The Christians In Need Foundation (CINF) is a nonprofit organization serving Christian communities in the Middle East and Near East since its founding in 2014 by Siobhan Nash-Marshall and Rita Mahdessian in Glendale, California. Its mission is to preserve ancient Christian traditions in their diversity so that they can continue to inform the communities to which they belong and inform in a coherent way about actions that will help these communities, particularly in the Middle East and the Caucasus, to thrive economically, socially, and culturally.
In November 2014, CINF arranged for eight Syrian Christians to study in the United States, with the goal of helping to preserve the cultures of the communities to which the students belonged through education. Yet when the program was to be launched, all eight student visas were denied.
In 2015, CINF decided to backtrack and send teachers abroad to live and work with Christian communities in the Middle East and Caucasus. That summer, in response to a request for help, CINF sent its first volunteer teacher, a recent college graduate, to Tashir, Armenia, to teach English to 150 children at the Diramayr Hayastani Ketron summer camp. During his stay in Tashir, the volunteer got to know the community, its virtues and its particular needs. She has also developed important skills: leadership, communication, organization and cooperation.
The 2015 experience has become the model for CINF’s work. Through her, the Council realized that it was meant to serve both Christians in the Middle and Near East as well as Western youth. By sending ambitious young volunteers, especially from America, to live in ancient Christian communities, CINF could help educate both. This international exchange has become a defining feature of CINF’s work.
Then, in the summer of 2017, CINF sent two new volunteers, again recent American graduates, to Stepanakert, Artsakh. For three months, they taught English and formed friendships with local Armenian Christians. Their results were remarkable and confirmed the CINF pathway.