Thomas Cosmades





Among those who shone brightly for the Lord was Gregorios Moscho, born in 1868 of Greek parentage.  He graduated from the lyceum fluent in Turkish, Greek and French.  His ambition was to become an architect and to make his own contribution to the beautiful structures of Constantinople. He successfully completed his studies at the Academy of Advanced Architecture and then threw himself into his work with great enthusiasm, drawing up plans for many buildings.  His celebrated skills were much sought after throughout the city.  To this day his name can be seen inscribed on one of the buildings in the district known as Yuksek Kaldirim.

Gregorios was an adherent of the Orthodox faith.  At the turn of the century he started to read the Bible.  With the trained eye of a master architect he made a study of the magnificent temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem.  But God showed him from the same book another temple, Jesus the Savior, the Word made flesh.  Moscho was captivated.  From childhood he had heard much talk of Jesus Christ in the churches.  But he knew nothing about Christ as God's living temple, nothing about Christ as the One who had given His life for Moscho's sins and shed His blood as a ransom — the risen Lord, the everlasting Temple.

A profound peace flooded his soul.  He knelt down just where he was and pleaded with the living Christ in heaven to save his soul, to link him, the designer of attractive buildings to the Master Builder.  What he pleaded for on earth was granted in heaven.  After receiving Christ as his Savior, he continued as an architect for some time.  But Christian witness and prayer were now more important to him than anything else.

In the end, realising that he could not do justice to such a demanding profession while pursuing a call to evangelism, he gave up his employment.  From then on whenever he passed by one of his admired buildings he would stand for a moment, offer a prayer and thank the Lord who had called him from designing earthly buildings to preparing people for eternity.  He would inwardly sing praises that Christ already had a beautiful eternal home ready for him.  "For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10).

Having given up architecture with its ample income Moscho, full of faith, applied himself to the service of the Lord.  At that time, the Bible Society — established in Turkey in 1821 — was looking for a colporteur who knew several languages.  A colporteur is a man who carries Bibles, New Testaments and Scripture portions in a bag.  He visits coffee houses, shops and offices, offering his books for sale wherever he goes.   Such work is not at all easy, and naturally there are few willing to do it.  No one could choose the work for himself; he had to have a special call from God.  Moscho had just such a calling.  In 1900, at the age of thirty-two, he became a Bible Society colporteur.  People could not understand how he could abandon a promising and profitable career in architecture at such a young age to tramp the streets selling Bibles.  "The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself judged by no one" (II Corinthians 2:15).

Brother Moscho, as he came to be known among believers, began to sell Bibles in various languages and to introduce people to the matchless salvation of Christ.  Especially to Muslims did he declare God's love, grace and forgiveness, and he was constantly interceding for them.  Before and after World War I many Muslims had opportunity to consider the Gospel Moscho had offered to them.  He witnessed to people in their own languages.  Those with an open mind took special delight in listening to him because he communicated spiritual truths as an educated person.

A few years after Moscho's death, a venerable, elderly Turk visited the Bible House Immanuel Church in Istanbul.  To those who welcomed him he said, "I heard the Gospel years ago from Moscho.  Is that saintly man still alive?  I've come from my native city of Trabzon and have to return home by today's boat.  But I was just longing to see him again."  This man appeared to be a believer in Christ.  Who knows how many others had heard the Good News from Moscho and trusted in Christ for eternal life? It was Moscho's conviction that a faithful witness should explain Christ's glorious redemption to everyone he met.

He never married, but he had a special interest in children.  He was tenderly concerned to lead them to Christ.  One of Moscho's excellent qualities was his careful avoidance of all gossip and backbiting.  He could never be drawn into a conversation that was damaging to another person's good name.  He loved and respected everyone. He was never known to adopt an antagonistic attitude towards anybody.  It seemed to be a settled principle with him not to speak about other people but only about Jesus Christ.

God abundantly blessed this man's ministry.  Some thought it strange for him to give up a brilliant career in architecture, but when God confirmed his master-plan for Moscho, he willingly gave himself to encourage believers and to preach the Gospel to the unconverted.  The fact that he was a well-read thinker was beneficial to him in the writing of many books.   Other than the Bible, no spiritual literature in Turkish was available, so he wrote books to train believers in their faith.  Of these, his book entitled "Emmanuel" (God with Us) is recognised as a theological book.

Moscho was known for his practice of fasting and prayer.  He would eat only once a day.  He lived in a very simple house in Uskudar[1].  In the summer months he would retreat to the woods at Kuzguncuk[2], carrying his coat and would spend the whole night in prayer.  The most delightful hours of his life were those spent alone with God.  People could not understand it; but his Lord knew him and he knew his Lord.  He lived according to the principle, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).  He always reminded believers of the importance of God's glorious provision of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Apart from this no union with God could be conceived of.  He would say, "The believer must always live in the light of this truth, clothed in holiness, waiting for the glorious coming of Christ."

An anecdote, widely circulated among Moscho's acquaintances, illustrates well his dedication to prayer.  A housewife once asked him how he, a bachelor, managed to find time to cook in the midst of all his endeavors.  Coolly he said, "My God who sent ravens to feed Elijah does not leave me hungry.  Yesterday," he continued, "I decided to boil some fruit.  I put it on to cook, but I burnt it."  The housewife in great astonishment exclaimed, "Brother Moscho!  That's the first time I have ever heard of compote losing all its juice and burning on the stove.  How ever did it burn?" Moscho's calm reply was, "If you had something more important to do than stewing fruit, maybe even you could burn it."

After the founding of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk brought out the ‘Surname Act.’  Everyone was required to choose a surname and have it entered on the national register.  This law applied mainly to ethnic Turks who were generally known by their father's name.  Members of the non-Muslim minorities did not need to choose a surname because they already had one, for example, Gregorios Moscho.  When the law was announced, Brother Moscho, identity card in hand, hurried along to the registration office.  Short in stature, hunchbacked, his round bearded face commanding respect, he stationed himself before the official.  "What do you want, sir?" "Young man, I've come to take a surname."  "But you already have a surname!"  "That doesn't matter.  I want to take a new one."  "Well, let's see.  What name have you chosen?"  "Bekleyen" (the Turkish word for 'waiting one').  "Who are you waiting for?"  "I'm waiting for Jesus Christ who is going to come from heaven."  Everyone in the registration office pricked up their ears when they heard the strange request.  They listened to this 'waiting' brother with curiosity to find out how this 'coming' of the awaited one would happen.  From that day on, his newly registered name, Gregorios Moscho Bekleyen, proved to be an effective starting-point for a witness about Jesus Christ to people he met.  In 1924, Ataturk was issuing one reform after another.  At the declaration of the Republic, the week day off was Friday as in all Muslim countries.  So Moscho started praying, "Oh Lord, may Friday be changed to Sunday!" A few short years passed and Moscho's faith-filled prayer materialised.  Ataturk signed into law that Sunday was to be the day off.

In 1929, after twenty-nine years of service as Bible colporteur, Moscho Bekleyen resigned from the Bible Society to devote himself to prayer, visiting people in their homes and to writing.  This saintly man fasted and prayed throughout the years.  After the example of aged Simeon in the New Testament (Luke 2:25-35), he was waiting for the Holy Spirit to establish God's spiritual building in Istanbul.  And he saw the fruit of his prayers, one of which was Vahram Tatikian.  Moscho continued an active witness for Christ until the Lord called him to heaven in 1942.  Writing, reading, fasting, praying, and worshipping the living God, he left as a monument a life of ministry, passing into eternity fully assured that His glorious Lord was waiting for him.


  [1] Section of Istanbul on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus

  [2] As above

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