Thomas Cosmades





The year was 1933.  At twenty-four years of age Vahram was called up for military service.  At that time it was possible to obtain a reduced length of service by paying a predetermined amount and serving the shortened term in the city of one's residence.  So he paid 250.84 Turkish liras — a worthless sum today — and served six months in Istanbul.  Right at the outset he was confronted with a dilemma.  In those days the official day off was Friday.  Sunday was an ordinary working day, whereas for Vahram and all Christians it was a day of worship.  Following his conversion Vahram had dedicated Sunday wholly to the Lord.  But now he had to work like everyone else. After earnest prayer he approached the commanding officer and asked if he could have Sundays off.  He told the officer he would be willing to do any kind of work on Fridays, the Muslim day off.  The commanding officer, a humane man, resolved the problem in a sensible way.  He put him into the laundry room on Sundays, where for some reason there was no work on that day, so he was free to worship.   Under this arrangement Vahram completed his military service. A short time later, Ataturk declared Sunday the official day off.  This was what the believers had been praying for and anticipating.

After being discharged from the service, Vahram returned to his job at the Bible Society where he continued until 1937.  Throughout this time a persistent illness caused him great discomfort.  From childhood he had never been in robust health.  He would sometimes have to stay in bed for three or four days.   When people came to visit him he would ask them to lay their hands on him and pray.  This was his method of encouraging believers in their prayer life. Like the Apostle Paul, he would say, "to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated" (II Corinthians 12:7).

Lyman MacCallum, director of the Bible Society, expressed concern to Vahram's close friend, Hovannes Jevherian that in spite of frequent illness Vahram had never presented any medical bills.  "Why doesn't this man go to a doctor?” he asked.  Hovannes related this remark to Vahram, who replied, "Shall I disappoint my Lord?  Having trusted Him once, I must never stop trusting him.”  Mr. MacCallum was highly impressed with his faith and honesty.  He took every opportunity to tell others about Vahram's reliability.

Whenever Vahram felt well enough, he would get up and dress, always putting on a freshly ironed shirt and usually a bow tie.  Then he would dress in a neat suit, put on a hat suitable to the weather and run off to some useful service.  Every time he would have fruit to present to his Lord.  There was no lack of sheaves in his arms!  He bypassed no opportunity — open air markets, shops, hospitals, lawyers' offices, poor homes of new arrivals from Anatolia...   Everywhere he stopped he told people about the love of God and the grace of Jesus Christ, always leading some to the Lord.  There was joy among angels in heaven over what was happening in Istanbul.

Having committed his illness to the Lord, Vahram believed implicitly that healing would come.  Rev.  Haralambos Bostanjoglu[1] who years before had led many to the Lord in Anatolia, had originally taught about 'healing by faith' in these climes.  His book with this title became very popular among Christians in the Middle East.  Through reading it, countless people testified to having been healed.  Vahram's healing was to be an added link in this long chain.  As a child he had experienced a paralysis of unknown origin, and in later years he suffered from excruciating stomach pains.  When they struck, the pain was so agonising that he couldn't speak.  For about twenty years he struggled with these recurring pains.  At first he went to doctors.  One day he went to a top specialist who told him, "We've examined you thoroughly and can find nothing medically wrong with you.  Your healing must be left to Allah!"  From then on he stopped going to doctors.  On one occasion he prayed, "Oh Lord Christ, you have saved me from hell; now graciously grant me healing from this sickness!"  After this he was constantly reading, studying and talking about the healing miracles of Christ.  Often he consulted Bostanjoglu's book, "Healing by Faith".  At last, the Lord granted the long-awaited healing.  One night Christ, without a word, touched Vahram's hand.  When he got up in the morning he was completely healed.  He sensed that fresh strength had come into his body.  This gave him a new song of freedom.

So another dimension was added to his testimony, the healing power of the Lord.  His healing in 1934 reinvigorated his joy in the Lord.  In addition to Christ’s saving his soul, Vahram would always testify to Christ's healing his body: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases" (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17).


  [1] Rev. Bostanjoglu was martyred by hanging in Marash in 1916.


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