Cappadocia is a
well-known province of Asia Minor known to students of history and readers
of the New Testament (cf. Acts 2:1; I Peter 1:1). The main city of
Cappadocia was Caesarea Mazaca (Kayseri), administrative seat of the
illustrious province and one the most important bishoprics of Asia Minor.
This is the city from where renowned church fathers emanated, such as Basil
the Great, Gregory of Naziansus, Gregory of Nyssa, Eusebius Pamphili (church
historian) and several lesser luminaries.
Mt. Argaeus (Erciyesh),
approximately 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) lifts its serene, majestic peak
nearby. This loftiest mountain in central Anatolia, perpetually snow-capped,
has always attracted the admiration of the Cappadocians and numerous
travelers through the region. To the north of Mt. Argaeus on
ravishing elevated terraces lies the city of Mutalasi (Talas), which
overlooks Caesarea. Talas was an important Christian center for several
centuries. Near this city, below Mt. Argaeus, is the quiet town of Zinjidere,
known in history as Flavianus, home of several churches and ancient
Zinjidere had the
reputation of being a ‘corner of Switzerland’ transplanted in Cappadocia.
The town of five hundred homes resembled a picturesque Swiss Alpine village
with chalets and villas. It served as a resort area for Caesarea.
Caesarea Mazaca had
already ceased being a bishopric. The Greek bishop had moved to Zinjidere,
making it the focal point of wide Christian activity. A Greek theological
seminary was the center of training for priests who upon graduation were
commissioned to serve in near and distant parishes in Asia Minor. There was
also a commercial school, boys’ and girls’ gymnasiums, two Orthodox
orphanages and an Evangelical orphanage for boys.
This was home of
Andreas and Eleni Serafimides, Aneta’s parents, and their six children. The
parents had been converted to the Evangelical faith. Andreas had grasped the
meaning and application of his faith so well that he came to be known in his
town as St. Andrew.
In pursuit of
acquiring a good skill he took a long and costly journey to Paris where he
was trained to be, of all things, a hat-maker! Following his return he
engaged in business. His various ventures sometimes took him to remote
places such as Batum in the Caucasus on the Black Sea and Athens in Greece.
His heart was constantly on spiritual matters however and on the type of
business which had lasting value. Finally he gave up his work, and
eventually joined the British & Foreign Bible Society. He was sent as a
colporteur to Patras, Greece, where he continued his missionary service
until his death in 1921.
training began in the Greek Evangelical School in Zinjidere. After
graduation, the American Girls’ School in nearby Talas attracted her. This
was one of the many schools in Anatolia founded and operated by the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, whose illustrious entry into
Asia Minor in 1821 is an epoch in modern church missions. This first
American mission society had its beginnings at the Haystack Prayer Meeting
at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1806, when five young
men took refuge under the shelter of a haystack during a thunderstorm to
continue their earnest prayer. While lightning flashed and thunder
reverberated, they made their resolution to take the Gospel to the dark
corners of the earth.