You Can't Tell A Book By Its Cover

Armenian slave market

The days of a human being sold at markets like cattle have long passed. Interestingly, one of the last places to abolish slavery was not in America, but in the Moslem lands.

During the time when Christians of Armenian were being driven from their homes, one particular Christian mother and daughter found themselves among the exiles. The hardships and perils they experienced exacted a heavy toll. After having endured more than seemed humanly possible, the time came that the mother recognized that she had but a little time to live.

The following morning, the mother gave her daughter the terrifying news, along with the decision she had come to during the night.

“My daughter, I love you very much."

“Yes,” the daughter replied, “I know that.”

“What I am about to tell, I know will seem terrible to you, but I believe that it is God’s will for you.”

“Whatever are you talking about?” the disturbed girl asked.

“I know that I cannot live much longer. As difficult as it is to say, I believe that once I am gone, you will be much better off if I sell you as a servant to one of the Moslem families.”

“Oh, no, Mother,” the girl cried. “Please don't do that.”

However, her mother persisted in her conviction that it was God’s will. “You see, my darling, once I am gone and can no longer take care of you, you’ll be quickly snatched up by someone. I've noticed that the younger women get along so much better who are working as servants.”

After, much crying and pleading, the two agreed that the mother was right. As difficult as it was to part, the daughter became a servant in a Moslem family which assured her of comparative safety.

The day came, however, when the master called her into his room. “I’m afraid,” he said, “that I have bad news for you. I can no longer afford to keep you. I will be taking you to the slave market tomorrow. I am sorry to do this, but that’s the way it must be.”

The terrified girl ran to her small room and there falling on the small carpet that also served as her bed, she began to cry profusely. Then, she began reflecting back on her earlier childhood days. She had been raised in a Christian family, but she had never personally had a Christian experience. She had always known that it was the right thing to do, but had put off the time as so many young people are prone to do. Now in sore distress and great need, she wished that she had accepted Christ as her Lord and Saviour.

“Oh, God,” she cried, “I’m so sorry that I put off becoming Your child. How can I turn to you now? When I had a family, a home, food, and clothing of my own, I failed to take time for You. Though I didn't turn to You when I had all the opportunities in the world. How can I expect You to help me now when I’m in trouble?”

As she lay there recalling the many lost opportunities and unappreciated privileges, one passage of scripture came to her mind. She did not ever remember memorizing it, but still she could quote it. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee.”

Over and over she repeated it. "Dear Lord," she prayed, "I am so sorry that it took all this to bring me to You. I’m so ashamed of my past. Will You please forgive me?”

That night she prayed for deliverance and in that small room, the peace of Jesus broke through the barrier with which Satan had surrounded her. She realized a sense of forgiveness. She found a Saviour as well as peace of mind and was braced with courage for the coming day.

When she arrived at the slave market, she was terrified at the sight of such a crowd. The village marketplace buzzed with varied noises that seemed to tell her that her fate was soon to be known. A number of women were to be sold that day. She was stunned to find herself being the first to be dragged out onto the elevated platform.

Try as she might, she could not control the eerie feeling that came over her as she stood there with the many men staring at her. As the bidding began a feeling of nausea swept over her. “Oh, Lord, please help me,” was all she could silently pray over and over again.

Eventually, the bidding narrowed down to just five men. As their rivalry for her increased, her terror increased as she realized that one of them would soon carry her off like an animal. Every single one of them looked so cruel and barbarous.

Just then, an old Arab made his way towards the front. As he looked right into her eyes, his expression seemed more severe than all the others put together. And, when this old man, whose stare she found to be most frightening of all began to bid, she thought she was going to die right on the spot.

The other bidders became infuriated with the old Arab for entering into the contest, but he continued bidding.

At last the final bid was place and she found herself sold to the old Arab.

Without saying a word, he led her away by the rope that auctioneers had tied around her neck, as in her fright she stumbled and staggered through the crowd. It was obvious to the old man that she was terrified.

Leaving the market place, they turned a corner and entered a side street. There he stopped, and looking at her, he smiled. It was not, however, the sinister smile she had expected, but one of compassion and understanding. Somehow she was instantly relieved.

“Don't be afraid,” he said in perfect Armenian. “You won't be hurt. My wife is here and she will take good care of you. I didn't buy you because I needed or wanted you.” And with this said, he removed the rope and gently led her by the arm to an elderly lady who was sitting at a table at an outdoor restaurant.

Throughout the remainder of the war, the Arab and his wife cared for the young girl and when the war was ended, they helped her get back to her own land and to her relatives that still remained. Before leaving her in the hands of her aunt and bidding her farewell, the Arab and his wife approached her.

“I want to tell you something before we leave,” the kind Arab told the young lady. “The night before I came into the slave market I received the deep impression that I was to go to the slave market the following morning. This impression came to me several times until I recognized that it must be from God. As Christians we knew that when something so strong comes to a believer like that, it must be acted upon even though the reason is not given. So, the next day, we went into town in obedience to what we felt was the command of the Lord.

“You see,” he continued, “in the night I saw myself at the slave market buying a young slave girl. I have never bought a slave before in my life and had no intention of ever doing so. However, when I entered that crowd and saw you on the platform, I recognized you as the one I saw in my dream!