Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Armenian Church

The Armenian Church And What Happened To Them

    One of the most tragic stories I heard while I was in Antioch was concerning the Armenian Church in the region and how they were protected by the Alevi people.  The Alevi are a sect of Islam, but yet they are not Islam in the traditional form, it's a religious group within Shia Islam combined with Sufi elements.  They are Islam in name only, they are a group of people that have no identity with Islam but are classified as Islam.  The Armenian Church and the Armenian people date back to the early church in the area.  There are many villages that have homes and street signs that date back to as early as 1891.  I actually saw one of these homes with the sign on the door. 
    However, when you travel the region and in the villages, you will not find any Armenian people living in the area.  Where did they go?  That question is quickly answered by the Alevi and it is the reason that when you speak to Alevi, they will tell you that they understand Christianity and Jesus.  This is why there is such an opening in this region for the gospel and for the harvest. 
    In the early 1900’s when Turkey was going through its revolution and becoming a new nation under Ataturk; things were going to turn from very good to tragic for the Armenian Church and the Armenian people.  With a new National Religion being established, the Christian Armenian Church needed to be dissolved or in this case, wiped clean.  So there was a degree or mandate issued that all property was to be taken and they were to be removed.  So the new army came into the area and systematically started taking the property and removing the Armenian people.  However removing was not asking them to leave, removing them was genocide.  Since for centuries, the Armenians and Alevi had lived in peace and friendship.  The Alevi felt that they needed to protect the Armenians from death, so they hid many in their homes.   Here is one of the stories that I was told:
   We hid them in our homes, when the soldiers would come, we would tell them that we were feeding the children.  Then when they would leave, we would open the places we were hiding them and feed them and protect them.  We did not want them to die, they were our friends and in many families, they were our family.
    Most of the Armenians were killed and their homes taken.  Many of the children were killed.  When the Armenians were gone, the villages were taken and many Muslims moved into their homes and took their property.  Today you will not find any Armenians here but because of them we, the Alevi understand Jesus.
    As you drive through the country side you will see many examples of the Armenian homes and villages, but no Armenians.  The few remaining Armenians that were left unharmed left the country in secret and went to other places.  This was a massacre in great proportions and before the time of Hitler, in a time where the world did not take notice of what was happening. 
    Advance to the current, because of what happened to the Armenian Church, their faith during all of this, their love for the Alevi, and the protection of them by the Alevi many in this area cannot accept or embrace the Koran or the teachings of Islam.  Only in the villages that have been taken will you find a presence of any kind, there are no mosques, there is no call to prayer, there are few covered women and throughout there are many conversations about Jesus.  However the Alevi, know nothing about how to believe in Jesus.  They will tell you that Jesus is God’s Son and that he did die on the cross but they cannot tell you why. 
    The story of the Armenian Church is tragic and sad.  A group of Believers eliminated because they stood by their faith.   However, through their sacrifices God has used it to lay the foundation for the Kingdom.  “All things work for good for the Kingdom of God.”  The story above is a compilation of the many times I was told the story.  The story of the Armenian Church is true and is believed by the Alevi.  I wanted to share this story with you.  I have left out many of the tragic details that have been passed down from generation to generation in an effort to never forget the Armenian Church and the Armenian people by the Alevi.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this tragic story.  Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.  I will leave you with another comment that was said to me:
    Where do you think that Hitler learned how to wipe out a people without the world knowing or paying attention to, he learned it by how the Armenian Church and people were removed.  He watched, took notes and then He knew.

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