Armenian Bible Church            

Հայ Աստուածաշունչի Եկեղեցի

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

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By Thomas Cosmades


Chapter 8 


             The new thrust led Haralambos to every conceivable place where people gathered. Men from many areas converged in Adana for business or work. During their spare time they would sit in coffee houses, slowly savor pungent coffee or strong tea, play cards or backgammon and discuss a wide variety of subjects. Some would slowly smoke a water-pipe, known as the “hubble-bubble.” Such settings are the ordinary hangouts for men with time on their hands and would have been ideal places for evangelism and colportage work, except for certain restrictions.

            Coffee houses were always points of attraction for Haralambos, particularly those frequented by Armenian men. People of common background usually congregated in the same place. A young Armenian boy was working around the coffee hearth meticulously filling the orders of customers. Each had specific requirements of no, little, or much sugar, heavy or medium, and numerous other variations. Those in the business talk about forty different ways of preparing Turkish coffee.

            A tall, strong-voiced man entered the place, in an instant captivating everyone’s attention. Holding a book in his hand he talked about the Day of Judgment. He invited people to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. All games stopped. Work halted. People nodded their heads in approval. The young boy at the counter stepped forward and listened to the message. Right then and there he met the Savior. No one had anticipated the unusual stranger, whose brief talk broke through the din of conversation and games in the smoked-filled room, creating a different atmosphere. The young boy converted that day later became an evangelist in Iraq.  He later related his conversion experience to Aneta.

            During this time, Haralambos had a vision of a young girl in Osmaniye, Adana, who had recently been converted and needed someone to instruct her. He understood the guidance of the Holy Spirit and traveled to Osmaniye to meet her. After inquiring at the local Armenian Church he located her. He spent several days catechizing the young convert, Sema Gül.

            She was greatly profited and grew to become an ardent follower of Jesus Christ. Throughout the anguishing years of the massacres she held firmly to her faith. Endued with the prophetic gift, her ministry was invaluable in the church. Later, her son Bedros Nasanian became an able evangelist. He worked for his own support as a businessman in Beirut, Lebanon.

            Like Haralambos, Stylianos Ayanoglou was a Greek from Adana, a fellow alumnus of St. Paul’s College in Tarsus. He was a dedicated Christian involved in wide-ranging colportage work for the Bible Society. This man of short stature was a familiar figure around Adana. Everywhere he went he would read poems which he had written in Turkish about God’s Word, after which he would sell large numbers of Bibles and Scripture portions.

            Ayanoglou approached his good friend Haralambos about joining him on a very important venture to sell Bibles in a predominantly Muslim section in Seleucia (Silifke). Haralambos was only too happy to link up with his courageous friend. Against great odds, Stylianos was able to secure official permission to sell Scriptures in this area. The two hired a horse-drawn cart to carry the books. Reuben, the young Armenian cart driver, guided them around the area. Haralambos and Stylianos would sing hymns in public places, after which Stylianos would recite his flowing poems while Haralambos played his violin. They drew large crowds who readily purchased Scriptures and listened to the spoken message. Stylianos having an official colporteur’s certificate in his hand, signed by the local pasha, could carry on without hindrance.

            By the end of the outreach, they had sold nearly every Bible. The time came to pay Reuben his wages and dismiss him, but the young man would not go. He insisted on staying with them, as he wanted to hear more, and to lead them to the other places where he knew people. Haralambos and Stylianos had no choice but to comply. Reuben’s greatest wish was for a large Bible which Stylianos gave him. He was thrilled with his attractively bound Armenian Bible.

            One Sunday morning Reuben knocked at their door. He was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and wanted help. He said he didn’t even know how to pray. On that Lord’s Day morning the two men prayed with him, and he was gloriously saved. He took them home where he told his story. He had been a drunkard, a blasphemer and a wife-beater. Now he was completely transformed. Reuben was left behind as a fervent witness for Jesus Christ.  There were many more stories emanating from the evangelistic efforts of the two friends, but we will forgo the telling of them and move on with our narration.

One note of interest will be that Stylianos and his family moved to Egypt after the war where he became a very effective Bible colporteur, again ministering to Christians and Muslims.