‘Experts in the Art of Dying’ –  Christ-like Conduct During the Armenian Genocide   

I have just read an article about this in the Barnabas Fund Magazine. They reproduced some experiences recorded shortly after this awful happening. These were put together by Sisag Manoogian in 2014, under the title above. Persons, driven from their homes, knew that survival was impossible behaved in a Christ-like way, praying for and loving their tormentors. Many of the stories – there must be thousands more – were from the memories of Turkish Muslims, some of whom doubtless turned to the Lord as a result of the conduct of these poor people.

Christians are still suffering for the Name, even in Britain, let alone the Middle East, Africa and North Korea.

armenia 1I am writing this on the day that Armenia is marking on the 100th anniversary of the terrible persecution, massacre and genocide of the Christian Armenians at the hands of the Moslem Turks. Not that the persecution was necessarily because they were Christians, but the way in which this benighted people behaved in the face of such atrocities was Christian, and a model for us all.

I have just read an article about this in the Barnabas Fund Magazine. They reproduced some experiences recorded shortly after this awful happening. These were put together by Sisag Manoogian in 2014, under the title above. Persons, driven from their homes, knew that survival was impossible behaved in a Christ-like way, praying for and loving their tormentors. Many of the stories – there must be thousands more – were from the memories of Turkish Muslims, some of whom doubtless turned to the Lord as a result of the conduct of these poor people.

Christians are still suffering for the Name, even in Britain, let alone the Middle East, Africa and North Korea.

 

One is reminded of the letter to Smyrna.

8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;9I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev 2:8-11)

Here are some extracts:

 

      • Some ferocious gendarmes marveled when seeing men and women, even children, instead of trembling in the presence of death, show calm and dignity, and instead of cursing, pray for the forgiveness of their murderers. In their defenselessness they tried to defend the weaker ones: in their hunger they shared their last piece of bread with the poorest.

 

      • The pastor of the Syrian church in Ourfa saw thousands of women and children, who were exhausted with the journey, and so had to spend one night on the ground there, and march on next morning. He said nearly all were hungry, thirsty, and literally naked. Some of them found pieces of charcoal and wrote on the rocks, ‘As Jesus did not deny us, do not deny Him: We have not denied Him, follow us’.

 

      • These women were asked to repeat a short sentence after the Turkish teacher, or lift up their testimonial finger to show that they were willing to accept Islam, which meant they could stay free in their homes, but they refused, choosing rather to suffer and die in the desert.

 

      • The Armenians gave up everything precious, but clung to their Bibles. They thanked God first before they drank water after five days‘ hot journey in the desert without anything to quench their thirst. Innocent victims showed wonderful peace and offered earnest prayers for the salvation of Turks and Turkey, before the rope was around their necks to hang them.

 

      • On one occasion Elmas saw a line of Armenian children being systematically beheaded by Turkish soldiers. Terrible thunder and lightning broke out, which the Turks relished as showing the approval of Allah for the killing of the Christian children. But when a bolt of lightning killed some of those doing the beheading, the rest of the soldiers were terrified, stopped the beheadings, and sent the remaining children away.

 

      • The Turkish authorities rounded up the elderly, the women and the children, and told them they were going to walk to Der El-Zor, near Aleppo, where they could settle and live. All of them, even the pregnant women, were forced along the route in the heat of the summer of 1915. Eventually they realised that their promised destination was an empty desert region, with no settlements, no food and no water.

 

      • The Armenian men were told by their captors, ‘Convert to Islam and you will be safe.’ The Armenians shouted, ‘We are Christians!’ In response the Turkish soldiers doused the church building [where the men were imprisoned] with flammable liquid and set it on fire.

24 April 2015

J N Darby – French Letter No. 152 – The Positive Results of Persecution

JohnNelsonDarby152

England – 23rd September 1846

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

I hasten to answer your good letter, especially since I see a little spiritual discouragement there. As for the translation[1], I had pursued it in all simplicity, to add what I could for the common good, even if the specialities of epistles demanded more positive gifts as to co-operation. The answer says nothing about what I asked for in this respect. I shall do the will of the Lord, thereupon as much as I shall be able. What had given rise to my question was that there are particular difficulties because the spirit of the French language does not answer much to Greek abstractions. If it was refused to face up to this difficulty, by acknowledging the bearing of this circumstance, I would have been a bit disheartened in this attempt; the work would have been useless, because, for the idiom of the French language, it is obvious that I must depend in some measure on other people. In the end, I left the thing there without adding anything.

