While war has inflicted deep spiritual wounds on an entire generation in Armenia, Georg Ayvazyan uses another form of fighting–boxing and martial arts–to share the hope and healing found in their faith.
Ayvazyan, who lives in the city of Vanadzo with his wife and children, began to follow Jesus at a camp at the age of 16. Ministry to youth has always remained close to his heart, and he understands the amount of time many young people spend in sports and recognizes it as an important way of reaching them.
With this foundation in mind, God placed the idea for Fight Life on Ayvazyan’s heart. It was a vision to start a gym for ministry to Armenia’s youth, and he believed he could start teaching karate.
There were a few details that needed to be worked out, though. For starters, he needed a facility, but he had no money to buy one. Believing that God would provide, he signed a contract on a building and began remodeling with the help of donated money. After they finished remodeling, war broke out and devastated many families from the country.
“My club, friends, every family in Armenia–everyone was brokenhearted,” he said.
The pandemic added to the trials of the war, and the combination of both caused the city’s MMA and jiu-jitsu clubs to close. Yet Ayvazyan’s gym remained open.
“We are open because… we can help this generation regain belief and hope and bring them life,” Ayvazyan said. “We understand sport is the best tool for that idea. Through sport, they can feel safe, feel like a winner, feel like family.
“Many guys lost brothers and fathers and can find that feeling in this gym. Fight Life is not just a gym, but a family.”
After a year in the small gym and ministering to more than 100 athletes, it was evident Fight Life needed to expand to a larger facility. Ayvazyan found one, but once again had no money to purchase it or the needed equipment. God’s provision shone through when the owner of the facility allowed him flexibility in payment and others provided donations for rent and equipment.
God also provided the ability to open another gym in the city of Spitak, and now Ayvazyan’s dream is to open 10 sport clubs in Armenia’s largest cities.
“Many guys now open their hearts, because after the war, their hearts are like stone,” he said. “They don’t talk with anyone, they don’t trust anyone, but after meetings and training together, they open their hearts.”
Among those whose lives have been impacted include two MMA fighters who trained with them and began to understand their faith. They are now trainers with Fight Life.
“We are in God’s vision,” said Ayvazyan. “It is not about us, but what God wants, and that is what we are doing. He gives us this vision, and we move.”
This is only the beginning.
If the way God provided coaches, buildings and equipment wasn’t enough, there have also been the young men who have thanked them for sharing the love of God the Father after they lost their earthly fathers. Ayvazyan said when he reflects on all the miracles the ministry has experienced, it all points to God with them.
“This is only the beginning of Fight Life,” he said. “Right now, I see one puzzle piece, but God gives us another piece and He sees the big picture. I don’t know His story for Fight Life, but God does. This is only the beginning.”
Georg Ayvazyan asks for prayer that the war in Armenia would be pacified and that God would raise up faithful servants. Pray God would continue to provide physical resources for Fight Life and that He would soften the hearts of athletes to the love of God.
Photos courtesy of FCA Armenia