In 1915, the Turkish government implemented a plan to systematically exterminate the Armenian people who lived within their borders. The Armenians, long under Turkish rule, had been the first nation to accept Christianity. When the Turks were finished only 60,000 Armenians remained within their borders. When they began there were 2,000,000.
I have never written a diary before. But a glorious task awaits me. Awaits all of us. We go to Vern this very week to destroy the Armenians. All of them it is rumored. They are a vile people. Infidels, shop keepers, lovers of money. They have been a thorn in our side for hundreds of years. In fact more than half a century. Clinging to their idolatry. And threatening our great empire.
But soon they will see if this Jesus is anything more that a prophet. The Son of God, oh yes, they say so. But Allah will bring that blasphemy hard upon their vile heads. And soon they will see that an Armenian is not fit to walk in the shadow of a Turk!
I long to see this cleansing. I long to help it succeed.
Vern is nothing. A dirty, little area. But we are here to do a great thing. To spill the blood of infidels is to obey Allah. So our Iman told us. Yes. So we are here. To kill Armenians. Who in over a five hundred years have refused the truth.
The Armenians are nothing. They are not even as I expected. Most of them are as poor as their faith. Most of them are farmers. Many of them cringe and fawn when I walk byas if expecting the worst. Oh, and they should. Especially the women. Especially the young ones. They will make good sport.
There is an American here who also ought to die. He, too, worships Jesus. Infidel! Idolater! I hope we will be allowed his flesh. He is a doctorand a missionary. But he is an American. And therefore weak. How long would it take us to make him cry out to Allah, I wonder? Not long, I think.
The days go on and on. And still there is no blood. I feel like a man forced to watch a beautiful woman strip, only to be sent away after watching. Day after day.
Pasha Bey has fun. We hear the screams from his house. But all around us the stinking Armenians move and still are safe. Only Pasha Bey has drawn blood.
There are in this town three people who do not mince or scrape. One is a priest. The other, an old woman. The last is a young man. A tailor, I think. He is also a Protestant, and therefore more stubborn than even the priest. He is the one I want. He stopped me this very morning and told me that when the day comes that my conscience accuses me for what I am (not 'for what I have done,' no, this issue of an Ass said 'for what I am'!) and what I will do (he is right there, it will seem dark to this one who is bound for the fire! Dark to him, but light for all who truly believe) He said that Jesus will heal my conscience.
Oh yes, this one I want. I will slowly spill his blood.
The day has come. Blood filled the streets. First the men. I saw the priest die. He was hung from a tree and as we ripped his intestines from him he cried out to his godto his idolto Jesus the Prophetbut no more than a prophetthat we should be forgiven.
We forgiven! He is the idolater! I wanted to watch him die, but my fury mixed withwhat shall I call itit was not fear! But whatever it was my knees turned to water and I weakly fled.
Now my fury will not let me sleep. I must bath in the blood of these dogs and drive out my weakness. Allah hates the weak!
No weakness this day. Today we took the young women. We took them and we took them and we took them. In a frenzy we took them. Plowing field after field. With a hardness that would not fail us. And when our pleasure was done we killed them. One whom I had taken and was then stabbed used her own blood to mark her forehead with a cross. And as her breath began to fail hermay Allah curse her with eternal fireshe invited me to come to the Savior. Not to the lawnot to the true religion of Mohamedno, but to her prophet whom she called the Son of God as she died.
It is night again and the fury and the weakness mix. And I cannot sleep. I see her face, marked by her blood, shining with what seemed to be joy.
Allah Akbar! This is a bloody sorcerers' trick. These people are damned by their faith. I came to spill their blood, but they have spilled my rest and threaten to overthrow my mind.
Tomorrow I will find the young man and his cries of pain shall be to me a lullaby.
I found him. Oh, God, I found him. Dear God, I found him. Would that my mother had never borne me.
My God! What have I done!
I set about yesterday to kill myself. But I saw the young girl's face (she would have been married yesterday)-- I saw her face and heard her words and for a moment thought that Jesus could be my Savior.
But no. I cursed the thought and blessed the Prophet who is Allah's last word. I rejected the thought and Jesus, who haunts my mind like a demon. And then I heaved food until I fainted.
It will not leave methe face of that girl. And nowdamn the
Nazarenethe thought that only in him can I find mercy will not leave
Today I found the old womanthe one who would not scrape before me. She is dying. She is starving. I stole food for her and when no one was looking I fed her. It will do no good. She is too close to death.
