Christina Nercessian and Co-leader from Armenia

As a group, Armenia Generations prays together, cares for each other, learns to trust the voice of the Holy Spirit, and takes steps of faith when He calls them outside of their comfort zones. A few months ago, they decided to do a form of evangelism called “treasure hunting” and although it was really scary, they got goosebumps by some of the encounters.

Christina Nercessian – Generations from Armenia Treasure Hunting Experience

Me and a friend of mine were leading the group and now it has already reached 11 people besides us! The members are from different churches and universities, and they have all become such good friends. It is so satisfying to see the love and unity they have, especially in Armenia where interaction between the different denominations is not encouraged. We meet every week and I prepare trainings for them on various topics, starting from their unvarying value in God’s eyes, healthy boundaries, to practical skills such as how to lead Bible Study groups and reach out to their non-Christian friends. Me and my co-leader also try to meet with them one-on-one once in a while.

As a group, we pray together, care for each other, learn to trust the voice of the Holy Spirit, and take steps of faith when he calls us outside of our comfort zones. A few months ago, we decided to do a form of evangelism called “treasure hunting” and although it was really scary, we got goosebumps by some of the encounters. I wrote about one of them on my blog:

 Waiting for Reuben

I had always been jealous of people with stories, the ones that give you goosebumps and make you go, “Oh my! God is actually real!” I had heard this particular one about a girl that was driving to the store one day to buy some juice, while listening to some worship music, when suddenly she felt like she had had enough of her lukewarm faith. “God,” she said, “I want to completely devote my life to you. Whatever you tell me to do, I will do. Wherever you tell me to go, I will go.”

When she reached the store and was about to get out of the car, she felt a voice in her head say, “I want you to go into that store and stand on your head.” She thought that was the weirdest thing ever and brushed it off as her imagination. But she heard the same sentence twice more and, remembering the promise she had just given God, she relented. She waited until there was no one in the store besides her and the cashier. When that happened, she took a deep breath. This was the moment.

“Um, hey there,” she said awkwardly. “Look what I can do!” She did her best to make the sudden cartwheel as little strange as possible. She didn’t even know before that she could stand on her head. When she got back down, she quickly grabbed her juice, ran towards the cashier, planning to get out of there as fast as possible. When she got to the cashier, however, she was shocked to find him crying! She asked him what was wrong.

“You will never believe it,” he began, “but two people came in here about two hours ago. They were telling me about Jesus and I laughed and said that I would never believe in him until someone came in here and stood on their head.” That young man accepted Jesus that day.

This story touched me to the core, especially since it was told to me by a man who knew the girl personally and so I knew that it was neither made-up nor exaggerated. I had heard so many such stories about people whose lives were simply an adventure with God, who had so much fun challenging people’s notions about God and the Christian faith, helping them to get one step closer to him. I longed to be brave like them, but most of the time, it felt as though I was a mouse hiding in a corner, crippled by the fear of what people would think. Whenever I was able to tell someone where I work without leaving out the words “Christian” and “ministry,” or whenever I was able to stand up and say something when a professor made fun of God, it was a rare but indescribably redeeming occasion for me. Not only because I was able to at least partly reveal the truth about someone I love so much, but because I finally felt like I was being true to myself and not hiding as if I had something to be ashamed of. What comforted me in the story of the girl who stood on her head was that she too was scared. But obeying God and risking ridicule and rejection for him felt worth it.

I knew that God was with me all the time, even in my comfortable little room, and that he loved me just the same, whether or not I did anything for him, but I knew that if I wanted to experience him in new and powerful ways, I would have to step outside of my comfort zone and trust him even when he asked me to do crazy things. And so, that is how me and three of my friends decided to give the “treasure hunting” a try.

We invited two of our other friends, whom we will call George and Sarah, to help us out, to explain to us what treasure hunting in this sense even was. We had gathered at the office of my workplace. George explained that basically we would divide into two groups and then we would pray together, asking God to give us any words or clues as to who he would like us to approach and offer to pray for. Then we each would listen and write down whatever words or images came to mind, even if they seemed weird or irrelevant. Most importantly, he said that the success of what we would do did not depend on the outcome or the reactions of the people we approached. Simply the fact that we had decided to listen to God’s voice and obey him already meant that we had succeeded. We split into groups; I ended up with George and Karen.

