On August 25, 2014, two women decided that they had to do something about the Christians who are dying daily for their faith. They had just seen a video of an Armenian girl in Syria. She was tied to a pillar and was being spat upon by men who were calling her a filthy Christian. The girl’s eyes blazed through the screen. Her lips did not move. She was waiting calmly for her death.
The women were an Armenian lawyer and an American professor: an Apostolic Christian and a Catholic. They had seen newscast after newscast from Syria about the plight of the Christian communities. They had seen the photographs of the massacres of Maaloula and Homs. They were tired of just watching.
The idea that came to them that night was simple: to recruit young Christians who belong to the ancient communities in peril for American liberal arts colleges, and by so doing to guarantee their safety and their education. There were a number of reasons why they thought that theirs would be a successful idea. Protecting students by facilitating their entry into US colleges is not permanently to remove them from their communities or homelands. It is to give them a haven from which they can return home once and if their homes are safe. Educating the Christian youth is also to provide the Ancient Christian communities of the with world young leaders and to ensure their continuity.
By September 1 the women, Rita Mahdessian and Siobhan Nash-Marshall, had already begun to negotiate with Professor Nash-Marshall’s College, Manhattanville, for expedited admission for Syrian Christians, and enlarged their founding board to include Amal Marogy, a Chaldean professor at Cambridge, Vivianne Haber, an Antiochian Orthodox Christian professor at Lomelinda, Joanne Unis Mokhtarian, a Maronite Christian, and Anahit Martikyan, an Armenian Apostolic Christian business woman. They wanted an organization that would include members of all of the large ancient Christian communities so that all communities would be helped. They knew that they were blazing a new path of collaboration between Christians.
In November the women registered their foundation, Christians in Need Foundation USA, and finalized a deal with Manhattanville College, which will accelerate the admissions process of those students whose applications are forwarded by CINF USA, expedite the issuance of the I-20 papers for those students who are accepted, and give CINF USA students a substantial discount.
The novelty and importance of the project was immediately perspicuous to such prominent world figures as Antonia Arslan and the Baroness Cox, both of whom delightedly joined CINF USA’s advisory board.
CINF USA learned that it had to alter its path. Although the initial 8 students recruited had appropriate funding and papers, they were not given asylum in the US.
Now CINF USA sends young Americans to the ancient Christian communities. It is here that it is meeting with great success.