Anatolia has been the main thoroughfare between Europe and Asia. Conquerors
down through the ages crossed this territory with an appetite for new
lands. The late Arnold J. Toynbee related that there were some eighteen
civilizations which flourished in Asia Minor.
Looking back at
history great persons lived and passed through the land: Homer, Cyrus,
Alexander, Constantine, the Apostle Paul and others. No one can overlook
the Christian influence in Anatolia. It started with the ministry of Paul
the Apostle and went on until the demise of the Byzantine Empire. But it did
not stop there; it also thrived especially in the latter part of the Ottoman
reign. During those seven centuries there were Christians who carried on in
the tradition of Paul until they ended their ministry with a swan song.
Some in the tradition of Polycarp sang in the pool of their own blood;
others went on to continue declaring the uniqueness of Christ elsewhere.
million Christians lost their homeland and many their lives during World War
I and afterwards. A wide-scale evangelistic endeavor had begun with the
entrance of foreign missionaries in 1821. In the ensuing years the message
of Christ saturated Asia Minor. At the start of World War I in 1914, the
proclamation of the Good News was continuing favorably. The phenomenal
advances of the Holy Spirit at that time remain largely unknown to most
people. These endeavors were grievously terminated in the almost total
eclipse of Christianity in Anatolia. They constitute a series of spiritual
accomplishments amid heart-rending reversals.
Some of them are
bathed in sublime joy and others drenched in human blood. This remarkable
account of Haralambos Bostanjoglou is only one in the series of brilliant
achievements in Asia Minor prior to the blotting out of the Christian faith.
The reader will observe unswerving gallantry against an unrelenting
adversary, fascinating reception and appalling rejection, a desperate
community and a despondent outcome. It is a story that is still fresh after
A total generation
which bade farewell to their Anatolian homeland has left us, and their
children are fast following them. So many valuable events have gone
unrecorded. It would be a disservice to the generation which endured such
unimaginable agonies not to record this saga. Today’s Turkey cannot bear to
see the dissemination of the Gospel message in the country. Nevertheless,
the work goes on in the tradition of faithful men and women, even in the
face of martyrdom.
Many happenings in
this book will seem strange to the reader not familiar with Middle Eastern
culture and lifestyle. However, these ought to be viewed in their own
particular ambience and not with any western setting in mind.
whose given name means ‘Light of Joy,’ was cut off at the age of thirty-two,
all the while singing praises of exultation to the Savior. Aneta, his
widow, continued to articulate the uncompleted song. We are indebted to her
remembrances as well as to the memories of others who knew Haralambos. She
rendered an invaluable contribution by relating a few of the triumphant
episodes and the distressing sequel of events in the unrecorded
evangelism-oriented history of Anatolia.
Haralambos was a
hero of the Faith, more concerned for his belief and convictions than for
his life. He set a noble example of where commitment to Christ could carry
a person of resolve. His story is more extensive than what this brief
biography can cover. His life as a traveling evangelist in the cities and
towns of Anatolia and his powerful preaching challenged many people even
after he departed. His immovable stance alienated him from the bulk of
Protestant leaders. The man was frequently carried to extremes in his
position which made him a subject of controversy. Many Christians, however,
embraced him as a spiritual father. Some were so dedicated to his Biblical
position that they started a group known as “Haralamboschular” (Those who
belong to Haralambos). He was also a prolific hymn writer, but how
regretful that all his songs ready for printing were confiscated by the
police at the time of his arrest! He is now singing a new song with
Christ’s triumphant Church.