Joseph (Hovsep) Hovsepian
Joseph Hovsepian has been the volunteer pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Montreal since 1984 but has been active in leadership there since he first immigrated to Canada in 1960. His ministry experience goes back even further than that, to his youth in Greece, where he was born to Armenian parents and raised in an evangelical Christian home and church. From writing gospel tracts to radio ministry, from missions trips to Armenia to sharing God’s love with people in his neighbourhood when they visit his radio repair shop, Hovsepian has poured his life into evangelism and missions.
Joseph Hovsepian’s parents, Vartevar and Ovsanna, were both born in 1915 in Turkey. They both lost their fathers during the Armenian genocide (between 1916-22). Hovsepian’s two widowed grandmothers, Dikranouhi (paternal) and Annig (maternal) fled the massacre, were rescued and arrived in Greece, each with a seven-year-old child in tow.
Vartevar surrendered his life to Jesus Christ at a young age and, later, while working for Ovsanna’s stepfather, he gave a New Testament to this young woman. One day, searching for something that was missing in her life, Ovsanna took the New Testament and started reading it while walking along the seashore alone. Her eyes fell on John 3 and, when she read verses 16 and 17, she fell on her knees and surrendered her life to Jesus Christ and made Him her Lord.
The change in Ovsanna was immediate and complete. She had found what she was searching for: a purpose for living and her creator and Lord. She never looked back. Vartevar and Ovsana were married not long after that and, in 1939, their son Joseph was born.
On January 1, 1951, at one minute past midnight, Joseph surrendered his life to the Lord at age 12, promising to serve Him. His leadership training began soon after that and he had opportunities to serve in Athens at evangelical camps and among the youth.
At the age of 17, Hovsepian volunteered to serve in the Royal Greek Air Force as a wireless engineer and worked in the V.I.P. unit, serving the king’s plane and others in high places. After 28 months of service, in 1960, Hovsepian immigrated to Canada. He spent ten days at sea and two days on a train from Halifax, finally arriving in Montreal tired, sick and almost penniless. Two days later, some friends introduced him to the people at the church around the corner from his home and there, at Temple Baptist Church, he found Christian love, made many new friends and found opportunities to serve God.
Hovsepian’s parents and younger sister followed him to Canada and within two years, as a family, they became very active in planting churches (Greek and Armenian) and helping others to plant churches in other languages. Soon afterward, he met Hasmig (also called Jessie), an Armenian believer from Egypt, who would become his marriage partner and co-worker in God’s kingdom.
At Temple, Hovsepian became active in leadership from the start, first as the chairman of the maintenance committee and as a deacon, and later as the church treasurer. He was also asked to teach and occasionally to preach and, eventually, to fill in as lay pastor whenever Temple was without a pastor.
In 1984, after a long stretch without a full-time pastor, the church asked Hovsepian to fill that role and he was inducted into the service. After two years of preaching and going through the proper requirements of the Baptist Convention and the Quebec Association, he was ordained.
Since then, he has played a key role in many wonderful and exciting experiences in the church’s life and history. Hovsepian has baptized close to 200 people, many of them from non-Christian backgrounds and faiths. Two tracts he wrote have been reproduced millions of times and distributed locally and around the world, one of them in 12 languages. He has been on the radio every day for over 12 years with a five-minute inspiration message at noon. His devotional book, God’s Workshop, was recently translated into Eastern Armenian and is being distributed freely in Armenia and surrounding areas.
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