Today, the old woman died in my arms. I comforted her and -Allah forgive me!- promised her I would pray about letting Jesus be my Savior. I did it just to comfort her. I will not pray on it!
One more thing: I promised to take her daughter to Damascus. She will be safe there. "Hripsime -my Hripsime - please take her to safety." I promised. But keeping the promise is something else.
I still see her -the young girl- at night. But now I just see her face and hear her utter her last words: "Jesus, Son of God, your love is the victory."
Victory? Victory? Perhaps for her. She was a virgin before I took her. But for me? There can be no victory for me. The law, the obedience which leads to paradise, were I to do all required by Mohammed I could not enter. My heart is too filthy with cravings and stained too deeply with wrong to wash with fasts and ablutions! The Iman was wrong.
Victory is not for me.
I am sinking into a pit from which I will never climb.
Today I prayed: "Jesus, if you are real, lift me from this pit."
Yesterday I passed a field filled with golden flowers. I had not seen them before. I hardly saw them now. I passed them as if they were not there. I have one more thing to do. I must take Hripsime to Damascus. I must steal a camel.
It is done. But they know. The trip took three days. And I was missed. I left the girl with an American missionary. He gave me a Bible. Like a fool I kept it. They will come soon to arrest me. Today or tomorrow.
Today I rose and stole food for the Armenians. My pockets were stuffed and I walked like a man sleepwalking to where they were. I thought no thoughts, I felt no feelings. It was I -yet not I- who carried the food. Like all the yesterdays I was a dead man. A man who lived and yet had killed himself with wickedness.
And thenI know this sounds strangea Hoopoe flew past and soared above the field of yellow blossoms. I followed his flight and my eyes fell upon the flowers. And I awoke as from a dream and the glory of the blossoms seared my eyes and their scent filled me and I knew for a certainty that Jesus is the Son of God. And I knew Him as my Savior. And then this thought gripped me: Because He is your Savior He can be your Lord. I wept. And I sang. And I went and fed the starving ones.
They knew, the Armenians. They knew I had become a Christian. Before I could tell them, they knew. And an old woman who could not stand, even after I had fed her, called for a cup of water and baptized me.
It has been a week and they have not come. But this morning one of the soldiers warned me to flee. But if I flee I cannot feed the Armenians: my brothers and sisters. And so I will stay.
This will be my last day to write. I am a dead man. And yet, not a dead man. Only last week did I begin to live. Before she died the Armenian woman who baptized me taught me this saying of my Lord: "Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Yes, for your sake Jesus. I who once hated you now love you more than my own life. And if loving your people costs me my life then I am not afraid. I long to see your face.
What I have done is unspeakable. I spoke about it yesterday to the American missionary I once longed to kill. I will not attempt to excuse what I have done. But the missionary told me that every human heart, left to itself, is capable of doing the darkest things. God knows mine is.
He is the light, my Jesus. And not even the darkness of my heart could overcome Him. But the darkness. It is so thick. The Law cannot touch it. It cannot help. What is needed is not the Law, but the Savior.
May God grant this light to come someday to my people. They are sunk in the same darkness I was, in a wickedness that cries to heaven. Their hands are stained with blood. And only the blood of Jesus can cleanse them.
- - - - -
Here the diary ends. My grandfather, Mohammed Suleiman found it after they had arrested Mehmet Rashid. He read it and hid it, but the words gripped him and he carried it with him during the First World War. All he would say of the ensuing five years was: "Mehmet was right. And I knew it. My stain was deeper than his. I was also guilty of cowardice. But finally I came to the Scorned One, to Jesus, and He did not reject me. And so I was baptized and forced to flee my country."
When my father came to faith my grandfather gave him the diary. And He looked my father in the eye and said: "You are a sign of hope that our people, lost in darkness, will someday come to the light."
I know this because, when I came to faith, my father gave to me the diary and said the same thing. And I gave the diary and said the same thing to my daughter, Hripsime Suleiman, when she came to faith. And now she has decided to share this diary with the whole world. I think she is right.
She was married last year to an Armenian. Last month I became a grandfather. And this child, who is to me a sign of the power of the healing love of our dear Lord is appropriately named to the glory of God: Gloria Christiana Motian.
Mike Frank © 2003
Back to the index