At the opening of the winter term of 1912, through the kindness and instrumentality of Bishop S.R. Smith, then the president of the Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home, now a departed saint in glory, myself, and two other Armenian young men were admitted to the school, upon a previous arrangement made by Miss. Krikorian; her nephew, also was later added on…
And so it was, Meshach joined Jacob, Hrant, and Samuel as the first international students to attend Messiah College three years following the institution’s establishment. With such great accomplishment came many challenges for these students. They were physically present, yet their hearts and minds often reflected upon the pressing conflicts and violence occurring back at home. English was not their first language and their knowledge of this language was limited. For Meshach, much of his college experience remains unknown, yet there are some aspects of his college life he wrote about
I attended the classes for a week. I could carry the books, but not the language, so I resolved not to climb the ladder by jumping at it, but to walk to the top by way of the steps. I laid Myers down to rest, and one other book beside it to keep company till I should see them again. If those red bricks had the gift of tongue, they could only count the hours I consumed in the presence of midnight oil, consulting Webster for every word. What the mathematician wants by his mysterious words, the historian with his veiled sentences, the grammarians with his hypens and hyperboles, the speller with his puzzling words, pneumonias and phatamagorias, while you see them by your mental vision, but are compelled to spell wrong because you cannot pronounce them—is all so different from what I used to know and speak.
Meshach calls his dictionary, next to Jesus Christ and his Bible, his most reliable companion in his first year. By his fourth year, he adjusted to the English language and the American educational system.
During my first year, next to Jesus Christ and my Bible, Webster’s dictionary was my best friend. Second year went more easily and smoothly compared to the first; third was still better than the second, and my fourth year was not study but singing a song…
Following his time at Messiah (he graduated/left in1915), Meshach travelled to the west lecturing and preaching until he arrived in California. There, he further his education at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Biola University. Throughout his time in America, Meshach never forgot his people and their suffering. He vowed to return to Turkey as a missionary to the Mohammedan Turks, those responsible for the Armenian Genocide.
In 1918, Meshach became ordained within the Brethren in Christ Church by Bishop John R. Zook. Unable to travel back to his homeland, he served Armenian communities in Philadelphia and continued to travel across the nation preaching the Gospel. He authored numerous books including The Spirit of the Shepherd, The Adjective of Antioch, The Apocalypse of Christ, and The Hand of God. Minster and author, Meshach was also no stranger to the American government. He was elected to the Committee for Relief in the Near East established by the government in 1915.
I did want to include some details about Meshach’s personal life. His first marriage was to Miss. Mary Ruth Ikles, an alumna of Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home. She was born on November 24, 1896 and a native of Pennsylvania. By 1942, Meshach and Mary resided on 2213 Green Street in Philadelphia. Here, Meshach was the pastor of the Armenian Methodist Church on 59th Street. There are 1930 and 1940 Federal Census Records for Meshach and his wife. Sadly in 1956, Meshach buried his first wife at Spring Hill Cemetery. He later remarries to Miriam Engle. I would not be surprised if she was also an alumna of Messiah College. The remainder of Meshach’s life was spent at the Messiah Home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania until his death on December 7, 1974. He is buried alongside his second wife, Miriam, at Grantham’s Memorial Cemetery overlooking Messiah College.
Until the next post,
I do have photos and copies of the census records pertaining to Meshach and his wife; however, they are on my other laptop. Give me some time and I will upload them in a few weeks.