Christianity is this ancient country's key to survival: Where people defend their faith 'to the last drop of blood'

(Wikipedia)A view of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Inset at upper right shows the country's flag.

This ancient Christian country coveted by major powers is showing the world how a nation can survive by never relenting in its defence of its faith.

It has the same name as that of a state in the United States, but Georgia in the Caucasus region of Eurasia is a much older country where Christianity has existed since around 326 AD, a CBN News feature says.

Five crosses, symbolising Christianity's influence, adorn the Georgian national flag.

Georgia's history has been written in blood—the blood of Christian martyrs who refused to renounce their faith. In 1226 alone, Muslim invaders beheaded more than 100,000 Georgian Christians, according to Ioane Gamrekeli, a prominent leader in the Georgian Orthodox Church.

"Georgians have always had to defend their faith, even to the last drop of blood!" he said. "There've been numerous attempts by invading armies to force us to give up our faith, but we never backed down."

When the communist army of the Soviet Union invaded Georgia in 1921 and subsequently absorbed it into the union as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Church still endured despite decades of hardship, he said. When the Soviet empire eventually collapsed in 1991, Georgia regained its independence.

"Seventy years of atheism could not stop us [from practicing the faith]," Gamrekeli said.

Ethnographer Luarsab Togonidze noted that his country has been conquered by various armies in history.

"Georgians have gone through a lot because of our geographical location. Many armies, invaders would pass this way" including "the Ottomans, Persians, Greeks, the Byzantine empire, the Romans, the Mongols and the Russians," he said.

Just like other nations of the world, Georgia today faces new challenges. As Georgians confront these challenges, "the role of Christianity is even more significant," said Elene Kavlelashvili, curator at Georgia's National Museum.

She notes that her country stands at a crossroads where the interests of major powers from Central Asia, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East clash. Because of this, she said Georgia must once again stand to protect her heritage.

"I hope Georgia's example of unconditional love and dedication to faith are a testimony to all mankind," she said. "People should realise that the absence of faith is disastrous for a nation. Christianity is how we survived in the past and it's how we will survive in the future."

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