Growing up, author Dawn Anahid MacKeen heard her grandfather Stepan Miskjian’s stories of surviving the 1915 Armenian genocide, in which an estimated 1.2 million Armenians lost their lives in mass deportations initiated by the Ottoman Empire’s ruling forces. For four years, Stepan and many other Armenians struggled in the face of unspeakable horrors, doing all they could to remain alive.
But Stepan did something more—he filled notebooks recounting his experiences, vowing “it was my duty to put to paper what I saw.” When his journals were discovered by his relatives in the United States, Dawn MacKeen read them and slowly came to understand that her entire family existed because her grandfather had survived while many had perished.
Realizing that she had a moral responsibility to tell Stepan’s story and that of the genocide—a fact that Turkey refused to acknowledge—MacKeen began a decade-long journey that involved having Stepan’s journals translated, retracing his escape route in Turkey and Syria, and writingThe Hundred-Year Walk to expose the atrocities of one empire’s attempt to eradicate an entire ethnic group.
Throughout the narrative, Stepan’s Christian faith shines through. He repeatedly called out to God for help and experienced numerous miraculous interventions. He wasn’t alone in leaning on God in his trials; his notebooks relate stories of other Armenians who threw themselves on God’s mercy and goodness even as their deaths were imminent. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
About the Author
Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.