Naira is a 43-year-old wife and mother in Armenia. She is a member of a local church and a Sunday School teacher.
Although now she has peace, Naira was plagued with fear and anxiety after a horrific natural disaster. When she was 11, a devastating earthquake hit while she was at school. She tried to escape with a friend, but the building collapsed before they could get out. They were trapped.
For hours, she and other classmates took shelter under a heavy table. A narrow gap in the rubble allowed them to breathe. One of her classmates was not able to move his legs because they were covered in debris. He was speaking with the girls, encouraging them, but after a while he went silent. The young man died before their eyes. “His last words were ‘Do not fear, God will help you,’” Naira remembers.
Hours later, Naira heard her father’s voice. She was rescued by emergency workers. She remembers her father’s hands were bandaged because he dug through the rubble to get to her.
After the earthquake, life was never the same. Many of her classmates were taken to western countries for medical treatment. “When I grew up, I could still feel the effects of the disaster. I lost some relatives and I could not forget the boy from my school who died before my eyes,” she says. “For years, I had this trauma.”
When she was a teenager, Naira met an older gentleman who lost his entire family in the earthquake. “He asked me why my face and eyes always showed sadness,” she says. She told him her story, how the pain and memories of that horrible event had stuck with her. “He then told me his story, too, about how he lost all his family members,” she remembers. “But he said someone had given him comfort, joy, and peace inside. I asked him ‘How is that possible?’”
The man began to tell her about Jesus who took away his sorrows and comforted him. Naira was skeptical, so the man encouraged her to come to church. Naira told him she visited the traditional Orthodox Church to light candles, but nothing ever happened. The man’s response struck her: “You need a living God, and that living God is called Jesus.”
For days she thought about those words, and eventually visited the man’s church. Soon after, she began to attend regularly and gave her life to Jesus.
Her eagerness to learn more about the Gospel grew. “I felt I lacked true, deep knowledge about what it meant to believe in Christ,” she says. “I realized I needed to know more about God in order to give Him the glory He deserves.”
Soon after, her church partnered with Bible League Armenia and began offering Project Philip Bible studies and training. “Through the training, I gained a lot of effective knowledge and skills, which I would be able to use for God’s glory,” she says. “I was even taught how to serve among children. Now, God is using me as a Sunday school teacher.”
While the Gospel didn’t erase Naira’s horrific memories, God transformed her pain. “The earthquake memories are still with me, but my response has changed,” she says. “My inner peace will not be shaken anymore. I am the most blessed person now that I’m able to serve our children for Christ. It is a privilege to tell them about our Lord and teach them about the Good News of salvation.”