WILL SHINE LIKE THE STARS FOREVER
THE CHAIR, THE CHASE, THE CONSTITUTION
In Vahram's ministry there were naturally some amusing situations. One day he was speaking in a crowded house meeting. Some were enjoying his message; others were obviously disgruntled. Suddenly a husky, well-built fellow walked up to where Vahram was sitting. With amazing ease, he lifted Vahram, chair and all, and removed him bodily out onto the street where he unceremoniously dumped him. Some laughed uncontrollably; others were upset.
Vahram was at a meeting on the island of Kinali where rich Armenians spend the summer. In the meeting there was a woman who had turned to Jesus Christ. Her husband was furious. He warned her, "I strictly forbid you to attend those meetings!" But the woman had a deep hunger for spiritual truth so she determined to go, come what may. When the meeting finished, there was only a few minutes' time to get to the scheduled ferryboat. Vahram said his goodbyes quickly and ran at top speed for the quay. Unbeknown to him, the husband had been waiting outside. Seeing Vahram come out of the house, he chased him. Vahram was racing down the street and the man was at his heels, but couldn't catch him. If he could just get hold of him, he'd give Vahram the thrashing of his life! Vahram was totally unaware of the chase — he was simply running for all he was worth to catch the ferryboat. At last he just managed to jump onto the boat as it was edging away from the quay-side. The man had failed to catch Vahram, but consoled himself with the thought that he had inspired such fear in his intended victim. With great relish he declared to everyone: "I made that man run so fast that when he was cut off on all sides by the sea, he was just able to hurl himself onto the boat. If he hadn't had a stroke of luck, I'd have beaten the living daylights out of him, the poor wretch." The women who knew the real truth of the matter could not stop chuckling to themselves. When Vahram heard what had happened, he praised the Lord for his own deliverance from harm and lifted up a prayer for the salvation of his pursuer.
Boat trips to the Princess Islands, Uskudar, Kadikoy or along the Bosphorus always were looked at as opportunities to spread the Good News. Often a conversation that was started with one person would in a matter of minutes involve others around until it became a public discourse. Selling books provided the starting point for many a friendly conversation, helped spread God's Word, and provided pocket money. People's opinions of all these endeavors differed from person to person. Some bought books, others were interested, still others were hostile and a few mocked at him.
While waiting for the boat at one of the Princess Islands one day, Vahram's attention was drawn to a wealthy Greek man and his wife. After a brief prayer he approached the couple offering them a Greek New Testament. They were not interested. Five minutes later he offered them the Book of Proverbs. The woman glanced through it, was interested and bought it. Vahram withdrew from them and following a silent prayer approached them again. This time he sold them a New Testament. A friend travelling with him asked, “What was it that turned the indifference of this unconcerned couple into such interest?” “It was the power of God in answer to prayer,” replied Vahram. Before approaching people, he would always approach God.
Picture Vahram with his violin and Artaki with his harmonica as they stand in an open square playing their instruments, singing hymns and declaring the Gospel of God. What a golden opportunity to spread the Good News to so many people! A policeman appears on the scene to see what is happening. After a while the crowd disperses. The policeman knows Vahram and where he lives. A short time later there is a knock at the door. This policeman summons Vahram and Artaki to the police station. Addressing his chief he says, "My inspector, these men gathered a crowd around them and were preaching about Jesus and Moses." Soberly the inspector says, "Instead of wandering around talking about Jesus and Moses, give yourselves to a worthwhile business that brings in some cash. What do you think Moses and Jesus can do for you if you've got no money?"
Vahram answers, "Mr. Inspector, money is a good thing, but it can't take anyone to eternity. The good news we proclaim brings people who believe in Jesus to a bright eternity." These words didn't mitigate the inspector. "These men are whacky," he says. "Look, in this country we got laws, and we're going to deal with you by the book." He doesn't want to send them to the state prosecutor without a charge, so he reaches for the constitution on the shelf and sifts through it carefully. He thumbs through the whole book from cover to cover. How strange! He seems to have drawn a blank. He cannot find any mention of this kind of behavior as being unlawful. "There's no law about Moses and Jesus," he mutters. "So how can I send them to the state prosecutor without a charge?" So saying, he lets them both go free. Here was an official who understood and applied the rules of the secular state. Their being brought to him could only have been providential.
The inspector had suggested that they give themselves to some money-making proposition. True, Vahram was penniless. He lived in his sister's home and fellow-believers often invited him home for a meal. Usually he didn't even have enough money in his pocket for the tram, so he would go to meetings on foot. He was living in Topkapi by the old city walls and had to get to a meeting in Gedikpasha near the Covered Bazaar. It was summertime. He didn't even have the ten kurush for the tram, so he had to walk. Praying as he walked, he arrived at the house an hour later. Thirty people were waiting for him and soon they were taken up with worshiping the Lord and hearing Vahram’s message. As people were dispersing after the lively and heart-warming meeting, an elderly sister shook his hand, pressing some small change into his palm. With this he was able to jump on a tram and get back to Topkapi.
Another day there was a very refreshing meeting in Gedikpasha. It was winter and the weather was cold. The last tram was at ten to one in the morning. The meeting went on and on, and he missed the tram. Knocking at the door of an elderly sister, he asked if she might have a place for him to spend the night. She had no spare bed. He went on to another house. The woman here said to him, "If you don't mind sharing a bed with my husband, come in; I'll sleep on the floor."
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