two evenings and one morning ministering and fellowshipping there. Many other pastors were there and again refugees from Artsakh, about 40 people the first evening. Traumatised by the 4-day journey fleeing, one pastor and his wife bringing only family and a handful of earth from their homeland. Men who had fought in recent conflicts, the grief and loss written on their faces. They loved the teaching and even laughed at the dramas, absorbing everything, and began to receive their healing. 
The second evening the response to the teaching on Forgiveness was unprecedented, within seconds of a finishing prayer people were queuing to forgive and nail their discs to the cross. Pain was being released as they lay their stones at the foot of the cross. We prayed with a large number afterwards, the Lord doing a deep work in many. The final morning there, 21 people joined us from Jemuk, 40 kms away, a town near the border, living with experience of and continued fear of bombardment and drone attacks from the Azeris. Again, the hunger was tangible, and the Holy Spirit moved powerfully. We had testimonies of forgiveness, release from trauma, freedom from fear, one lady said, “Yesterday l felt a revival with the Holy Spirit, l could receive for myself and for others healing and teach this knowledge. This joy is now overflowing from me. Thank you.” A young woman whom we prayed for was freed from the fear of death, which she had not told us about. We prayed for her fiancé a soldier in Russia, losing his faith due to the trauma he had experienced, we laid our hands on his picture on her phone, and that night he slept for the first time in years. We prayed for an ex-soldier left for dead by the doctors, but a nurse stayed with him and he recovered. He was helped on his journey, beginning with a willingness to forgive, and was given Psalm 139 to show him how God had made him and was in the business of putting him back together again. Pastor Moses asked if we could return every year!

Back to Yerevan, and to our final church in a town nearby. So humbling and probably the hardest meeting of all. It was Pastor Armen’s congregation, about 40 reconvened for the first time after being displaced 3 weeks earlier. The shock, trauma and the grief and sadness were visible. The Lord’s love was also tangible, there were hugs and thanks. But it was important to leave with the reality of the suffering fresh in our minds, this spurs us on to pray.

Not surprisingly, the enemy did not like what we were about, and suffice to say we did have opposition. Our plans changed from the original, Pastor Vardan was sick when we arrived and 4 out of the remaining Flame team of 8 were unwell for significant periods of time. I mention it, just to say to those who were smitten, thank you for travelling even when you were feeling grim, you were stoic, remaining united as part of the team even if unable to minister. You suffered, it was hard, and that was recognised by us all. ln the middle of these challenges, l felt the Lord say, he was going to do what he was going to do. I believe he did just that. It was a lesson in perseverance, suffering with one another and remaining in unity. He honoured our obedience in ‘going’, and accomplished what he wanted in spite of us, not because of us. We interceded, we taught, we mimed, we prayed, we hugged. We hugged with the Lord’s hugs, (one precious thing I learnt was that he hugs each person with a different kind of hug, each special to them, what an honour to physically give these hugs to those that needed them). The Holy Spirit did the transforming work. We left encouraged, and with embryonic thoughts for further development of Flame’s ministry there. Alleluia!

Genesis 28:15, “What’s more, l am with you, l will protect you wherever you go. One day l will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until l have finished giving you everything l have promised you.”

PS. Jesus worked with fishermen, friends, and financiers. He can also work with pilots, pioneers and pensioners. Be encouraged! 
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