Thomas Cosmades





The house meetings were picking up momentum, and again large numbers were attending.  Murat Guregian was a young blind teenager.  He relates his testimony: "Bored with sitting at home, I decided to walk down to the Marmara seafront.  As I was walking along the shore, a middle-aged lady I had never met before approached me.  After greeting me, she said there was going to be a house gathering and asked me if I would like to join in.  I accepted, as I didn't have anything else to do anyway.  With a cane in my hand I followed her.  I got on the tram with this woman whose name I later found out was Azniv Hemshire[1].  She took me all the way to Ortakoy.  A very gentle-sounding man was explaining about the love of Jesus, the Savior.  I learned his name was Vahram.  The way he played his violin and led the lively singing captured my heart.  That day I repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.  This happened in 1947."  There were many like Murat who were converted at the very first meeting they happened to attend.

New people were coming to the meetings, listening with enthusiasm to God's Word — and most of them got saved!  As in the past gatherings, there was hardly room to stand.  Usually Vahram preached.  Sometimes he read from Charalambos Bostanjoglu's book, "The Second Coming of Christ". Men and women silently wept as they listened.  Then they asked questions about the way of salvation and received the grace of God into their lives.  To those who were converted, Vahram taught the necessity of holiness, studying the Bible, praying and leading sinners to the Lord.

Vahram's burden for the unsaved was so impelling that in the meetings they could barely extricate themselves from its effect.  Many times the Holy Spirit laid someone on his heart and led him to fast and pray until that person got converted.  When new believers fell into a static state, he would anoint them with oil and pray for them.  He regularly visited the section for the elderly at the Yedikule Armenian Hospital and would tell them of the love and concern of God in very simple language.  He led these people who had one foot in the grave into the reality of peace with God.  When some referred to their religious accomplishments and good deeds, he would ask them a question: "In your seventy, eighty or ninety years have you managed to live a totally sinless life?"  After Vahram departed for the Middle Eastern countries, many of these old people would gather and share how they had been saved through Vahram's insistence.  He was a man who helped fill heaven.

How did Vahram relate to Muslims whom he encountered daily?  First of all, he showed them deep love and respect.  Whenever he started speaking to a Muslim, he first centred on his testimony.  He would tell how he had been a sinner with a deep longing for justification, and that he finally realised that Jesus Christ had been hung on the cross for him.  When he believed this, Christ redeemed him, snatched him from hell and transferred him to heaven.  Afterwards, Vahram would emphasise the uniqueness of the salvation provided by Christ.

Once he had to go to Gureba, one of the city hospitals, for a general check-up.  He was examined by eight doctors and their assistants.  He told all of them how Christ had saved and healed him.  One of the doctors asked for scientific evidence for what he was saying.  Without letting Vahram reply another doctor said, "Yes, Jesus is Healer."  So the door was open for an effective witness.  Vahram was not a person to miss any opportunity.

James K. Lyman, an old Congregational missionary who had spent his lifetime in Turkey said, "The supreme quality of Vahram's life was his unswerving loyalty to Jesus Christ.  Vahram taught me many truths and gave me many insights.  People would either run to him — which meant their running to Christ — or they would run away from him.  In that case it meant that they were running away from Christ and the new life he offered, just as stated in the New Testament: "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  Who is sufficient for these things?" (II Corinthians 2:15, 16).

  [1] hemshire (pronounced ‘hemsheereh) -- "sister" in Turkish. Believers address each other with their given name and either 'brother' or 'sister' afterwards, as the case may be.

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