The Forgotten Missionary Diran Chrakian lit an expensive cigar, picked up the volume on the table, and reclined in his favorite chair. As the soft smoke wafted through the air of the study, the sounds of neighborhood children returning from school hummed in the distance.
fter an hour, his housekeeper tapped on the door to announce a visitor. Diran made his way to the outer room where a man stood with a briefcase. After introductions Diran learned that his visitor, Nicolos Tefronides, was some kind of religious book salesman. Once Nicolos started into his spiel, he didn’t stop, handing volume after volume to Diran. For his part, Diran was having trouble balancing the books in one hand and the cigar in the other. Diran invited Nicolos to his study, where, to Nicolos’s surprise, his host pulled every book he had in his briefcase from his shelf, handing them to him with a grin. Diran then explained that one of his colleagues at the Armenian University of Constantinople had given them to him. An avowed atheist, Diran had no interest in religion, but a friend of his convinced him that there was a God. Shortly after, Diran joined a Christian church. Listening quietly, Nicolos suddenly broke in, “My friend, if you have all
these books, I am surprised you still smoke cigars!” Embarrassed, Diran immediately extinguished the cigar and never touched tobacco again after that autumn day in 1914. That Saturday the 44-year-old Diran Chrakian, famous philosopher and author, entered the 12 x 20 foot Seventh-day Adventist meeting room in the bustling capital of Turkey, quietly sliding into the front pew. After Nicolos’s visit, Diran read the Adventist books on the shelf and had to learn more about this religion. The minister was a Swiss man named Emil Frauchiger who spoke in English while a tiny Turkish teenager named Diamondola (“Little Diamond”) Keanides translated. As Diran looked around the congregation, he felt a sense of awe. Here were Armenians, Greeks, Germans, Jews, and Turks, naturally bitter enemies, worshiping together like a loving family. But what impressed Diran most was the beauty and symmetry of the truth presented that morning. Week after week he at-
tended the services until he embraced the Seventh-day Adventist message. When Diran became an Adventist, his family disowned him and he was divested of his tenured position at the university. To make matters worse, his baptism was delayed due to military conscription. Turkey was entering World War I and demanded that all able-bodied men report for duty. Yet Diran had never been happier, for he had found Jesus. He witnessed to fellow draftees and soldiers, winning converts to Adventism. But his outspokenness for Christ put him on the government’s radar, and he was targeted for Sabbath keeping and his refusal to bear arms. Providentially, he was able to pay a tax that relieved him of military service. Back in Constantinople, the homeless and jobless Diran stayed with fellow believers. Finally baptized by Elder Frauchiger, he entered the ministry. Diran’s spiritual progress astounded the Adventists in the city. His zeal for Christ was infectious and his faith in God unfaltering. He spent