Thomas Cosmades



Apraham Hoja of Aintab



Chapter 3

Second Revival in Marash   1907


The revival in Marash, home of the author, was extensively related at the beginning of this story.  That revival actually happened within the churches, with the congregations being greatly benefited.  The leaders of the churchesministers, elders, deacons and board memberssomehow were left outside of the extraordinary blessing from above.  They did not seem disposed to avail themselves of a deeper work of the Holy Spirit in their cold hearts.  When Christ said, “You must be born again,” no one was exempted, from Nicodemus down to the last ordinary individual of every age.  The revival remained a grassroots awakening.  This is to be regretted greatly.  What a difference it would have made if those in the forefront would have welcomed the revival in their own souls.   As a result, an unwelcome division occurred within the ranks of the church.  Those who were converted and blessed during the meetings were joyfully testifying, whereas the others seemed to be satisfied with their stance, apparently considering themselves sufficiently committed because of their important positions in the church. 


As in the apostolic days, ordinary people who gave joyful witness to their faith and were totally committed to the Lord Jesus Christ were not treated very kindly.  Apparently the words of the Psalmist were not remembered: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (107:2). Like the members of that determined tribunal who sought to silence the testimony of Peter and John, those who did not want to depart from their formalistic church life rebuked the new converts and tried to silence them. In the fervor of their new and blessed Christian experience, people wanted to stay longer in the evenings to pray and testify, but some of the leaders tactfully told them it was time to close the doors of the church and that they would have to leave. At times, the rejuvenated Christians refused to budge.  The lights were then extinguished, and sometimes men in the group were attacked and beaten because they ‘chose to obey God rather than man’, as they saw it. The believers identified themselves with the apostolic band in the early church who endured opposition, even persecution, from the religious establishment.  An unpleasant rift occurred between the newly-converted people and the older element in the church who were not convinced of the necessity of the new birth. 


Passions were running high.  It would have spared both sides if the elders of the church had appreciated Christ’s statement, “He who is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50).  But that was not to be.  The opposition to the witness of the new believers emanated from untouched hearts and closed minds.  The conflict caused genuine grief to those who were seeking to grow in grace and in their new faith.  There was a holy task before the preachers and elders of the church to assist people to gain ground in their knowledge and progress with the Lord.  The formalistic leaders had witnessed the mighty showers of blessing and noticed those who responded to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of nurturing them with praise and thanksgiving, they were now opposing this wide-spread transformation of lives among their number.  There is no doubt that the adverse attitude of the church leaders toward the new converts grieved the Holy Spirit.  The situation became quite unbearable.  The new converts who were aflame for the Lord Jesus Christ were compelled to leave the existing evangelical churches and start holding meetings in different homes.  A missionary, the Reverend James Burns wrote in his book, ‘Revivals―their Laws and Leaders’: “This sobering fact ought to be recalled, that nearly every great revival originated outside the church and awakened in her active and bitter hostility.” 


In April 1907 two scripture passages, Genesis 35:1-6 and Psalm 45:10, 11, became a subject of sober consideration for the new believers. “God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make there an altar to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments; then let us arise and go up to Bethel, that I may make there an altar to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’  So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.  And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were round about them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.  And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him…” (Genesis 35:1-6).  “Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; and the king will desire your beauty.  Since he is your master, bow to him… (Psalm 45:10, 11). 


The truths emanating from these passages impressed the new believers deeply, leading them to examine their lives.  They already had the assurance of their salvation, knowledge that their sins were forgiven and the witness of the Holy Spirit telling them they were sons and daughters of God.  Now they were being used to bring others to Christ.  They realized that they needed cleansing and the abundant victorious life.  In the light of the Scriptures they ‘pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14). With this conviction they came to realize that crucifixion to self, cleansing of the heart and a victorious life were the needs before them.  In quietness and confidence they gave themselves to fasting and prayer, asking the Lord to purge them from all worldly inclinations, empty them of self and fill them with his Holy Spirit. They were convinced that only then could they effectively serve their Redeemer.  They went on a retreat of seven weeks, corresponding to the period of Pentecost.  During this time the brothers who were gathered together—no women among them—were dealt with by the Holy Spirit about areas in their lives which needed repentance and rectification.


