Thomas Cosmades





Vahram's wide-ranging efforts caused tension in his relationship with the Bible Society.  The Society's method everywhere was strictly selling books.  The colporteur was not supposed to get involved in witnessing and preaching.  When the Society's director once again reminded him of this, Vahram realised that the time had come for him to make a decision.  The Holy Spirit had called him to witness, preach and encourage people to commit their lives to Christ.  How could he be disobedient to this charge?  To make a concession just to avoid trouble was unacceptable.  Seven years had come and gone; many books had been sold.  He now resolved that this service must come to an end.  The director accepted his resignation with deep regret.  When this ministry stopped at the end of 1937, Vahram was stripped of the small salary he had been receiving.  However, his trust wasn't in the Society, but in his heavenly Father who would not let him go hungry.

The Bible Society director, Lyman McCallum, was very sad to lose such a diligent worker.  In fact, he continued to give Vahram a small stipend out of his own pocket.  God, the source of every blessing, didn't fail in meeting all of Vahram's needs.  One of his supporters was brick-maker Hovannes Jevherian.  Whenever he had a suit or coat tailored, or bought a new pair of shoes, he would supply the same for Vahram.  Isn’t it written in the Scriptures?  "A liberal man will be enriched, and the one who waters will himself be watered" (Proverbs 11:25).

In 1943 Hovannes Jevherian suffered with the extreme tax imposition placed on the minorities.  It was called ‘Varlik Vergisi’ which means ‘tax on wealth.’  He hurried to David Giray, thinking he could help him.  But to his dismay, he discovered that David was under the same imposition.  So the two of them started to pray.  While they were praying, Vahram dropped in and said, "Brother Hovannes, don't worry!  About this time yesterday I was praying and the Lord revealed to me that your tax imposition would be paid."  And by God's provision this happened.

For information's sake: This happened at the height of Hitler's conquest of Europe.  Whoever failed to pay this unreasonable imposition on minority business people within two weeks' time, his business and other property, such as house or land, were impounded by the government.  Even then, the proceeds of these sales did not suffice to pay the merciless tax.  Then the person was shipped to Ashkale in eastern Anatolia to work on road construction for a pittance.  Naturally at this ridiculous wage he could never work long enough to wipe out his debt.  One can well understand that this forced labor resulted in the death of many minority business people.  Finally Hitler's armies started retreating in Europe.  This signalled deliverance for the survivors who then returned to Istanbul as broken men.

Vahram shared such aforementioned visions with the brothers and sisters, always bringing encouragement and uplift to their hearts.  Often when a brother or sister was undergoing some ordeal, Vahram would have a word from the Lord for that person.  The believers had been taught to share all their concerns with each other for prayer, so that even when they were undergoing hard testings they still had confidence in God's care.

Although Vahram severed his relationship with the Bible Society he continued selling books as before, only he bought them at a discount with his own money.  He now felt at liberty to witness as he was led and he was also free to attend the house meetings. As the house gatherings expanded a larger meeting place had to be found.  The believers began to pray.  Overlooking the Golden Horn on the Haskoy hills was a derelict Protestant church building.  All the families connected to this church had left the area.  There was neither preacher nor caretaker.  Vahram was able to secure the key from one of the elders of another church.  With the help of all the able-bodied men, the place was put in order and opened for meetings.  The provision was certainly from God.  Regular meetings were started.  At this time when the doors of functioning churches were closed to them Vahram's Lord unlocked an unused church for the many converts when they desperately needed one.  During the years of World War II this church became one of the city's important centres for prayer.  People walked long distances to attend meetings here.

Meanwhile, on Sunday mornings Vahram was conducting another meeting in Uskudar at the American Academy.  They were the only meetings on the Asiatic side.  His messages brought rich blessing to many.  He considered the Asiatic side of the city crucial for evangelism.  He would often visit homes and lead family Bible studies there.  One of these places was Maltepe, way out on the Asiatic side where a much-loved Muslim family lived.  Vahram would travel from the city to Haydarpasha by ship, then catch the train from there to travel to Maltepe.  From the train station he would walk for half an hour to reach their home.   One evening he visited until late.  Darkness had fallen.  The lady of the house offered him a lantern.  "Don't worry, woman," said Hasan bey, her husband.  "He walks with his Lord, who will light his way.  Nothing can harm him."

The meetings had spread in every direction on both sides of the Bosphorus, but the focal point was in Gedikpasha where the largest concentration of people eager for the Word of God lived.  In that congested area, when the weather was hot, doors and windows of the houses would be thrown open.  Some of the neighbors were unhappy with this because words of conviction emanating from inside, along with testimonies and songs were heard all around.  At times, believers were even beaten as they left the meeting.  The Holy Spirit was supporting Christ’s witness and the testimony was permeating many areas. This was one of the distinguishing marks of the revival.  It began by the Holy Spirit with a tiny spark, but spread like wildfire.  On certain occasions, whole families would respond to the Savior's call and immediately start declaring their new faith in Christ.

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