As 700 people from numerous church traditions gathered in Yerevan to pray for Armenia one pastor remarked, “I think God has a great sense of humour, sending us a team of 20 Australians from the ends of the earth to remind us ⎼ the first Christian nation ⎼ that we need to come together to pray.” There was a palpable hunger amongst God’s people at the Yerevan Prayer Assembly as they prayed and worshipped for three hours through the Friday evening of 18th September. This was the first of five prayer events launched by Ben F. Gray and the Australian Prayer Network under the banner of the Armenian Prayer Initiative (API). Throughout the evening pastor after pastor brought exhortations and led the congregation to pray for the church, their city and their nation. They all shared the same conviction: ‘That when the Church prays with one voice, things change!’
The vision of the Armenian Prayer Initiative is to raise up united prayer across the breadth of the church in Armenia to see the kingdom of God breakthrough, bringing transformation to all spheres of Armenian society. One of the most compelling parts of the trip was at the Yerevan Prayer Assembly when the pastors present were invited to come to the front to be prayed for by the united congregation. You could sense the excitement as God’s people witnessed a glimpse of the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, “Father… that all of them may be one… brought to complete unity… then the world will know that you sent me…” That same fervour was stirred as the church prayed for its civic leaders and the President of Armenia. The challenges facing the government of this oppressed nation are huge with the population in free-fall as people give up on this land and leave to seek a better life for their families.
Only God can turn this nation around. He prevented them from being wiped out in the genocide 100 years ago. 1.5 million were slaughtered for the sole crime of bearing the name of Christ. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Matthew 5:10 Surely God will have the final word on Armenia’s destiny! As well as hosting prayer assemblies in Yerevan and the northern city of Vanadzor, the API team staged one-day seminars on each of the following days. Brian Pickering and Ben Gray taught on ‘How to pray for church, city and nation.’ One lady in Vanadzor asked them, “Why did it take you so long to come?” She continued, “You are the answer to my prayers! We get people coming in to teach on all kinds of topics but no-one is teaching on prayer.”
Every person attending the Armenian Prayer Initiative events received a free copy of Dr. Stuart Robinson’s book ‘The Prayer of Obedience’. The author testifies that prayer was key in growing a Melbourne church plant into the largest Baptist church in Australia. The publisher CHIBooks funded the translation and printing of 3,000 copies to sow into the Armenian church. One pastor was so excited after reading this book that he wants to help translate it into Farsi to bless the church in Iran. Several leaders told us, “It just makes you want to pray!”
Nearly one hundred Christian leaders from across Armenia attended the first Armenian National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday 24th September. Several pastors and leaders led prayers for different spheres of Armenian society, including the church, business, medicine and education. Brian Pickering, the National Coordinator of the Australian Prayer Network brought the keynote address encouraging the church to ‘wake up’, ‘rise up’ and ‘go forth.’ He shared from what God had been stirring in the hearts of the intercessory prayer team who had travelled to Armenia support the Armenian Prayer Initiative. Some pastors were in tears as they witnessed leaders uniting together in prayer for their nation. It truly represented a new hope for Armenia and strengthened resolve to stand in the face of challenging circumstances.
Thanks to our team & supporters Initiatives of this kind are realised through careful obedience to God and through passionate prayer. Ben and Jonathan want to give special honour to those who travelled to Armenia to undergird this initiative in fervent united prayer. They took up the Romans 4:17 challenge to call on the one “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” Our Father sees what is done in secret and rewards accordingly. Thank you! We are so grateful to God for our divine appointment with Andrey Derkach of YWAM Armenia. Our friendship and partnership to see God bless Armenia has only just begun. To him who is able to do immeasurably more! Thanks also to those who faithfully supported the Armenian Prayer Initiative around Australia through their prayers and financial support.
What’s next? In 2016 we are committed to move forward with the Armenian Prayer Initiative by:
• Taking 30 prayer leaders/coordinators on a two-day retreat in March to listen to the heartbeat of prayer in the Armenian church and offer further training;
• Staging a conference in September on prayer, transformation and mission with 6 international speakers pencilled in to speak. Prior to the main conference we plan to hold three mini-regional conferences and also host another Prayer Assembly in Yerevan;
• Hosting another National Prayer Breakfast;
• Continuing to produce regular prayer bulletins and by developing the www.PrayArmenia.net website as a hub for raising up prayer for Armenia;
• Translating and distributing another resource book.
Visit the homepage of www.PrayArmenia.net to view slideshows of the API events, to stay informed and to donate to the ongoing work.
Source: by Jonathan Gould from CityHarvest International