PARAMUS, New Jersey—Benefiting from Reverend Haroutune Selimian’ s visit to Paramus, New Jersey, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) organized an event on October 26, 2016 at the Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus to hear updates on Aleppo.
Reverend Selimian is the President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria and Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Bethel Church in Aleppo. During the five-year war, which continues to be in escalation mode, Reverend Selimian has been with his flock suffering together the hardship and supporting them morally and spiritually every day.
Reverend Berj Gulleyan, Pastor of the Armenian Presbyterian Church, opened the evening with a prayer.
In his opening remarks, Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA, noted that the Western mainstream media recently hyped the reporting of the agony of the 250,000 Syrians living in Aleppo’s East side under the control of extremists. The media however ignored the five-year plight of the 1,250,000 people under government control who suffer from the daily barrages of rockets and mortars with no running water and no power.
Khanjian noted “now that we know ‘Where is Aleppo’ and ‘What is Aleppo’ it may be time to ask the question ‘How is Aleppo, all of Aleppo?’” He mentioned the continuous financial help that the AMAA has been extending to the Armenian community in Aleppo since the economic machine stopped because of the conflict.
He added that for those Syrian Armenians who are willing and unable, the AMAA has introduced the ‘Syria Lifeline’ program which manages their move and covers all transportation costs to the Homeland. Khanjian commended Reverend Selimian’s courage and sacrifice daily risking his life shepherding the flock in the divided war torn city.
A video followed the presentation. The first part depicted ‘before and after’ pictures of institutions, structures, buildings, Armenian churches and schools in Aleppo, Kessab and Der Zor which show the horrible destruction. This part of the video also showed pictures of many Armenian victims of the war.
The second part was an illustration of the fervent life of the faithful at Sunday Church services, Sunday schools, children’s choir, youth groups and ladies’ guild activities as well as Kindergarten, Elementary and Secondary students in classrooms and at leisure. The video concluded with pictures of social services; food and water distribution, household essentials, cooking gas, clothing and shoes, monetary subsidies to families in need, Christmas and Easter packages, pajamas and toys to children and the Bethel Polytechnic, family visitations by the pastor, visitation to the Armenian old aged home, the orphanage, etc.
Reverend Selimian then spoke and reminded the guests that this is not the first time that the Armenian nation has endured a catastrophe like this. He said these experiences make people stronger in their faith and get closer to each other.
He stated that without the help of the AMAA, none of the good shown in the video would happen. Because of the AMAA aid, institutional structural damage is immediately repaired, teachers are paid their full salary and bonuses to cover currency devaluation and the children’s’ tuition is paid.
Reverend Selimian elaborated on all the programs that were shown in the video. He stated that Christians believe that all people are created with the image of God. With this conviction some help is also distributed to local neighbors who suffer under the circumstances. He said ministers extend a shoulder for people to cry on, visit families of victims and perform funeral after funeral. Reverend Selimian expressed confidence that someday we shall see the Armenian churches rebuilt with the return of peace as there is always the hope of sunrise after darkness.
Khanjian ended the evening stressing that the vibrant and peaceful oasis amidst the desert of death and destruction in Aleppo is only achieved through the grace of God. He appealed to the audience to continue their steadfast support of the Armenian community in Aleppo. He said, “It is our spiritual, national and humanitarian duty to do so.”
Following Reverend Gulleyan’s closing prayer a reception followed.
The AMAA is thankful to all those who responded to Khanjian’s call for support; $12,000 was raised for needy Syrian Armenian families. A special thank you to George Khorozian, who donated $10,000 which was raised in honor of his 70th birthday.