In April 1909, around 20,000 Christians, mostly Armenians, were killed in a two-stage massacre by the Turks in Adana and the surrounding region. A Christian minister described the first outbreak of violence on 14 April:
People were firing from roofs, windows and minarets: the bullets fell thick as hail on roofs, streets and houses. It was a cross-fire that began all at once, as if a flash of electricity had armed all the inhabitants of Adana at the same time… Leaving the mosque, Muslims who usually did not wear turbans were seen wearing mullahs’ headgear, so that they would not be mistaken for Christians. Finally, there was something like the smell of blood in the air.
Thousands of people took refuge in churches and Christian buildings as the Armenian quarter, including shops and homes, was set alight. The violence intensified over the next two days, leaving a trail of devastation and carnage. Armenian villagers in the surrounding region were also targeted.
Calm was restored by the morning of 17 April, but it was short-lived.
On the 25 April, Adana was again besieged for three days. Gangs rampaged through the city, slitting people’s throats and torching churches and Armenian schools.
American missionary Herbert Adams Gibbons, who was in Adana at the time, described the aftermath in an article for the New York Times on 28 April: “Adana is in a pitiable condition. The town has been pillaged and destroyed… It is impossible to estimate the number of killed. The corpses lie scattered through the streets. Friday, when I went out, I had to pick my way between the dead to avoid stepping on them. Saturday morning I counted a dozen cartloads of Armenian bodies in one-half hour being carried to the river and thrown into the water.”
The 1909 Adana massacre was part of the mass genocide of Armenian Christians throughout Turkey between 1894 and 1923.
The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it.
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
Originally published in Heroes of Our Faith by Patrick Sookhdeo (Isaac Publishing).