Written by Eliza Minasyan, Executive Director
The Jinishian Memorial Program (JMP) reaches more than 100,000 people each year in seven countries—Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Artsakh, and Georgia. Leadership and staff are 100 percent local and unite across Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical traditions to share God’s love with the most vulnerable. JMP brings relief in crisis and works to upend the roots of poverty and build up families, businesses, health, and faith.
Armenian peoples have lived throughout Asia Minor for thousands of years, with a distinctly Christian faith since 300 C.E. Our history is characterized by periods of conflict and peace, occupation and independence, persecution, and resilient recovery. In the late 19th century and during World War I, millions were massacred in our homeland and displaced throughout the Middle East and worldwide.
Vartan Jinishian was born in 1870 in Marash, Turkey, the oldest son of the Reverend Haroutune Jinishian and Mrs. Catherine Jinishian. They emigrated to the United States, and he amassed a great fortune. But he saw the need of the Armenian people in Beirut and Aleppo and realized he could do something about it. As his final legacy, Vartan Jinishian established an endowment fund in honor of his parents to save the lives of generations to come.
Jinishian’s plan displayed a spirit of unity and reconciliation uncommon for his time. The Jinishian Memorial Program began meeting the needs of the post-genocide Armenian population throughout the Middle East in the 1960s by forging unique ecumenical, local partnerships of completely indigenous teams. Beyond the scope of the previous post-war relief efforts, JMP sought long-term solutions for restoring dignity to Armenian communities.
In Jerusalem and Istanbul today, JMP is a vital thread in the fabric of support to these Christian minorities and remains committed to uplifting Armenians so they may continue to live in their homeland in peace. Programs in Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia help those in greatest need without discrimination. And in every city where we serve, JMP is advised by an ecumenical Armenian board.
The last will and testament of Vartan Jinishian named the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as the recipient of the bulk of his estate to carry out this work. This partnership remains possible because of a shared ecumenical vision and mission, which is evidenced by our diverse donors today. They include descendants of genocide survivors, diverse American Christians, and Presbyterian and ethnic Armenian churches alike. The PCUSA is a member communion and one of the founding organizations of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).
After the genocide, the fledgling republic of Armenia fell under communist rule for most of the 20th century, followed by harsh and hungry years of early independence in the 1990s. Young Armenians today represent the first generation to grow up after Soviet rule. Against many odds, they are reclaiming their Christian heritage.
Since independence in Armenia, JMP has been a leading nonprofit bringing economic, social, and faith-based revitalization. Our core mission includes building up next-generation leaders who are guided by
compassion, ingenuity, and hope in order to reverse generational poverty. Projects are designed to promote long-term, sustainable change so people can earn a decent living, grow healthy families, and help their communities thrive. In response to the war in the fall of 2020, Jinishian swiftly expanded its programs to include medication and rehabilitation for wounded soldiers and humanitarian relief for displaced families.
My colleagues in Syria remember their grandparents’ faith and courage when they arrived from death marches as orphans. They also remember days of prosperity, peace, and diversity before the violence that erupted in 2011. International JMP support and solidarity brings them hope that they are not abandoned as they continue to care for a vulnerable Christian minority. We meet basic survival needs and run health programs serving all ages while providing a community of encouragement and long-term empowerment.
As this nation suffers a deep political, economic, and humanitarian crisis, JMP is unwavering in our support. Families are more vulnerable to illness, homelessness, broken relationships, and broken spirits. We give them tools to find jobs, improve their relationships, and stay together. Programs prevent school dropouts and child labor by supporting vocational education. As a Christian outreach, local mission staff also offer hope and give comfort, encouraging trust in God and perseverance when adversity strikes. JMP is unique among nonprofits in the Armenian community, consistently providing medication for chronic illness, medical counseling, preventive education, and spiritual encouragement.
God, we choose to trust you and not succumb to fear. When violence stokes anxiety that ethnic and religious atrocities are happening again, give us courage and a spirit of reconciliation.
Protect innocent lives, and grant freedom for Christians to be a light in their homeland.
Give the Jinishian Memorial Program wisdom, resources, and holy imagination to rebuild the hope and the future of your people.
LEADERSHIP: Eliza Minasyan, Executive Director
Ms. Eliza Minasyan of Yerevan, Armenia, became Executive Director of the Jinishian Memorial
Program (JMP) in 2011. She serves the Jinishian office New York, NY, after having served the
previous five years as the Executive Director of the Jinishian Memorial program in Yerevan,
Ms. Eliza Minasyan has extensive experience building ecumenical relationships and networking with
international and local organizations. She also worked as a coordinator for Planning, Evaluation and
Training for Central and Eastern Europe of Heifer International USA and consultant at the Yerevan-
based Business Support Center. Visit our website at https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/world-mission/jinishian/.
Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).