As for the dangers about which you speak, they are possible, but the One who has kept his people before grape harvests, will keep them afterwards. He does not change. The enemy can roar and grind his teeth, but the hair of the head of each of the faithful is counted. I fear rest just as much as persecution for the dear and precious children of God, though I bless God when He grants us this rest. Only let us know how to walk in the fear of God, and it will be in the consolation of His Spirit. It is very natural that the respite, after the tension of persecution, brings a little of spiritual slackening and that the enemy should seek to profit from it, but, by seeking His face, His grace will be enough for us; His power will be perfected in our weakness. It is for each of us to be held near the Lord, not for themselves only, but being there by grace for others. A man of faith often disconcerts (by grace) the enemy in an astonishing way. It is what God desires. He intervenes and He is acknowledged. However hidden it is, the instrument will not lose its reward. It is the hidden work which is the most beautiful, most near God and His heart, most entirely for Him, and He will acknowledge it as such in the day when He will manifest what He will have given and approved.

As for the assemblies, dear brother, apart from what I have just said, it is necessary to trust to the Lord and to seek much to cultivate a true spirit of love, of brotherly affections flowing from the charity which takes nothing into account, so that God is glorified in His own. As for your difficulties which you feel on the subject of your prayers, it is a serious and hard thing, I admit, but God’s grace is not lacking to you. I do not doubt, beloved brother, that the flesh is the reason, negligence, false confidence, the lack of smallness and of poverty of spirit. Alas! I only know it too well. However, there is something to say here. The Lord makes us feel our dependence in the thing which is the easiest to us, in which we prove a certain satisfaction, in which the flesh does not fail to find its worth. I do not say that this incapacity happens to us without there being some fault, some spiritual negligence, for the flesh that takes pleasure in it cannot be active in the presence of God, and does not seek it. Thus, we relax inwardly; there is not the same intensity, the same need; the presence of God is no longer as before the source of joy for us; it does not feel needed in the same way. Our love towards the church is the love of God towards the church, and it is the only object in God’s view according to the love of which He is the source. It no longer carries the same character in our opinion; the motive of prayer lacks in the measure in which the link with the source is weakened. – but at the same time, dear brother, all this makes us make the discovery of the flesh in us, and we understand thereby even more profoundly that everything is grace. In the state about which I speak, having no consciousness of the love of Jesus for the church, we see more easily His sorrows, and these sorrows in a more painful way, less as objects of His solicitude, the more as hard things for us, and, having no trust which inspires His love, we are discouraged by it.

You have spoken of quite an important subject, responsibility and its relationship with grace. I believe that one can very well insist on devotion in a spirit of grace. I desire that you should abound in this grace also, as the fruit of love in us. It is thus that one is encouraged in these things. Devotion is not produced in blaming weakness in devotion, for it is the fruit of grace. Devotion which flows [from this blame] is only an imitation, a bad basis. In reading the epistles, you will easily find this distinction. Besides, if God gives it to me, I will tell you a word on the link between responsibility and grace, or rather between grace and responsibility. Room fails me to do it here.

Whatever it be, beloved brother, draw near to the Lord, our infinitely precious and faithful Head. The grace which is in Him suits all our circumstances, all our states of soul. It is the remedy and more than this, for our sorrows are only the occasion of knowing its fulness and perfection. “I have seen the affliction of my people”[2]; there were indeed other things to see. For the rest, God is faithful. Faith acts individually, although it produces common effects, while there is a common faith to which God answers. It is to Him that I commit you, beloved brother.

I believe that “the end of the Lord” in James 5: 11 signifies the end in contrast with the way. For us, the way is patience, but the end which is in the Lord’s hands is always mercy, as is seen in Job.

Your affectionate brother

[1] Notes for the Version of Lausanne

[2] Exod 3: 7

Let us cry to God for those whose Lives are in Danger 

Aasia Bibi’s appeal against death sentence rejected’.

asia_bibi_a_4X3The headline on an email I received this week says ‘Aasia Bibi’s appeal against death sentence rejected’.  This young mother has been languishing in prison since being falsely accused by some of her co-workers of defiling the name of Mohammed.  The government of Pakistan could well bow to international pressure in such a high profile case.  But how many others are there? – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, North Korea knowing the literality of the verse, ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’.  (Rev 2:10).

We may not know them, but they are our brethren.

May we, like they, be kept close to the Lord.