If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. (John 15:18-21)
Relate: “I am one sitting beside a river with absolutely no means of rescuing anyone from it. Blood was flowing down the river, with thousands of innocent young children, upright old men, and helpless women flowing down that river into oblivion. Whoever I could save with my bare hands, I saved. The rest went down the river, never to return.”
These are the words of Mehmed Celal Bey. At one time he was the Ottoman governor of Aleppo, what is now northern Syria. This became the destination point for the forced evacuation of Armenians from other parts of the Anatolian peninsula. Most Syrian Arabs followed his lead in offering shelter and succor to these refugees, but when Celal Bey tried speaking out against what Telat Pasha and his Young Turk cronies were doing he was relocated to the less prestigious governorship of Konya. Once there he refused to take part on the forced relocation of the Armenians in his area and did what he could to offer shelter in Konya for refugees from other parts of Turkey. Needless to say, he didn’t last long in this position either. Again he fell a few rungs further down the political ladder. His fate was sealed when he wrote an article making the front page of Vakit condemning the genocide. Thus ended the career of the Turkish version of Oscar Schindler.
The limited space I have here could not even begin to describe the horrors that describe the horrors inflicted on Armenian Christians by Turk Muslims. It was in reporting of these atrocities that the word “genocide” was first coined and it is also clear that the Germans were following the playbook first established by the Young Turks and completed by Mustafa Ataturk. I would strongly encourage everyone to read more on the Armenian Genocide here.
React: I honestly don’t know how to move forward into my react section. I have no idea how to say everything that I want to say while keeping myself limited to a normal length devotional here on The River Walk. So instead, I will simply ask my question. Celal Bey was an example of a good and decent Muslim who help Christians during their time of desperate need. The Syrian Arab population as a whole were an example of good and decent people who offered what help they could to the Armenian refugees during the darkest hour of Armenian history. Who will now step forward and help the Syrian Arab people during their darkest hour? Where are the Christian versions of Celal Bey who will stand up for what is right?
God, forgive us for not doing all that we can for those You love. Forgive us for shutting our eyes to those who are so desperate for You. We understand that because of our stand for You, the world will hate us. But forgive us for demonstrating through our apathy and inaction that we also hate our world. Give us a deeper love. Give us an active love. Give us a voice that will not be silent until just peace is seen in our world and in the hearts of all of those we know. Let us be Your voice. Let us be Your arms extended.