Mr. Bilezikian relates that he was spoken to in a vision from the one of the psalms: “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (139:23, 24).  Then the writer goes on to relate his vision:  “In a dream that night two heavenly visitors came to me.  Their heads were uncovered; their eyes and faces were as bright as the noonday sun.  Their appearance was indescribably beautiful.  As they stood side-by-side, one of them in a soft and gentle voice, whispered the words of this psalm into Bilezikian’s ear.  Bilezikian said that the words which spoke to him in such plain and direct language made a great impression on his heart and mind.  This illumination coming from the Holy Spirit proved to him that the inner person ought to be thoroughly examined since it is written in the Word: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?  I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17: 9, 10). This revelation led the group to totally obey God’s Holy Spirit.  They soon discovered that there were areas in their lives that had to be judged and forsaken.  Then the writer goes on to mention two cases of obedience to God’s admonition:


“Among us Brother Hamparsum Kelejian was a lumberman.  Prior to his conversion he had evaded paying taxes in the amount of forty ‘mejidyeh’ (one mejidyeh in those days was twenty kurush, one-fifth of a Turkish lira, a respectable sum at the time).  Following his conversion he wasn’t aware of the need of making things right.  During this period of self-examination the Holy Spirit pointed out to him that he had to confess his sin and make restitution.  Without delay he called the tax office, confessed his guilt and returned the forty mejidyeh.  The tax officials were taken aback.  This opened the way for him to give them a clear-cut testimony of Christ’s saving and sanctifying power.  Another case, Brother Moses Bilezikian—Vartan’s oldest brother—before his conversion had made a false statement involving some money in a business deal.  Convicted of his wrong-doing, he went to the aggrieved person, confessed his sin and made restitution.  The report of such deeds soon spread throughout the community, making a profound impression on everyone.  On hearing about these genuine acts of restitution, the Turks were amazed that the God of these people could so affect their lives as to bring them to such altruistic deliberations.


As the process of purification and restitution continued, the spiritual lives of the brothers were empowered and their testimony became more effective.  It was clear to all that their hearts were full of peace and joy.  A different kind of love was evidenced among the brothers, also a new unity and spirit of self-denial.  They sought to follow the apostolic way of life as recorded in Acts 4:32-37: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common.  And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need.  Thus Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means, son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”


Everybody was noticing that a fresh dignity had taken over the hearts of the believers. The band of transformed Christians became aware of the many needs surrounding them and started getting involved in reaching out with assistance, not the least of these being financial. In the meetings, prayer, preaching and hymn-singing manifested a power not witnessed until then. Both the Word of God and the personal testimonies came over with fresh resonance.  Of course, there were people who until then were not quite touched by the revival.  Nevertheless, they could not restrain themselves from being affected by the whole course of events which had so deeply touched lives.  This revival swept a large number of men and women into God’s kingdom. They immediately started enjoying the delight of the new birth and joined the ranks of the believers.  Genuine Christian life was in evidence everywhere.   


As the working of the Holy Spirit was noticeable throughout the whole community the adversary was eager to creep in with his diabolical schemes.  Into this new fellowship some snuck in, carrying the program of the enemy who appeared as an angel of light.  They soon showed themselves to be spots in the feasts of the believers.  Their manner of talk and teaching ran contrary to the word of God: “It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 19). It became excruciatingly lamentable that heresies reminiscent to the time of the apostles once again manifested themselves. Paul’s admonition to the elders of the Ephesian church in his farewell message came to mind: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30).


Those who discovered the secret of the committed life to Christ started living according to the Lord’s requirements.  However, regrettably, some drew back, falling into teachings not consistent with the scriptures.  But those who were enjoying the presence of the Lord began praying daily for the others.  To everyone’s joy, quite a few of them found their way back into the fold.  The whole group could sing with Micah, the prophet of old: “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me” (7:8). David spoke with similar words following his restoration to communion with the Lord: “…though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD is the stay of his hand” (Psalm 37:24).  We all rejoice over the return of a lapsed believer, offering thanks to the Savior who lifted up the one in error.  On the other hand, we equally lament for the harm done to the life of the one who did not take his new-found faith seriously and did not consider the harm done to the community of believers.  The Apostle Paul had this sort of lapsing in mind when he wrote to Timothy: “Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Timothy 4:16). 


In ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, Christian and Hopeful on their journey from the City of Destruction to Mount Zion endured a severe test.  They left the road, lost their way and fell into the hands Giant Despair.  In his hand they suffered cruel beatings.  God’s grace reached down and brought them back to the right path, to the King’s Highway, where they once again were safe.  To prevent others from falling into the hands of Giant Despair, they set up a pillar on which they engraved the following warning: “Over this step is the way to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair.  He despises the King of the Celestial Country and seeks to destroy his holy pilgrims.”  Many, therefore, who followed after, read what was written and escaped the danger.  Having left this warning, Christian and Hopeful continued their pilgrimage till they came to the Delectable Mountains, which Mountains belong to the Lord.