Our History - Exodus To America
Forty Five Years
FORTY-FIVE YEARS had passed since the eleven-year-old Russian boy had written the prophecy from God. He was now fifty-six years of age and still lived in the community. Four and a half decades had passed without his prophecy coming true and he apparently was to be considered as a false prophet. Then, without any advance indication, the Lord instructed the prophet to warn the Armenians that the time had come for the prophecy to be fulfilled. Consequently, he began telling the people: "The time has come! Now is the time to leave this country!"
The word quickly spread among the Armenian Pentecostal Christians, and some of them and some of the Russian Pentecostals began their exodus to America. The year was 1900. They took the written prophecy with them and preserved it in a church they built in Los Angeles, California. Demos Shakarian did not leave Armenia for America until five years later. Then he took his wife and five daughters and thirteen-year-old son, Isaac, first going to New York and then to Los Angeles. As each Pentecostal family departed from Armenia, unbelievers mocked them just as Noah and his family were mocked before the Flood, yet the Armenians knew that Noahâ€™s Ark finally rested upon the mountains of Ararat which were in Armenia. The Armenian Pentecostal exodus to America continued until 1912, when the last Pentecostal family left Kara Kala where the prophecy was delivered.
Two years later, the great World War I broke out, and in the terrible onslaught, when Turkey overran Armenia, every soul in Kara Kala was wiped out. The mockers and scoffers and unbelieving Christians were destroyed. The prophecy given in 1855 and reaffirmed in 1900 was fulfilled in 1914 and the years that have followed. The Pentecostal Christians who believed God and obeyed Him were safe in America, among them Demos Shakarian, Senior, and his family.
In Los Angeles, the same as in Kara Kala, the Demos Shakarian home became the place of worship for the Armenians and Russians.
Almost immediately upon the arrival of the Shakarians in Los Angeles, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street Mission began. Demos and his brother-in-law, M. Mushagian, and another Armenian man were strolling down San Pedro Street. As they neared Azusa Street, they heard familiar soundsâ€”shouting and singing and praying in the same manner they were accustomed to in their own services. On reaching the horse barn that had been converted into a Mission, they discovered several speaking in tongues. They returned to their people with the thrilling news that God had begun to move in America as He had in Armenia, in Russia, in the Early Churches, and in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. In America, the newest of countries, the pattern of the Pentecostal outpouring was the same as it had been in Armenia, the oldest of countries, the very cradle of civilization and believed by many Bible students and scientists to have been the site of the Garden of Eden, the home of Adam and Eve. The Pentecostal experience came to the Jews in Jerusalem, it came to the Catholics in Russia, to the Presbyterians in Armenia, and now it had fallen upon a motley mixture of the cross-section of humanity at Los Angeles, many races and many faiths all responding in like manner.
ISAAC SHAKARIAN was sixteen years of age when his father died, and he went to work in a harness factory and labored there three years to support his widowed mother, his sisters, now six in number, and himself. At the age of nineteen, he went into the wholesale fruit business. Soon, he married, moved to Downey, near Los Angeles, purchased twenty acres of land and three milk cows and started his first dairy herd. Faith in God, good judgment and hard work eventually multiplied that first little herd one-thousand fold, until in 1943 the Shakarian herd had reached three thousand, the world's largest dairy!
Not only did the Shakarians prosper, but every one of the Armenians and Russians who left and went to America as a result of the prophecy prospered according to the promise the Lord had written many years before by the hand of the eleven-year-old Russian boy. The promise is holding true, according to the Bible promise, even to the third and fourth generation.
On July 21, 1913, at Downey, Demos Shakarian, Junior, was born. He was born into a Pentecostal home and grew up in a Pentecostal church. Concerning this, he says: "I cannot remember a time when I did not love God. I cannot remember a time when I did not believe that I was a child of God and on my way to Heaven.
"If this sounds strange to you, it may help to point out that our Armenian families are a little different from the average American family. In the average American home, there is a lot of individuality, each member of the home deciding the course he wants to follow. Sometimes, religiously, this carries the members of the home far apart. But in the average Armenian home, we go together. Like the old Hebrews and the early Christians, our religion is a family religion. We stand by one another religiously, socially and in business.
"The effectiveness of this policy is illustrated in the fact that in our Armenian church in Los Angeles, although all our weekly services except one are still conducted in the Armenian language and after the old Armenian form of worshipping God, we still have the young people with us. Our American friends who visit the church are always impressed with the fact that there are just about as many boys and girls in the service as there are older men and women."