By Joel Veldkamp, Op-ed Contributor
There is a country in the Middle East whose people have been in a covenant relationship with the God of the Bible for millennia. They have faced many persecutions in their long history, but none so terrible as in the 20th century, when a powerful country tried to wipe out all of them – the entire race – during a world war. Despite this horror, they clung to survival, setting up their own independent state on a tiny strip of land, surrounded by much larger, hostile countries that have vowed to destroy them.
What country am I talking about?
If it weren’t for the headline of this article, it would be entirely natural for an American Christian to assume I was talking about Israel. The Jewish state is the subject of great passion and devotion among American Christians, evangelicals in particular. And even beyond its evangelical supporters, Israel garners an enormous amount of attention. Every border clash with its Arab enemies, every turn in the diplomatic game, is deemed worthy of intense media coverage.
But the country I described is actually Armenia. Armenia was the first country in the world to convert to Christianity and is the home of some of the oldest Christian sites and communities in the world. The Armenians were nearly destroyed in a genocide carried out by the Turkish state from 1915-1923. Over a million were killed, by most estimates, and most of the survivors scattered across the world. The Republic of Armenia finally gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. And since September 27, it has been under attack by its larger neighbor Azerbaijan, supported by its even larger ally, Turkey. Turkey is now bringing in thousands of jihadists from Syria to fight against the Christian Armenians.
Had you even heard about that?
If not, don’t feel bad – you’re far from alone. Christian media in the U.S. has been largely silent on the subject.