The Crisis In Persia -mr191505

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MAY, 1915


The Christians in Persia are crying aloud to God for help, as did the Children of Israel in the days of Pharaoh's oppression. Fifteen thousands of the m are in the mission compounds of Urumia, and thousands more facing death or worse in cities and villages. Rev. Robert M. Labaree, who went out ten years ago to take the place of his brother who had been murdered by the Kurds, now writes appealing for help for these starving thousands, who are suffering because they are Christians and not Mohammedans. Turks and Kurds are bearing down upon them burning villages, looting property, killing men and boys, and carrying away women and children to a fate worse than death. More than fifty thousands dollars are needed immediately if these sufferers are not to die of starvation on the mission premises.

In the days of Pharaoh there were no human servants of God who could be called upon to relieve. His people's distress, and He called into operation. His mighty forces of nature to effect their release. To-day millions of men and women profess to be ready to follow His bidding -- "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." This call comes to Christians in America most loudly and insistently. They are most free from the awful strain of war, and their missionaries have been working in Persia for eighty years, and are the only ones in a position to render the needed help.

Persia is undergoing a baptism of blood, and if the Christian Church gives the needed sympathy and assistance we may see even more wonderful results than have followed in China, where the attempt to stamp out Christianity fifteen years ago resulted in the physical death of 10,000 Christians, but has born fruit in the awaking into spiritual life of hundreds of thousands of those who were spiritually dead in Boxer days. Truly, Christianity in Persia is at a crisis, but it may be a crisis, that may be turned to victory.

MISSIONARY PERILS IN TURKEY The storming of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus has caused some to fear that the missionaries in Turkey may be in peril. All letters from Constantinople, Smyrna, and Asia Minor, however, report the situation as quiet. The storming of Smyrna will probably not bring danger to the missionaries. The missionaries will, doubt, withdraw to the college grounds outside of the city, where the American flag will be displayed. At Constantinople, Robert College has been selected as the place of rendezvous in case the city is bombarded (which is not anticipated). The Turks have made attacks and there has been some clashing among Turks of a War Party and the Peace Party at Constantinople, the Peace Party being the stronger, but, without much leadership, while the War Party has all the German officers and the army and navy on its side.

In case Russia takes control of parts of Turkey, the change will probably not materially interfere with the missionary work. Russia has shown increasing liberality in the last ten years, and the war will possibly result in greater liberalization of Russian administration and in advancing the Kingdom of God in Turkey. Missionaries write in a hopeful tone for the future. A door of approach is opening to the Moslems surpassing anything in the ninety years' experience of the American Board in Turkey.

On the other hand, letters from Asia Minor describe an attitude on the part of the Turks in authority that looks very threatening toward Christians of any race aside from the Germans. Many Greeks, Armenians, and Protestants are in terror because of threats and daily outrages. Greeks in one city were imprisoned simply for using the Greek language. Pictures of bloody massacres and outrage are posted in Turkish schoolrooms. On the walls of a school for little girls, for instance, states in one letter, hangs a lurid scene in blood-red and white. Headless bodies lie around; hands, arms, feet, from all of which blood streams. In the center stands a Christian hacking an old man to death. On all these pictures are words certain to arouse bitter fanaticism."

The teachers say these pictures are sent by the government, and declare that they are instructed also to teach the children poems which inculcate hatred and contempt. One "hodja," on being reasoned with, merely stamped his foot and said, "So will we grind these enemies under our feet."

The American missionaries, for the most part, seem to expect little trouble in case the Allies capture Constantinople. Years of kindness, and the help and friendliness extended in the last few months, have laid such foundations of trust that the common people will not carry out the cruel or blood plans of some Moslem leaders. Many Americans are looking forward to greater intimacy and helpfulness than ever before, growing out of the shared troubles of recent times.

MISSION SCHOOLS IN TURKEY The degree of the Turkish Government abrogating the "capitulation" was issued last August. Soon after this, a governmental order was issued affecting private religious, educational, and benevolent institutions in the empire, assuming that previous agreements were also abrogated, so that the rights of each institution must be taken up de novo. Institutions that have no imperial formation are reckoned as actually not in existence, and are not to be recognized, and were given two months (from September 18th) to apply directly to a foreman, not through any diplomatic representative. Any institution failing to secure its forms within the two mount's' limit was to be immediately closed.

Some of the statements in the order will gravely affect missionary work if they are put into operation. Foreign individuals may fund private schools in Turkey only by imperial affirmation and the accordance with the Ottoman law, after permission has been granted by the Department of Education.

Some of the conditions indicate the blow that would be struck at Christian missionary education by such regulations. All schools, without exception, are subject to municipal taxation. All schools must make obligatory the study in Turkish of the Turkish language, with the history and geography of Turkey, the Turkish language being the language of the school. The program of the schools is to be approved by the necessary authorities, including the approval of all text-books, etc.

A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922