Thomas Cosmades

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WILL SHINE LIKE THE STARS FOREVER

CHAPTER 37

 

RETURN TO ISTANBUL

How quickly the time had flown since saying good-bye to the brothers and sisters at the Galata wharf in Istanbul!  About two years had passed, packed with unforgettable revivals and other experiences. But now the day had come to return to Istanbul.  At his departure he had told his praying friends that he planned to see them again after six months.  But God had other plans and kept Vahram away for a period four times that long.

As he set out from Jerusalem for Beirut, he was rejoicing in what the Lord had accomplished in each place of his ministry. The many new believers were now a precious memory in his mind.  En route, he stopped in Damascus to see the fellow-Christians.  From there it was a journey of about three hours to Beirut.  He could not spend much time there as by this time he was quite eager to return home.  He boarded a ship of the Turkish Maritime Lines going to Istanbul.  He was looking forward to a reunion with his faithful friends who would be waiting for him. For the past two years they had been faithfully interceding for him.  Again he evangelized on board ship during the several-day voyage.

The friends of the scattered fellowships in Istanbul who had received word of his coming were at the seafront to welcome their beloved Vahram.  He was a time-honored friend of the company of believers who followed Christ (Acts 14:26-28).  Immediately the house meetings resumed, where Vahram enthusiastically related his varied experiences and ministries under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He also explained in detail about the many fellow-Christians in the lands where he had travelled.  In this way, he established a relationship between those believers and the ones in Istanbul.  God was again opening up a fruitful period of service in Istanbul and Anatolia.

It was Vahramís practice to refer to a scripture verse before he prayed or preached.  It is a custom of the Muslims to utter the word 'Bismillah'[1] before they begin any kind of work.  So Vahram reasoned, why shouldn't he begin his spiritual work with a verse of Scripture?  An example of this can be shown from one day in Beirut when he started his message with this verse: "To Him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever" (Psalm 136:4).  While his heart was full of joy at the mighty deeds of God in the Middle East, the Holy Spirit seemed to be stretching his thinking to entirely new horizons.  So he prayed, "Oh Lord, where do you want me to serve you in my remaining years?  If I am to take up my work again in Istanbul where I left off, I am ready to joyfully accept it.  But if you are going to open up new fields to me, I will accept this challenge with equal delight.  I simply want to know your sovereign will."

While still engaged in ministry in the Middle East, he had received an earnest letter from his sister and brother-in-law, Dikranuhi and Misak Balian, who were living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, pleading with him, "When are you coming to visit us? There are great opportunities for preaching the Gospel in South America.  Everywhere people are eager to hear the Good News.Ē  So they were pressuring him to visit Argentina.

Being greatly encouraged with the Lord's blessing on his ministry in the Middle East, Vahram wrote in a letter to his sister Beatrice in Istanbul, "Perhaps it is God's design that I should go to South America."  And he asked her to pray for him to make the right decision.  The Holy Spirit had for a long time been impressing the same vision for her brother upon Beatrice.  So she wrote: "Yes, I believe it must be the Lord's will that you go to serve him in South America."

After he returned to Istanbul Vahram continued to pray about this matter, without telling his friends.  Whenever he was seeking Godís guidance he didn't consult with anyone.  Once he had received the answer he would then share with others the specific leading of his heavenly Father.  He persevered in prayer, full of faith and confidence.  When he received a positive reply he trusted God to work out the details about his departure.  In the meantime, Vahramís active ministry in Istanbul and Anatolia continued unabated.

It took a few years for intentions to be finalized. Vahramís sister in South America sent the required invitation, along with a boat ticket for the voyage starting from Beirut.  But entry into Argentina was more difficult than had been foreseen.  Even with an invitation in hand a person was not necessarily allowed to enter the country.  But Vahramís mission was underwritten by the Lord Himself and He would accomplish it.  Humanly speaking, the brothers and sisters in Istanbul were sad at the prospect of his taking off again.  But at the same time they rejoiced with the new door of opportunity.  God's work was not limited to his being with them. With this conviction, they committed him into the Lord's safe-keeping and sent him on his way to Beirut with prayer, hymns and their good wishes.  By now, it was 1956.  He travelled by train over Aleppo to Beirut and as always, sold many books and witnessed to people along the way.  He felt an increasing urgency to make Jesus Christ known to everyone.


 

  [1] 'In the name of Allah'

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