Like many Armenians, I grew up with an awareness of God and had basic knowledge about Jesus. In elementary school, we memorized Bible verses and recited them to our teachers. Mornings often started with corporate prayer in the school gymnasium.
My favourite pastime was watching television. I regularly watched three or four hours of it a night. Consequently, many of my values, attitudes and beliefs, including those about God, were formed during those impressionable years from watching TV shows.
As a young adult, I wasn't really interested in God. At best, he existed on the periphery of my life, akin to a doctor you go to see a few times a year when you need medication for pain.
In those days, praying didn't bring much comfort. In fact, it often left me feeling more frustrated because it seemed like no one was listening.
John 9:31 says, "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him."
Despite my apathy toward God, I considered myself a Christian. I believed in the existence of a Creator, and on some level, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, but this knowledge was little more to me than a well-known historical fact. It didn't stir me to stop and consider the magnitude of that knowledge, nor did it have any impact on my beliefs and approach to life.
Thanks to the influence of Oprah Winfrey, I started reading books about New Age spirituality and self-improvement. I had bought into the lie that following your passions in life and attaining goals will bring you success, peace and fulfillment.
It wasn't long before these New Age philosophies left me feeling confused and weighed down. And a still, small voice inside me said that I was betraying the God of my childhood by reading these books, so I stopped.
In 2004, a friend invited me to a Bible study led by a man named Mario. There was something different about this person. The sincerity of his faith, his boldness, and the sense of urgency with which he proclaimed and taught God's Word were all new to me. I attended Mario's study for a few weeks, and enjoyed it, but eventually I got preoccupied with what I deemed at the time as more important things and stopped going.
A couple of months later, I experienced an unexpected and painful blow, which I responded to by blaming God and becoming depressed and anxious. Though I didn't realize it at the time, God used this event to sift my beliefs about Him, bringing to the surface my real view of Him behind the spiritual façade. As it turned out, I believed God was callous, unreliable, distant and definitely didn’t like me very much since He would allow something like this to happen.
Two years later, my father died of cancer. My dad’s passing was difficult, but it was also a turning point. It awakened in me a desire to make a decision - once and for all - about who God is. If there really was a God, I was going to find out everything there was to know about Him and search out His purpose for my life.
The day after my dad's death, I began my investigation. I interviewed everyone - the priest, family members, my friends, my parents' friends, respected members of the Armenian community. I asked them, “What do you believe happens to a person after they die? What do you believe is our purpose for being?”
Their responses baffled me. Each had a completely different answer, while some had no answer at all, and yet all were self-proclaimed Christians! What made matters worse was the fact that they were content in their ignorance while being apathetic over the lack of agreement on life's big questions. The only thing they did have in common was a blind faith in their nationality for salvation.
I began to wonder if the pursuit of God was a futile endeavor. "Maybe these people are right," I thought. "Maybe it is impossible to know God. Maybe God doesn't want to be known."
“Don’t go so deep,” some well-meaning people advised. “You won’t be able to climb out afterward.”
Before long, I gave up on my search for truth and declared myself an atheist. If faith was really this confusing, esoteric thing, I wanted no part of it. It was a very sad time in my life. I was not only mourning the death of my father, I was also mourning the death of my belief in the existence of God.
But God is faithful, and in Jeremiah 29:13, He makes the following promise: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
About a month later, I met a girl who had started leading the Bible study after Mario's untimely passing. Like Mario, there was something different about her too. She shared her testimony with me and invited me to go to the People’s Church where the Word was being preached in a clear and relevant way. I had nothing to lose, so I went.
I went every Sunday after that. I also started attending a weekly Bible study led by the pastor's wife. I started reading Christian books and listening to daily radio sermons.
This went on for several months. Then one day, I was reading Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ and had an epiphany. I sat up on my bed and thought, "I get it! That's how Jesus fits into the picture! I get it now!"
In the months and years that followed, I pressed on to know the Lord. I came to realize that my view of God, of Christ, of sin, suffering and the meaning of life had been wrong all along. Faith was not this mysterious, obscure thing at all. Faith was real. I realized that God has revealed Himself to us in His Word and provided everything we need to be reconciled to Him in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ.
In 2009, I was baptised.
Since my spiritual birth, God has been leading me through a sanctification process. He shatters my idols, one after another, and leads me into situations that tend to reveal the strongholds in my life. At times the process has been painful, but it has also led me into a deeper understanding of Him.
John 15:12 says, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
As I write this testimony, I've been walking with the LORD for five years and He continues to reveal His power and presence in my life.
I can no longer say that I love television. I now say as the psalmist did: “Oh, how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)
Hi, my name is Narine. My family and I attend the Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood Church. My father was the first person in our family to accept Jesus Christ as his personal saviour. For a few years, my mom strongly disagreed with my dad's decision to become a Christian. I even remember my brother and I staying home when my dad went to church because my mom would not let us go with him. Sometimes, my mom, brother, and I would go to an Armenian Orthodox church while my dad went to AEBC. However, over the years, God changed my mom's heart, and she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal saviour as well. As for me, I became a Christian at the young age of 5 as a result of my parent’s prayers and guidance.
