I am a Lebanese-Armenian who has lived with dual identities and histories: the first one, Lebanese, with its local and regional conflicts, and the second one, Armenian, in its perseverance for a national identity and a solution to a just cause: the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The two identities have one thing in common: the struggle to build a life in the midst of uncertainties, a life that goes much further than the personal dimension and embraces different aspects of the community at large.
Born into a Christian family, I was brought up within the loving care of my parents and the Armenian Evangelical Church. The latter eventually shaped my career: to serve my own and the international community with the Word of God that provides hope for a better life.
My journey in the struggle for hope started after 1975, when the Civil War in Lebanon broke out. This was also the year when I lost my father.
Life turned out to be a mission for a young boy who did not enjoy the carefree attitude of many his age. My struggle is not confined to the Lebanese Civil War experience alone. It is an ongoing struggle because of the Arab Spring, the inter-ethnic and inter-denominational upheavals and wars throughout the Arab region, the threat posed by ISIS, and the continuous persecution of Christians and other minorities.
All these present challenges to my life in the Middle East. Often, it has seemed to me that peace is like a mirage in the desert.
Yet my war experiences in Lebanon, the present conflicts in the Middle East, the precarious presence of Christians in the Middle East, the rise of fundamentalism, and the “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” have led me to a unique hope. This hope has helped me to be active rather than passive, to enjoy life by doing something positive when all that surrounds me is negative, to love life even when I am in pain, and to hope for a better tomorrow when the present is full of devastating uncertainties.
I have been working with the Bible Societies in the Middle East region for more than 35 years and doing voluntary work in the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East for more than 40 years. My responsibilities in both, decades of involvement in ecumenical and inter-Church relations, and academic training have punctuated my personal, professional and spiritual growth with a tremendous “openness to the Other”, a truly appropriate de nition of ecumenism by His Holiness Aram I.
My mission journey has been very enriching. By encouraging communities to be engaged with the Bible, I have personally witnessed people’s lives change after engaging with God’s Word. However, this change process cannot be maintained unless one endeavours to be open to the Other and understand the Other.