Armenian Bible Church            

Հայ Աստուածաշունչի Եկեղեցի

Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 40322  Pasadena, CA 91114 USA

Home Who We Are Food Corner Events Statement of Faith Contact, Feedback


By Thomas Cosmades


Chapter 17


            Church services continued for only six more weeks. In the meantime, people were being steadily deported. Nevertheless, a good number were still attending. On Sunday mornings Aneta read her husband’s pastoral letters sent through a young boy from the prison. The church remained open until all places of worship in Aintab were closed by governmental decree.

            Their lively Christian center was suddenly left spiritless. “The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege” (Isaiah 1:8). Who could have thought that this would be the heart-breaking end of Aintab?

            The deportation was irreversible. Once the person or family was singled out, there was nothing that could reverse the vicious verdict. Every Christian resident lived in the fear that sooner or later his turn would come. The population was being decimated by the day. Most neighbors were gone. “How deserted lies the city once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great...  She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave” (Lamentations 1:1).

            Aneta and Anastasia realized it was no longer safe to live in their neighborhood, so they moved out to a place considered somewhat less dangerous. An air of profound anguish forebodingly hung over the city. At night, owls hooted from church belfries, sounding the echo of agony and death. The women’s plight was not an isolated case, but of different nature because they were in a city not their own.

            They had come here for a special mission.  Aneta’s husband was not deported, but was languishing in the dank city prison facing a dark future. The scourge was thorough in Aintab; there was no element of mercy accompanying its execution.  This disaster was not isolated to Aintab, however, but was being carried out in city after city, town after town, all across Anatolia.  The Minister of the Interior, Talat, had complete authorization from the party, ‘Union and Progress,’ to carry out the orders of total extermination. For the government of the day, there was an ‘Armenian Problem’ which had to be solved immediately.  They were a thorn in the flesh that had to be eliminated.  The Ottomans were fighting alongside the Germans whose interest was not to defend the rights of the Christian Armenians.  England and France were fighting against the Ottomans, but were in no position to stop the massacre.  It was only the United States ambassador Henry Morgenthau in Constantinople who was constantly making representation to the Porte through Talat to halt this notorious genocide.  Talat was acting very politically, constantly trying to gain time in order to finish his dirty work.    

            At this hour of darkness the adversary was working overtime. Tears of mothers, wives, grandmothers, children, sons and daughters ran like rivers, while blood coursed in torrents. The land watered with endless tears through the centuries was again the scene of unending tribulation surpassing the most painful of ancient Greek tragedies. The actors were from real life — both tormenters and tormented. As in the Greek tragedies, God was real, demonstrating anew the mystery of suffering, although at the time not understood by the sufferers.

            As Samuel Rutherford said, “A piece of suffering is carved into every one of us, less or more as Infinite Wisdom has thought good. Our part is to harden and habituate our soft and thin-skinned nature to endure fire and water, devils, lions, men, losses, grieved hearts, as those that are looked upon by God, angels, men and devils.” The tormentors’ wrath was unbridled. They were totally impervious to any sense of pity.         These thoughts occupied Aneta’s mind as the tragedy was being enacted before her eyes day after day. While men and women and their families all wept and agonized, the determined will of atrocity was running its course. Indescribable pathos was etched in the faces of those still hanging onto life. There was no visible help or comfort for the vast numbers of these tormented people. Only the bright Kingdom of Christ would bring to a final end the loathsome execution of genocide.

            Many of the deported were departing with hymns and praises on their lips such as, “Nearer my God to Thee, Nearer to Thee!” The gendarmes were asking, “Are these people going to a wedding celebration, that they are so joyful?” As adherents of an entirely different religion and mindset, they couldn’t account for the victorious conduct of these martyrs. During this ordeal many who hadn’t had the assurance of eternal life experienced a glorious encounter with their suffering Savior.  The deportees’ transition from earth to heaven during those days of severe testing was an entirely different picture than that of people who die an ordinary death.