Sports Perf. - Armenia

  • Laughter and Joy Change Lives

    Section: Sports Perf.

    Sports Performance - Armenia

    “Laughter and joking can demolish language and cultural barriers and soon we all felt like a close knit group. I loved the lunchtime today with the New Life Armenia staff. It was sweet to hear their stories and share ours.” These were the words of Ben F., Athletic Training major at Liberty University who recently travelled to Armenia with AIA Sports Performance.  Ben grew up as a missionary kid, but his life was changed by these Armenians who are daily sacrificing their desires to see their country reached for Jesus Christ. Laughter and joy were a consistent part of the week in the capital city of Yerevan, Armenia. The team of five athletic trainers and AT students sought to bond with one another and their hosts while sharing their faith at the National Physical Institute (Kinesiology University).

    The main focus of the week was a three-day conference at the Institute in the afternoons followed by three evenings of hands on labs at a local sports club. The exchange of knowledge on heat illness, taping and wrapping, and sports injuries was just part of the purpose. Doing so with laughter and joy, despite jet lag and fatigue is essential to sharing one’s faith. Ben went on to describe his experience with, “They shared about their university experience and I got to share mine. Even though we are worlds apart we still found many similarities and created a friendship.” The key relationships Ben built early in the week led to spiritual conversations later in the week.

    Tigran and Lusine, our Armenian AIA staff, are a couple who have fun doing ministry. The team laughed at Tigran’s humor and antics, and one member seemed to consider it his purpose to encourage Tigran with his own funny blunders and silly antics. Julian M., another Liberty Athletic Training major, had his life changed by the process of raising financial support for the mission. "The support raising process absolutely blew me away. I had a hard time of raising support at first, and then God provided. I am not the same anymore." The team was professional in their presentations but had a lot of laughter and joy fill their meals, van rides and everywhere in between.

    The laughter and joy were interrupted one day during the tour as the team visited the Armenian Genocide Museum, dedicated to the victims of the 1915 tragedy. Megan S., a Graduate Athletic Training Student at the University of Arkansas commented on finding God in one’s journey through trials we encounter. The team’s Bible studies touched on this subject but perhaps the visit to the Genocide Museum brought home the reality of the harshness of life that others lead and the blessings we have received. The faculty at the Physical Institute gifted the team with single purple flower lapel pins, their national symbol of the one hundredth anniversary of the genocide. The Forget-Me-Not flower is the perfect symbol to accent both the tragedy, and the hope of those who survived.

    The team’s week was not only full of laughter and joy but reflection as well. Tigran G., AIA’s National Director in Armenia reflected on the team’s work, “You have been a catalyst for us in ministry to open doors at the Institute. The meeting today with the Dean and Department Chairs was representative of that. And now I will be meeting with the Rector next week. I consider this a great opening after praying for two years" said Tigran. In addition to the teaching at the Institute, the team was able to reconnect with Aranyik who came to know Jesus three years ago during a previous AIA tour. Rachel S., an Assistant Athletic Trainer at the University of South Carolina said, “I am praying that the Armenian Christians' boldness and zealousness rubs off on me and that I will consider what doors AT can open for the gospel." She continued to comment of her desire to spend, “more time being thankful for my past experiences and my ever expanding opportunities.” 

    Rachel shared that her goal for the trip was to learn how to use her career for God’s glory, to discover how to truly live out Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men”.  Rachel added, “Maybe the first step is simply to thank Him for the knowledge needed and the opportunity given to do this job – remembering it is nothing that I’ve done for myself but only because He has seen fit to place me in this time, in this place, in this career and in this position.”

  • Home Safe!

    Section: Sports Perf.

    Sports Performance - Armenia

    The Aremian Sports Performance team made it home safe Saturday after a long day of travel.

    Some of us had a longer day than we planned due to some bad weather that hit the DC airport just as we were all separately boarding our last flights.

    Praise God that no one had to spend the night in the airport. stay tuned for a recap of our tour tomorrow!

  • Hajoe! (Goodbye!)

    Section: Sports Perf.

    Sports Performance - Armenia

    We began our last day with our team Bible Study at the hotel. We’ve been studying the AIA Principles, using a version of the discussion questions related to professionals and students in sports medicine and strength & conditioning. Today’s topic, “Hurtin for Certain” deals with the question, “How do I deal with pain?” The study is based on the story of Joseph in Genesis and 1st Peter 1:6-7. Our team related well to this subject, having been through personal trials and seen athletes experience them as well.  Our prayer is that we can learn how to deal with our own pain in life as well as how to help others deal with their pain. The conclusion reached by our team was that it is necessary to stay connected to God, live life in community, and understand that trials are an opportunity for personal growth and for us to bring glory to God.

    We met with the New Life Armenia National Director, Vardan B., this afternoon to review our time in Armenia and receive his thanks for coming. Vardan shared with each person how our team has opened a door they have been praying for at the Physical Institute. Each team member shared how the tour had impacted them. They spoke of growing professionally, being challenged spiritually and each team member expressed their love for the people and the beauty of the country.

    We finished the day by touring some ancient sites just outside Yerevan. Geghard Monastery was incredible! It’s a medieval monastery that was partially cut out of a mountain hidden deep in a gorge. The church was established in the fourth century by carving it out from the top down in order to hide it from the local authorities. You can walk through a passage way into the fourth century sanctuary which has incredible acoustics. Subsequent sanctuaries were added in the seventh, eighth and thirteenth centuries making this an awesome place to visit and consider the growth of Christianity in this country.

    [Below: Paul deep in the fourth century Christian church.]

    After Geghard, we visited Garni, a reconstructed first century pagan temple. The original temple was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679 but reconstructed out of its ruins in 1930. While there we met Christian, a free-lance professional photographer from Wales who was backpacking while working in Armenia. Tigran was able to share his faith with him through our translator (Nelly). While Christian did not immediately respond to the message, he was very cordial and thanked Tigran for sharing. Please join us in prayer for Christian.  These two ancient sites positioned so close to one another offer a distinct picture of history, the differences between paganism and Christianity, and the sacrifices made by those believers who have lived before us.

    [Below: Garni Temple]

    Now, we’re sitting at the gate in the airport at 3:35 am waiting to board our flight from Yerevan to Vienna, Austria. We have just said, “Hajoe” (Goodbye) to Tigran with a prayer and a lot of hugs. We’ve said goodbye a lot today, first the New Life Armenia staff, then Lusine (Tigran’s wife) and Nelly. In several hours we’ll be saying, “goodbye” to each other.  It seems like it should be sad yet because of our relationship with Christ we know that it will not be the last time we see each other.

    Hajoe! Astvats Orhni! (Goodbye and God Bless!)

    - Paul N.

    P.S. Check back later for a recap of our tour!

The opinions expressed in these posts are that of the author only, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Athletes in Action, Cru or any employee thereof.  Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of the writer only.