SUFFER AND DIE
preaching at sixteen immediately following his conversion to Jesus Christ.
The sixteen years of his ministry were rewarding but also stormy and at
times controversial. Today he would have been described as a person with
charisma. Since his time two generations have come and gone. Many
grandchildren of people who knew Haralambos regard him with awe and wonder.
To this day, his books are being circulated in circles of similar
background. There were certain extravagances in his books and preaching. An
admirer of Haralambos remarked that these were accidental faults which might
have been rectified had he lived longer.
His motto was, “Not
only to suffer, but to die for Christ.” His late wife Aneta pointed to the
following text as his life experience:
O LORD, you
deceived me, and
me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed
all day long;
everyone mocks me.
speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of
the LORD has brought me
and reproach all day long.
But if I
say, “I will not mention him,
speak any more in his name,”
his word is
in my heart like a fire,
shut up in my bones.
I am weary
of holding it in;
Indeed, I cannot.
I hear many
“Terror is on every side!
Let’s report him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
will be deceived;
will prevail over him
our revenge on him.”
‘ But the LORD is
with me likely a mighty warrior;
persecutors will stumble
and not prevail.
They will fail
and be thoroughly disgraced;
will never be forgotten.
him whenever they found the opportunity. He even became a topic of mockery
from boys in the market place. Some went as far as naming their donkeys and
dogs ‘Haralambos’ to express their derision. In the Middle Eastern milieu
these two animals are held in low esteem. He never retaliated, but composed
himself as a poised dedicated minister. The chain of insults was a precursor
of the devastating storm which lay ahead. He could not be intimidated. No
one could prevent him from speaking what he believed to be right. As already
quoted from Jeremiah’s experience, God’s message was like a fire in his
bones. His faith and dedication to Christ meant everything to him.
At his death,
adversaries were silenced while admirers turned to his several books, each
of which was a bold account of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. His books
were read for several decades, printed and reprinted, circulated and
serialized in a number of countries, especially among Armenian people.
His first book was
that highly controversial one, ‘Christ’s Second Coming.’ His next writing
was on ‘Healing by Faith,’ where he dealt with this quite sensitive matter
at the time. Among the missionaries in Turkey this line was not preached.
His position was more-or-less like that of A.B. Simpson, founder of the
Christian & Missionary Alliance. His next book was on the Holy Spirit;
‘Bearing the Cross’ was his final book where he characterized the four
corners of the Cross as the cross of persecution, the cross of self-denial,
the cross of separation from the world and the cross of travail for lost
lives. This book was translated into English and Greek. Two smaller books,
one on Heaven and the other on Hell, were books used for study in Armenian
churches. He was a gifted hymn writer, putting down the words and composing
the music. Hymns he had prepared over the years which were ready for
publication were confiscated in the police raid at his home on the day of
his arrest. They were never seen again.
Many giants of the faith lived
and died in Anatolia throughout the centuries, each one making his
particular contribution in his own time. Haralambos’ ministry left an impact
on his generation at a very crucial period of Anatolian history. “He was
an eloquent man, well versed in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24).
When the news of
Haralambos’ execution in Marash reached her, Aneta was crushed. Since the
day the couple had been torn apart in Aintab, her ordeal was almost
unbearable. But when the Lord touched her in the midst of her debilitating
crisis, she sensed his extraordinary sustenance. He enabled her to carry on.
Even after Haralambos had been marched in chains to Marash she entertained a
dim hope in her soul that somehow a message would be coming from her beloved
husband. Friends warned her against building hopes that would never
materialize. People around her knew very well that the walk to Marash was
the march of death.
A week after the
execution a little leather pouch reached her. In it was hidden a four-page
letter. It had passed through several hands before it safely arrived. Till
the day of her death, Aneta never knew whose hands carried the pouch from
Marash to Aintab and how it was safely delivered to her. She was always
thankful to her heavenly Father that this balm to her wounded heart had not
gone astray. Hardly anyone could read the message. It was written in
Turkish with Greek characters. The Ottomans used Arabic script, the
Armenians their own characters, and the Greeks the Greek script, all to
express themselves in the same language!
He was relating his
deep gratitude to the Lord for Aneta’s standing with him so faithfully
throughout the trying sequence of events. Aneta shared with the writer of
this book one part of the letter, written November 27, 1916, from the prison
“My pearl Aneta,
“Another night has
gone and nothing happened. One of these days I will be executed. I desired
to live long and preach the glorious Gospel of Christ in other places. I
may die at the age of thirty-two, but the Word of God is not bound. The
Lord will raise up many workers for his harvest. You are one of them, being
my other half. Do not say, ‘I am but a weak woman; what can I do?’ The
Lord can use you as an empty vessel for his glory; keep in mind II Timothy
2:15. Adorn yourself with God’s Word and all the useful knowledge which
enriches the soul. According to the Word of God, let ‘Freely you have
received; freely give,’ be your motto. Work with your hands for your
“I do not want you
to continue living in Turkey. Go to England or America. Wherever you go,
have fervent love for all believers. On the other hand, flee from modernism
as you would from a deadly snake. How great and gracious is our heavenly
Father! Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call I will answer, while they are
yet speaking I will hear,” was fulfilled at my arrival to the prison in
Marash. Even before I could settle myself in the cell, someone by the name
of Katerina was searching for me. God bless and reward her.
“Love to my mother
— her labors for me are beyond measure. I was well pleased in everything
about you. I will be waiting for you up yonder. Farewell, my beloved,
Like Paul from his prison cell,
Haralambos’ main concern was to encourage her in the walk of faith. There
was a note of deep disappointment for not being able to exalt Christ through
to the end of a normal life span. To be cut off from a well-appreciated
service at age thirty-two deeply wounded his heart.
Yet he was filled
with a sense of confidence in the Lord that He would raise others to carry
on. Haralambos was assuring Aneta that she was one of those workers.
Therefore, he strongly urged her to study and avail herself of every
opportunity to become more useful in Christ’s service. This encouragement
from the prison cell was a God-provided seal of Aneta’s call to serve the
Lord for the rest of her life. Following personal and spiritual
matters, he went on to relate his horrendous trials. He told of the three
days’ march while being laden down with heavy chains hanging over his
shoulders. It was a trial that killed him several times. From the moment he
and the rest of the prisoners arrived in Marash he was aware of his
impending doom. He had an appointment with death for which be braced himself
so he could meet it as a true soldier of Jesus Christ. In the Turkish Bible
with Arabic characters that Katerina had brought him his last days in
prison, he had made a note in the margin of John 17:1, “…Father
the hour has come…” She retrieved the Bible after his death.
The letter was his
last farewell. Every line was heart-rending. Throughout the letter,
Haralambos was showering words of encouragement on Aneta to continue serving
the Lord. Her resolve had already been made a while before and she was
going forward. This letter became her most sacred treasure. She kept it with
her until August 1970, when her eyesight became so weak that she tore it up.
She couldn’t bear to have this, her most valuable possession, pass on to
As the children of
Israel carried the bones of Joseph in the wilderness for the duration of
forty years, she cherished Haralambos’ message and carried it with her for
fifty-four years. The Jews were prevented from returning to Egypt as long as
Joseph’s bones had a definite destination. Similarly, with her sacred
possession she was enabled to look forward although there was still a
sentimental recollection of past events.
letter was another traumatic experience in the long chain of deep sorrows;
it was like burying him anew. But as her earthly pilgrimage approached its
end, her thoughts were occupied with the joyful expectation of meeting her
resplendent Lord and her beloved Haralambos.