I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times what is still to come,
I say, “My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.”
(Isaiah 46:10 NIV)
Back in the 1850’s, the Spirit of the Lord was moving in power in parts of the Russian Orthodox Church. Some of those who were touched went down to Armenia to share their blessings. Amongst these was a typically “respectable” Presbyterian, Mr Shakarian, who, after overcoming considerable scruples, was eventually filled with the Holy Spirit.
Some years later, in 1855, God directed the Shakarian’s son, Efim, (who was eleven at the time) to pray and fast for a week. During that time the Lord gave Efim a vision of charts and maps. Although he was illiterate himself, the Lord showed him a message in beautiful handwriting, along with a stark warning that the Ottoman Turks were going to massacre the Christians in Armenia unless they went across the ocean to the country marked on the charts – America.*
Many years later, when Efim was fifty years old, the Lord told him that the time had come for that vision to be fulfilled, and that the Armenian Christians must leave immediately. Perhaps inevitably, most derided this prophecy of imminent destruction and stayed where they were. As the whole world now knows, appalling massacres were carried out against the Armenians, including the Christians who failed to heed this call to depart. There is footage from these atrocities on the excellent BBC2 documentary, “Kill the Christians.”
As the verse from Isaiah reminds us, God is so faithful in declaring what is to come! God blessed those who heeded the call to set out to America in amazing ways. Efim’s own grandson, Demos, founded The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International: a movement that has brought thousands of businessmen to Christ and sown wonderful seeds of revival right across the world.
There remains a long way to go in redeeming the grief of this sanguinary episode– not least in praying for current relationships between Turkey and Armenia – and for Christians as they once again face extinction throughout the Middle East at the hands of fanatical Muslims. The destruction of the Genocide Museum in Syria at the hands of ISIS, which commemorated the hundreds of thousands of Armenian victims in death camps in what is now Syria, is of particular distress to many Armenians.
* See Great Revivals, Colin Whittaker, Marshalls, 1984, pp.111-112
The Happiest People on Earth by Demos Shakarian (Hodder & Stoughton Religious)
For background information to the Turkish massacre of Armenians, see:
Cropped Photo of Armenia – Genocide Monument by Shaun Dunphy. CC BY-SA 4.0