Before we even started praying, the name “Reuben” came to me. It simply rose up from the rest of my thoughts. I waited until we had finished praying and had actually asked God to speak to us, but as soon as we were done, the name “Reuben” came to me again. I wrote it down this time, among other words and ideas that came to me. Rectangular glasses. Black jacket. Blue jeans. In my mind, I saw a young man walking down the street near our office, right next to the vegetable store. The list went on. We each shared everything we had written down and we decided that, since the vegetable store was the closest, we would go there first and wait. A part of me felt so hopeful and intrigued, while another felt ridiculous. Me and Karen made jokes about Reuben making us wait for so long in this cold. Several people passed, none of them matching the image I had seen. “Maybe we should just move on,” I suggested. “We have other people to look for.”

“Okay,” George said, “But let’s just wait one more minute. If he doesn’t show up, we’ll go.”

We noticed a middle-aged man coming our way, wearing blue jeans and a black jacket. “Look, Christina, he seems to have the right clothes!” whispered George.

“Yeah, but the guy I saw was younger.” At the moment, any excuses were welcome.

“It’s okay, there’s no harm in trying,” said George, “He’s your guy, so I think you should be the one to talk to him.”

The man had almost reached us and would soon pass by. I felt the thumping of my heart in my chest and my throat.

“No no no no, I can’t!” I said in panic, looking at Karen for support. He seemed equally nervous as me. The man walked passed us. George gave up arguing with me and quickly ran after the man. With his beginner’s Armenian he stopped him and tried to explain what we were doing. He was struggling to remember some words and the man was looking at him quizzically. I could not stand letting him struggle like that alone. I quickly walked to his side and jumped in. “Hi, this is George, this is Karen, and I’m Christina. George was telling you that we are praying for people and were wondering if there’s something we can pray for you.” I was literally shaking.

The man looked at us with a funny look. I smelled alcohol in his breath. “Sure, pray for the Armenian army,” he said. I felt as though he was simply trying to get rid of us.

“Of course, we can do that,” Karen jumped in, having gained confidence, “but is there anything personal you would like us to pray for?”

“Just pray for the army,” he said with a smart smile.

“No problem,” I said, a bit disappointed. I bowed down my head to pray when it suddenly occurred that I hadn’t been very polite. “I’m sorry, I forgot to ask you, what is your name?”

“It’s Reuben.”

I clasped my hand to my mouth. Karen’s smile faded and his eyes widened in absolute shock. George smiled to himself.

“Oh my God! OH MY GOD!” I exclaimed, without even caring about Reuben thinking I’m a little cuckoo. Karen looked at me and began laughing incredulously.

It took a while until I finally gathered myself and looked at Reuben. He was looking at us with a most quizzical look.

“You won’t believe it,” I began, “But we actually prayed to God beforehand for him to show us signs for who he would like us to pray for and look! I’ve written it all down here.” I pulled out the piece of paper on which I had written his name, the clothes he would be wearing, the street he would be on and that we would see him near the vegetable store. I pointed it all out to him and saw his eyes also widening with shock. “Do you have my last name there, too?” he asked, not exactly joking. I was too overwhelmed with emotions to understand or even answer his question.

“Maybe we can pray now,” Karen hinted to me.

“Yes, yes, of course!” The three of us bowed down our heads again and I began to pray for the Armenian army and thanked God for the heart he had given Reuben for the young men on the borders. At intervals, bits of laughter would burst out as I prayed. When we finished, Reuben was still looking at us with a look that said, “What on earth just happened?”

“Oh my God,” I said again. “I don’t know what to say. God knows you, he really knows you,” I told Reuben, still laughing in wonder. “He knows everything about you.”

He hardly uttered any words, even as we said goodbye, dumbfounded as he was, but I detected a small smile forming below his rounded eyes as we walked away.

“This isn’t real,” Karen kept repeating as we walked towards the bus stop.

“I KNOW!” I kept exclaiming back.

George, who had seen more miracles like this, seemed less astonished (or maybe his way of expressing it was more reserved), but I could see how happy he was that we had had that experience. I suddenly remembered that the one detail that hadn’t matched my description of Reuben was that he wasn’t wearing any glasses.

“You should have asked him if he had reading glasses,” George said jokingly.

We laughed and walked on to find our next treasure.

I saw the look of wonder on the face of one of my group members who was with me. I asked him if this experience strengthened his faith and he was like, “You can’t imagine how much!” I can’t describe how much I love taking care of Christians and helping their roots grow deeper in God, even when I am an evangelist at heart.

Because of the current situation, we have been meeting over Zoom for our group meetings and even doing weekly Bible Studies with our non-Christian friends (and our group members have been the ones leading it!). Although the connection we have together has not wavered because of the distance, the students are already running out of patience and really want to meet in person. I think we are all tired of sitting in front of the computers all day and not seeing people “live.”

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