My childhood was extremely blessed. I remember going to Good News Club every Friday which is a Bible study and Vacation Bible School in the summers. I really grew during these times because I was surrounded by brothers and sisters who taught me from the Bible and prayed for me. I also learned how to pray and grow in my relationship with God. However, the testing of my faith came when I entered high school. My first year of high school was one of the best years of my life. I was content with myself, was surrounded by godly friends at church, I was spiritually strong, and I was boldly telling my classmates about God. I started going to early morning prayer at 5 in the morning with my dad and other church members. I went to early morning prayer for about one year. Because of this prayer time, my prayer life got stronger and I started reading the Bible more.
During this time, I was strong in my identity and found my value in the Lord. I was content with who God had made me, and was maturing spiritually.
In grade 10, one of my classmates introduced me to a group of friends. At first, I spoke to them often about God, but they were against it. This discouraged me very much. However, they were very nice to me, and I really wanted to be a part of their circle of friends. As my friendship with them grew, my character slowly began to resemble theirs instead of the character of Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” This is exactly what happened. I started to become mean, rude, selfish, and I began to disobey my parents and make my own decisions. I stopped going to early morning prayer, and my prayer life went downhill. However, on my sixteenth birthday, at the beginning of grade 11, I was given a verse by my pastor which blessed me and gave me a vision and goal for my life. That verse is Colossians 1:10, which says, “...Walk in a manner of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Although it was given to me, I drew closer to my friends. This meant that more and more, I was living a sinful life with two personalities. With my parents, I was a good Christian girl, but with my friends, I was living in order to please them. Some of the things I did with my friends included drinking, coming home very late, and dishonouring my parents by always lying to them about where I was and what time I would come home. When I was close friends with these girls, I was never fully happy and content like I used to be.
Satan also tried to get a hold of my life by tempting me to want to kill myself. I attempted to crash my car into a wall, but the Holy Spirit stopped me before I went through with it. I stopped the car, put it in park, and just wept for half an hour.
During the summer after my senior year of high school, I began to realize that my friends were not right for me. God began to convict me and I realized that my life for the past three years was not glorifying God. I decided to end my friendship with these girls, and I asked God for forgiveness. I also confessed to my parents and told them everything, EVERY detail. It was a very hard thing for me to do, but I felt that it had to be done. After I confessed to my parents, I felt a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders. As I reflected, I began to ask myself, “Why did I meet these friends? How did I mess up this badly?” I began to become really curious and I wanted to know why God had allowed this to happen. I realize that He wanted me to become stronger, wiser and to depend more on Him. Although this experience was hard, I thank God that He gave me a second chance and kept me safe although I was living a sinful life. I want to end my testimony by telling you that God forgives you no matter what you have done. 1 John 1:7-9 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Also, Psalm 103:11-12 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” When God forgives our sins, He moves them so far away from us that we can live new lives free from the chains of sin that pull us away from Christ.
Today, I am getting baptized because of my commitment to Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and because He has commanded all Christians to be immersed in water in order to be identified with Him. My old self is dying and being buried with Christ and my new self is being resurrected out of the water just like Jesus was resurrected from the dead. And so, God is faithful to forgive us if we confess our sins, and I am so thankful for that.
Since June 2006, after the end of a serious relationship, I have been on the journey of learning about, trusting and loving Jesus and having Him dwell in my heart. It was at that time that a Christian friend invited me to attend a church service. Her gift of a Bible made me start to consider turning my monotheist faith into one centered around Jesus Christ as my personal saviour, comforter, protector, counselor, teacher and Lord.
However, it wasn’t until a crisis in my life that led me to fully surrender to God. I had just left a teaching position after believing that I was not capable of continuing. I put myself under a lot of pressure before and during it, so much so that I burned out. After a night of fits of despair in September of 2008 I fully accepted Jesus as God, my Saviour and Heavenly Father with the support of my Christian roommate at the time.
I've been cleansed of things in the past that I used to engage in or accept, things I now find unfavourable. Thus, God’s grace, love and mercy, in my experience, are sufficient to eliminate and cure addictions and illnesses. I trust that He is the best doctor and that with the help of the Holy Spirit I can become more healthy and, to quote the Apostle Paul, more loving, joyful, patient, gentle, good and faithful, in addition to having self-control and peace in my life. My relationship with God, leading a Christ-centered life, being more like Him and obeying his commandments have become my priorities.
Thus, my reason for being baptized. In the Bible, Jesus’ instructs the apostle to teach and to baptize in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I must die to myself, as Jesus died, be buried, be immersed in water, and be resurrected as He was.
I proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and God, the one who came to Earth to pay the price for my sins. He is my friend, my adoration, and the love of my life. I take my problems to Him as He is my counselor, and controller. I love Him and want to serve Him.