Praying for Protection, Restraint and a Lasting Peace
by Andy Wilson
Most people in our community know that the country of Armenia is currently involved in an armed conflict, but many are unaware of the circumstances. Armenia is fighting with its bordering neighbor, Azerbaijan, over a region that is located within Azerbaijan where the large majority of the population is ethnic Armenian. Both countries have claimed the territory since 1991 when the Armenians living there declared their independence as the Republic of Artsakh, but disputes over the territory extend back to the First World War. Internationally, the contested territory is more widely recognized as Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan.
The fighting began on September 27 of this year and has already claimed the lives of hundreds of soldiers and civilians on both sides. Each nation claims it was indiscriminately attacked by the other. The stakes are especially high for Armenia because it is smaller and less militarized than Azerbaijan. Moreover, Turkey has weighed in heavily on the side of Azerbaijan. The involvement of Armenia’s former enemy stirs up memories of the genocide of the Turks against Armenians in 1915. Worse still, the conflict pits majority Muslim nations against a nation with Christian roots extending back two millennia. In short, this conflict is complex, and it has the potential to become extremely bloody
Tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians living in LA and especially Glendale/La Crescenta – our sisters and brothers in Christ – are understandably distraught about this unfolding crisis. How can we help? What can we do?
We can and must pray. Let’s pray:
That the leaders of both nations will agree to a cease-fire leading to a negotiated, long-term peace
That the conflict will not become a regional war
That civilians will be protected and not targeted
That France, Germany, Russia and the US will work through diplomatic channels to contain the conflict and encourage a settlement
That the Spirit will give comfort, wisdom and strength to the 7 million people of the Armenian diaspora, most especially our beloved friends and neighbors