Thomas Cosmades



Apraham Hoja of Aintab


Chapter 2

The Appearance of Fredrik Franson on the Scene   1905


Revivals don’t go on perpetually.  The awakenings which made history in the cities referred to waned.  But the heart-longing of those who had experienced the blessing and uplift of revival induced them to pray unceasingly, “Lord, please do it again!”  They had faith in God Almighty that he was able to rekindle the flame of the awakening which had brought many people into the kingdom of God and enriched so many lives.  It was the fall of 1905, almost a hundred years from the time of the Haystack Prayer Meeting at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  Word reached the believers in Marash that a renowned missionary-evangelist had included their city on his global itinerary.  They rejoiced at the news of the coming of this foreigner whom they didn’t know at all.  They were informed of the day of his arrival and a number of them went to the outskirts of the city to welcome him.  This was their first encounter with Fredrik Franson (1852-1908), a Swede with American citizenship. He was a true follower of Jesus Christ and one who spread the Good News in many places. When the believers of Marash first caught a glimpse of him, galloping toward them on his horse like a happy warrior, they were excited.  His flashing blue eyes and shining face captivated the attention of everybody.  He took a good look at those who came to welcome him. One after another they introduced themselves. Like the Apostle Paul being welcomed on the outskirts of Rome at the Appius Forum, Franson thanked God and took courage (cf. Acts 28:15).  The believers sensed that their unabated earnest, expectant prayers for renewed revival had been answered. 


On the same evening, a general meeting was called in one of the evangelical churches in Marash.  The place was packed.  Unfortunately, there is no record as to who was his interpreter.  God’s quickening word captivated the audience with mighty power, even before it could be translated. The longed-for revival started that first evening and continued for more than six weeks.  Each day saw the attendance increasing.  People were not only packed into every available space in the auditorium, but were clinging to the doors and sitting on window sills in order to see Mr. Franson and hear his anointed message.  The church was crowded hours before the set time of the meeting.  As words fell from the interpreter’s lips, men and women were convicted by their impact. The messages were short, simple and generously enriched with pungent parables.  Quickening illustrations and anecdotes made the truth live.  He spoke to his listeners of their need to repent, of the joy of obedience to the will of God, of the brevity of life and the certainty of judgment to come.  Behind his words the people saw a real giant of the faith whose heart was aflame with the love of God.  He was passionately convinced that he was on a divine mission to his hearers.  At the close of his messages he tenderly and compassionately appealed to everyone to forsake evil and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  As desert travelers run to cold water, thirsty souls ran to Christ, who was presented as the Fountain of Living Water where salvation and satisfaction were freely lavished on all who believed. 


People from all backgrounds and walks of life came to hear Fredrik Franson’s messages.  The gatherings took on an ecumenical character as Evangelicals, Armenian Apostolics and Catholics, as well as other people, eagerly attended every meeting.  Great numbers responded to his call for salvation.  Other than the conversion of sinners, Christians not thoroughly discipled were suddenly quickened.  Their appreciation of the faith of Christ reached new heights.  The enjoyment of triumphant days experienced in the previous awakening returned. The great majority of people in the city were indifferent to the truth of God, including gamblers, coffee-house regulars, tavern keepers and drunkards.  But even from among these a good number of downcast sinners were attracted to the meetings. There the convicting and regenerating power of the Holy Spirit conquered their benighted hearts. They openly confessed their sins and became new creatures in Christ. This was a Holy Spirit-sent revival, in every meaning of the word.  A mere writing cannot do justice to what happened there.



Fredrik Franson –

Faithful to the Great Commission


Fredrik Franson was a man sent from God.  Such preaching in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit had never been heard in the city.  The blessing went on—day after day, week after week.  When he preached, his eyes and his face were literally transfigured.  Saints and sinners alike saw no one except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  After the conclusion of these revival meetings which shook the whole city of Marash, Fredrik Franson moved on to nearby Aintab, then up to Van and Harput in the northeast before going south again to Aleppo, Beirut and even on to Baghdad.  Hardly any city in the Middle East was left untouched.  God’s blessing was evident throughout his journey, attending his preaching everywhere.


Mr. Bilezikian offered some insights about Fredrik Franson.  Some readers may have heard a great deal about him; others probably not.  We shall record here the information supplied by this man who witnessed Franson’s ministry.  Franson was born in Pershyttan, Sweden, on June 17, 1852.  He migrated to the United States with his parents at the age of sixteen.  When he was twenty, in answer to his mother’s prayers, he experienced a remarkable conversion.  After that, one day he repeated to himself the words of Romans 10:6-8: “…Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”  Then, as in a vision and with a voice as though someone else was speaking, there came to him the rest of the passage in great power: “But what does it say?  The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith…)” This certitude moved him.  The divine light flooded his heart. In his soul he experienced the illumination that turned darkness into light, a light which was never quenched; conversely it glowed with radiance wherever he went on land or sea. Having experienced so wonderful a salvation and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he offered himself without reservation from that very hour to God’s service.  Carrying only a small satchel for his basic needs and his Bible, he tirelessly traveled from continent to continent.   We should pray for present-day missionaries in Turkey to be endowed by the Holy Spirit with the same power given to this effective, outstanding evangelist.


About three years later, in 1875, Franson read how God had been mightily using Dwight L. Moody, a humble and dedicated man, to bring many to the knowledge of the Savior.  Franson took a deep interest in the famous evangelist and decided to go to Chicago to experience for himself the blessings of D. L. Moody’s meetings.   From the very outset, he observed God’s working through this plain but consecrated servant. He soon joined D. L. Moody’s team of workers, taking active part in street meetings where he fervently preached the Gospel and invited people to believe in Christ and to attend the evangelistic services.  Mr. Moody became aware of the extraordinary zeal of this young Scandinavian fellow.  He and the whole church which bore his name offered Franson credentials to aid him in securing the cooperation and fellowship of Christians in his prospective evangelistic outreaches.  While Fredrik Franson accepted these credentials his ‘greater credentials’ of devotion to Christ, the anointing and commissioning of the Holy Spirit, were sufficient.  He seldom, if ever, used the certificate given to him by the church in Chicago. 


At the age of twenty-three Fredrik Franson received God’s call to be an evangelist not only in the United States, but throughout the whole world.  God honored this unpresumptuous servant of his, using him in the ministry for thirty-three years.  He circled the globe three times—in that day!preaching Christ everywhere, leaving behind a great army of converts, many consecrated Christians and newly-formed churches. In addition, Franson was used by God to start mission societies in several countries with the aim of taking the Gospel to people around the world.  The first of these was the Scandinavian Alliance Mission founded in 1890.  This mission eventually extended its activity to North America recruiting missionaries particularly for China in cooperation with Hudson Taylor.  It eventually came to be known as The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). TEAM continues to send men and women worldwide to preach Christ by all means and uplift the needy, sick and destitute.  Franson also contributed to the establishment of German missions.


In 1908 he returned to the States from his very taxing world tour.  He was totally exhausted and needed rest.  But he immediately started making his schedule for his next preaching itinerary.   It was Saturday, August 7. He had just preached at an evening meeting and was scheduled to speak again the next morning.  Suddenly he became ill.  A few friends came to his room to see how he was faring. They found him in bed with his eyes raised up to heaven in prayer.  He refused them permission to call a physician, saying, “My doctor is Jesus.”  Without prolonged sickness, pain or suffering, he passed into the presence of his Savior that very night, who met him with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).