WILL SHINE LIKE THE STARS FOREVER
MINISTRY IN CHILE AND RETURN TO THE EAST
For a long time Vahram had been praying that God would open the way for him to go to Chile. This longest country of the world, about 2,650 miles from north to south and 225 miles wide from the farthest east to the ocean, was the last country on his agenda. Approximately five hundred Armenians were living in Santiago, the capital, not a high figure by any estimation, nevertheless an incredibly wealthy community. Many millionaires were among them. But spiritually they were bankrupt. He passionately wanted to reach them for Jesus Christ. Finally the door was open before him. While he was amazed at the beauty of the land his thoughts were consumed for the lost people who lived without purpose for life or consideration of eternity's values. Immediately upon reaching Chile Vahram began visiting his fellow Armenians, first in their places of business and then in their homes. They were living in the lap of luxury, but were in spiritual poverty. When Vahram started telling them about the reality of sin and the necessity of forgiveness to have peace with God and entry into heaven, some turned to Jesus Christ. Earthly riches gave way to heavenly wealth.
During his visit, Santiago was celebrating an important occasion. The various churches of the city decided to have a children's parade with the emphasis on God and eternity. They prepared an impressive float which captivated onlookers' attention. Children preceding the float were carrying placards, one of which read: "We beseech you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, repent of your sins! Turn from the way that leads to hell!" Vahram marched ahead playing his accordion while children in their colourful little outfits followed behind. He considered this effort a New Testament mandate. He was more ready to join such outreaches than to accept invitations to preach in churches. As in every city, he evangelized in marketplaces, hospitals, prisons, schools, homes and wherever else he could gain a foothold. He considered these places as the multi-faceted world arena where real life was being played out. All sorts of human quandaries were brought before him to deal with. This was the world to which Christ came. Such was the field of the mighty Old Testament prophets and the kind of service to which the apostles of the New Testament were sent. For Vahram, these places were the real battleground where his faith was put to the test. “Whoever reaches out to this real world always wins,” Vahram said, adding with conviction, "The church must flow out to the world."
As an evangelist constantly in prayer, always on the move and daily encountering new dilemmas he sought to deal with each situation pragmatically. Vahram made the most of the latter stages of his ministry in this great land, never flagging in zeal, but making the most of every opportunity to tell yet another person of his need for Christ. His whole-hearted labours in so many lands in South America and the rewards accrued in each place verified that God had truly led him all the way. When contemplating this he would shout 'Hallelujah!' to the Holy Spirit for his flawless guidance.
On December 8, 1964, he returned to Montevideo. Satan was employing the same tactics here as he had in Istanbul years before. Because of the phenomenal success of Vahram’s Spirit-filled ministry some of the leaders became jealous of him. This reaction didn’t come as a surprise to Vahram, but because he was only human it did somewhat shake him. All of a sudden, the Armenian evangelical churches closed their doors to him as had happened in Istanbul. Sensing the disgruntlement, he had been expecting a disagreeable development. He could have said with the Apostle Paul, "We are not ignorant of Satan's designs" (II Corinthians 2:11). Throughout the years his ministry had stirred calculated attack from various quarters. What Satan couldn't achieve against Christ's servant by outside adversaries, he sought to effect through people within the church.
God's mature servant, Vahram, could not resort to carnal retaliation. He waited on his heavenly Father in prayer, asking for other opportunities, and truly, this is exactly what happened. God encouraged him through the words of a sister: "I don't feel at all sorry for what has happened. Human resistance cannot negate divine effectiveness. When one door is closed, He will open another door before you." So, what happened in the end? The Armenian Gregorian churches enthusiastically invited Vahram for ministry in their community! Along with this, invitations from Spanish-speaking churches began flowing in. The ministry among the young people he loved so much reached a new apex. Vahram jubilantly exalted, "Oh my Lord, hallelujah! You have never forgotten or forsaken my ministry or me. How great is your faithfulness!" Recollections from the past, both bitter and pleasant, flashed on the screen of his memory.
In a certain town he visited a church where attendance was down to a mere eight people. Following earnest prayer and determined preaching, something fabulous happened in this church. The gist of his message was, “Confess your sins openly and repent. Turn to Christ in seriousness of heart and mind. Pray in faith. Pay attention to young people. Spread the Good News with earnestness." Within two months the attendance had increased to 150. Young people now regularly attending the meetings became a vital element in the church. After one service Vahram met a young Armenian fellow who had come from Athens, Greece. He had run away from home and landed in South America. He was quickly squandering the money in his pocket on reckless living. Vahram talked to him tenderly like a loving father and invited him to repent and receive Christ as his Savior. This he did, then and there with great joy and delight! He started running everywhere, witnessing for Jesus Christ. He openly declared that he had received forgiveness from God. Vahram must have shouted many hallelujahs in celebration of that victory.
In a certain family of six, the man alone was a believer. His wife, son and three daughters had no interest in the things of God. The man was constantly fasting and praying. On a particular day while he was fasting, he managed to bring his whole family to the meeting. He was expecting in faith that God would do something. That day Vahram preached with special anointing and authority. And indeed, along with others, his whole family was converted to Christ that evening! Undoubtedly Vahram raised another ‘hallelujah.’ So it was, wherever God led his humble servant, some door opened which allowed him to carry on his ministry effectively. As the Apostle Paul would have confidently said, “We are God's fellow workers" (I Corinthians 3:9).
A distinctive feature of those years in South America was the staging of one military coup after the other. Under the threat of being toppled, no government felt secure. Putsches had become a regular event. The evangelist would explain that the universal sovereign Lord was going to come from heaven and establish his righteous reign, which would never be toppled (Revelation 11:15). Vahram was a simple Christian in a complicated world. It was incomprehensible to him that God should be incapable of resolving any human problem. He emphasised the authoritative declaration of the prophet Daniel:
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).
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