Population: 2.9 million (2016)
Official language: Armenian
Major religion: Christianity
Armenians are predominantly Orthodox Christians, but many are nominal Christians with little knowledge of Scripture or personal relationship with Christ. The evangelical community is often persecuted and considered untrustworthy. It takes courage for a young Christian to openly live out and share their faith with their peers in the university. It is not permitted to work openly with students within universities.
Students in Armenia
- more than 123,000 students study in 59 universities in Armenia
- 7,000 international students study in Yerevan
- 6 full-time staff workers, and 2 part-time interns work in IFES Armenia with 20 Armenian and International student leaders in Yerevan and in another city (name not mentioned out of security issues), where the ministry was pioneered in 2015
- only 3 known Christian student group, 5 Bible study groups for seekers
- 1 prayer group of 11 students in one of the main universities
Christian student groups are not officially allowed to enter universities with the gospel message because any Christian group outside the state church is considered to be a cult. However, that did not prevent the movement from implementing their vision through winter and summer evangelistic camps, leadership conferences and training events for Christian and non-Christian students. They have weekly Bible study groups, language clubs and other evangelistic activities and projects. By the grace of God, they are making an impact on the students’ lives and on the society.
Through the years the student movement has had many ups and downs, but by God’s help and guidance it has become stronger and more productive. It now mainly operates in Yerevan city, sharing the gospel with more than 5000 students, raising up more than 70 leaders and making more than 50 disciples in the past few years.
View from the inside
Through deep friendships and prayers, Christian students are able to lead their friends to Jesus and win their trust. One man who is a friend of our intern and who comes to our Bible Study group shares: "I hated everything connected to God, because in my family there were lots of problems, and I was really offended at God". Then he started to read the Bible: "While reading I felt new hope, my hatred went away, and I felt protection from God".
He had become a heavy smoker during his army time, but when he started attending the Bible studies, he stopped smoking immediately. After some time, he befriended a girl who actively comes to the Bible study groups, and they are now both excited about reading the Bible. He says: "I am thankful to IFES Armenia - I received a lot here, not only my girlfriend, but I have discovered God afresh. My relationship with God has changed. I now believe in eternal life." His girlfriend now helps our student leader to run that Bible study group, she has lots of creative and courageous ideas and is not afraid to implement them.
- for Christian students to be bolder and more proactive in sharing the Gospel through the Bible study groups and evangelistic programs, through discipleship meetings and public proclamation of the Gospel.
- for Armenian students to be more open to receive Jesus in their hearts, as their Lord and Savior and join a church.
- for the ministry to expand to other cities and campuses.
- for the unity of evangelical churches and their active support for the student ministry.