WILL SHINE LIKE THE STARS FOREVER
Evangelizing on Board ~~ Back in Buenos Aires
Following a valuable ministry in Montevideo Vahram felt he should return to Buenos Aires. He would travel by ship. He and four other brothers prayed for Godís clear guidance. When assured that the time was right, they set sail. The ship was packed. Looking at the large crowd Vahram said to his friends, ďBrothers, how beautiful it will be to hold a meeting here!Ē The others readily agreed. After holding an impromptu prayer session among themselves on board, Vahram gave the go-ahead: ďLetís begin and if they stop us, weíll have no choice but to comply.Ē So he started preaching Christ in Armenian with translation into Spanish. His mixed audience had never seen or been in such an extraordinary evangelistic rally. Neither had they ever heard a speaker addressing them through interpreter. They pressed more and more around the small band while everyone listened in rapt attention. They didnít notice that the ship had started to list. The alarmed captain suddenly appeared on the scene, wanting to see the preacher. When he found out that the man did not speak Spanish, he used the interpreterís services: ďYou are doing a very good work, but this is not the place to do it. Come, let me take you to the lounge where you can give your message safely and more conveniently both for you and for your audience. Vahram begged the captainís pardon and thanked him for providing a suitable place for the meeting. The whole crowd followed him to the lounge where he continued to evangelize them.
Ever since he had left Buenos Aires the folks there were praying for his return. They were thrilled when their supplications were finally answered. Once again he was going strong in Buenos. In one of the meetings he ran across Armenuhi Himidian, a lady he had known from one of the Middle Eastern cities. She began explaining her condition. She and her husband had sold their home, business and everything else and moved to Argentina. In the new country their former devotion to the Lord gradually dissipated. She took Vahram home to her husband. Following a cordial talk, they both broke down in tears of confession and renewed dedication. Immediately afterward, they started attending prayer meetings with restored joy in their Savior. What had been witnessed in the past in Istanbul, Anatolia, Aleppo, Beirut and Amman was being duplicated here. The evening prayer meetings at seven were followed by preaching where there was good attendance. The devilís hostility and resistance were ongoing, but Vahram continually challenged believers to overcome the enemyís vicious attacks through earnest prayer.
Previously the believers in Buenos Aires had not enjoyed such exhilaration. Many people were kind of accustomed to the low ebb of spiritual life, but now they were experiencing showers of blessing. Sinners were being converted, lapsed believers restored, broken relationships reinstated. Those who never knew how to pray audibly were now experiencing the freedom to pray out loud. Vahram Tatikian never failed to impress on Godís children the need to pray in public. The Holy Spirit was in manifest action; Christ was becoming personal and real to people. Those who found their way back to the Savior witnessed boldly. Literature distribution surpassed all previous efforts. The bond of love was evident. Many people were remarking about the change in their church circles.
Vahramís simple messages could be understood even by children. Many youngsters responded to the invitation for salvation, so a childrenís choir was formed made up of these new little converts. The element of love was kneaded into every message. All believers who had witnessed refreshing times in Anatolia happily remembered those joyful days. Their hearts were directed to heaven. Those who had unsaved spouses, children or relatives became burdened in a new way to intercede and draw their loved ones to Jesus Christ. Young people who were converted reflected their newly-found faith by reaching out to their friends. They wanted to share with them their new purpose-filled life. At the conclusion of the evening meetings many stayed until midnight to pray and testify. They related their experiences of how they were witnessing to people in different parts of the city.
After the meetings Vahram was led to the homes of people who couldnít come to hear the message. There he continued his admonition with the same fervency. Many a sick person found healing, but first and above all they were told of their need for assurance of salvation. There were instances of healing. However, Vahram never made much of this element in his preaching or when challenging people to come to Christ. In passing, he might refer to a healing, giving the glory to God. His prime concern was the salvation of sinners. He would say, ďGod did not commission me to be a dispenser of health, but a proclaimer of the Good News through his son.Ē On one occasion, a ninety-year-old woman was saved. Shortly thereafter, she was transferred to Christís presence. A sick person in a family was saved and also healed. The family made a commitment that the same amount of money they had been spending on the sick personís medical expenses was now going to be given to the Lordís work.
Vahramís depiction of the ugliness and menace of sin was extremely vivid. He was a preacher who could make sin an intimidating enemy. He counterbalanced this with the superlative love and grace of Jesus Christ. Behind his simple sermons there was prayer and at times, fasting. He would fit very well to the description of the Apostle:
ďI know how to be abased, and I know how to abound;
in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing
plenty and hunger, abundance and want.
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.Ē
(Philippians 4:12, 13)
The evangelist was well trained on the doctrine of sin (hamartology) and Godís lament over the condition of the sinner. He would earnestly urge everyone to repent and put his/her faith in Jesus Christ. ďAll this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to GodĒ (II Corinthians 5:18-20). Some even went as far as calling him a modern Jeremiah (9:1). The compassion and tears of the Savior were also a part of him. Those who knew him well and followed his ministry discussed the power and authority behind the messages of this simple person who had had no education or theological training.
As many are aware, there have been glorious revivals in the past when multitudes were ushered into Godís kingdom. The unnoticed revivals stirred by this faithful servant of the Almighty were somewhat reminiscent of many past awakenings. There was a clear declaration of Godís message, persuasion of its verity, and application of the message to the condition of everyone who heard it. He taught believers to come together every Saturday for fasting and prayer. People earnestly and confidently made their requests known to Christ as they knelt before him. The outcome of these sessions translated many requests into divine action. The time element was not important. Sometimes the meetings would last for four or five hours without any sign of hurry. The Holy Spirit was in full cooperation with those who supplicated. Confession, repentance and returning to Christ all were part of these sessions. The apparent unity was not human-generated. A noticeable feature during the prayers was the confession of people who had been criticizing their pastors and now asking forgiveness.
When people repented they were admonished to make restitution and reparation. Old monetary debts were settled and old grievances removed. A man remembering a debt of years before who never bothered about repaying it prayed about this suppressed sin and confessed his subtlety in trying to get out of it. His settling of the old debt stirred a new attitude among other believers toward their various obligations.
One day Vahram was invited to speak to a group of young people. Both he and his interpreter were very tired from the previous nightís meeting. A young man had brought along other fellows and girls to hear the evangelist. As the meeting progressed, Vahramís tiredness vanished. At the end the young people prayed freely on their knees. One of those saved that day became a fervent witness for Christ. He started proclaiming the Good News in trains, buses and in the open air. Parents could not comprehend what had happened to their children. In some cases, entire families came to the Lord. As the flames of the awakening spread, there were those seeking to extinguish it. Vahram reminded Godís people about Satanís zealous preoccupation. He exhorted them to pray in the energy of the Holy Spirit to subdue the dampening attempts of opposition. In referring to Elijahís miracle on Mt. Carmel, he drew a comparison by saying that no amount of water could put out Godís fire sent from heaven to destroy the idolatrous religion of Baal (I Kings 18:32-38).
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