Descendants of Noah
Christian Stories from the Armenian Heart
Compiled and Edited by Barbara Ghazarian
Descendants of Noah is the Armenian version of the best-selling American series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Each of the 125 true stories highlights an aspect of the spiritual journey during which faith or heritage uplifts the soul.
Christians of any nationality exploring questions of faith, identity, and the role of the church in their lives can turn to these stories and be reminded that no matter what hardship they might be facing, they are not alone and everything will turn out all right.
- How to lead by example.
- How personal tragedies like the death of a loved one, divorce, or illness test one's faith and how these tests are part of the spiritual journey.
- How powerful and lasting an experience witnessing someone else's faith can be.
- How to bring practices of faith and make faith-based decisions in your daily life.
- How family, language, food, and the church are common denominators of identity.
- How individuals can leave the confines of their community and return again enriched.
by Ardashes Kassakhian
For nearly two millennia, the Armenian people have turned to the Bible for inspiration and spiritual guidance. Their resilience and dedication to God has survived countless invasions, continuous persecution, massacres, and genocide.
According to scripture, after the great flood, Noah's Ark came to rest atop Mt. Ararat, the highest point in historic Armenia. Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains and the Anatolian Peninsula (in what is at times referred to as the "cradle of civilization"), Armenians have long prided themselves as being descendants of Noah.
In 301 A.D., Armenians took an unprecedented leap of faith by adopting Christianity as their state religion, and Armenia became a testing ground for that faith. It was destined to be conquered by more powerful and hostile neighbors as well as invaders from the East.
Romans, Parthians, Byzantines, Mongols, Arabs, and Turks all attempted to impose their will upon the Armenian people. Yet the Armenians never renounced their beliefs or their faith. Instead, these invasions and massacres strengthened the Armenian resolve.
In 1915, with most of historic Armenia under the rule of the crumbling Ottoman Turkish Empire, Armenians, along with other Christian minorities, were persecuted. Turkic nationalism and the religious fanaticism that took hold of their overlords resulted in the first genocide of the 20th century. More than 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children were martyred. Genocide tested the faith of the Armenian people again. Despite a national dispersion into a global Diaspora, the Armenian nation survived.
What little remained of the historic Armenian lands were absorbed into the Soviet Empire soon after, and, for nearly seventy years, Armenian Christianity was attacked by the atheist ideals of the Communist regimes. But once again, the church and the people's faith survived.
In September 2001, as the eyes of the world focused on the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., Armenia quietly and fittingly celebrated its tenth anniversary of independence from Soviet rule and its 1700th anniversary as a Christian nation. Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Armenia to stand witness to this tiny nation's dedication to Christ through centuries of oppression. For the whole world and for all the children of God who were coping with the shock and loss of September 11, the Pope drew inspiration from the Armenian example of faith and survival.
Armenians know the pain of loss and injustice, yet through it all they have continued to find salvation in the Bible, known in Armenian as Asdvadzashoonch (the Breath of God). Highlighted by prayer and practice, the history of Armenian Christianity-and even Armenia-has been a story of endurance, sacrifice, salvation, and hope.
Each Armenian carries a story that embodies these beliefs and this history in some way. Descendants of Noah: Stories of Armenian Apostolic Faith and Heritage is a collection of true stories about, and recollections by, Armenian Americans connected to the Armenian Apostolic Church in the United States. Each story highlights a moment or an event or an aspect of the spiritual journey when Armenian faith or heritage helped lift the person above the malaise and chaos of a world that is at times overwhelming and always shifting.
In these trying times, Armenian Americans continue to pray and worship, knowing that the spiritual journey and the testing of one's faith is a continuous process. The power of their collective story bears witness not only to Armenians' tenacity to survive but also to the resiliency of their Christian beliefs. Let this book serve as a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for all Armenians, for us as Americans, and to the world as well.