Armenian Bible Church            

Հայ Աստուածաշունչի Եկեղեցի

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

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By Thomas Cosmades



            Throughout history 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. 

            Approximately five 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 nine decades.

            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.

        Haralambos Bostanjoglou, 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.