"Near the turn of the 20th century, a young couple from Boston felt that God was calling them to be missionaries in the country of Turkey," Dr. Hermiz said. "They traveled to Turkey and located in the little village of Midyet, where my great-grandfather lived. His father warned him, 'Whenever you get around those missionaries, be sure to put your fingers in your ears because the stuff they are preaching and teaching will pollute your mind.'

"One day he was at an open market trying to buy some meat for his family. The missionary was across the road preaching the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This market was located in an open field with a lot of flies around the fresh meat. While he was trying to buy meat for his family, with his fingers in his ears, a fly landed on his nose. The fly was driving him crazy. Finally, in desperation, he took his fingers out of his ears and swatted the fly away.

"At that time he heard the missionary say, 'The Bible says, 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says.' It was the first Bible verse he had ever heard. It so intrigued and captivated him that he never got his finers back in his ears. He kept listening to the missionary and walked across the road to join the crowd. This was the first evangelical and evangelistic service he had ever been in."

Dr. Hermiz continued, "At the close of the missionary's message, my great-grandfather, at 21 years of age, went forward and invited Jesus Christ into his life. As far as we know he was the first 'born again' Christian in our family, led to the Lord by this missionary from Boston.

"My great-grandfather paid a great price. His parents said, 'Our son is dead.' When anyone asked about him, they would say, on the day of his conversion to Christianity, that was the day he died. They disinherited him.

"His wife, also left him immediately, with their two children. Yet, after a few weeks, she came back and they were reunited and reconciled. She became a believer in Jesus Christ and they established a Christian home."

Dr. Hermiz added, My great-grandfather became a community leader and a very wealthy man. He led many people to Christ and helped the missionary build a church in downtown Midyet. That church is still there today and the Gospel has continued to be preached in that community for more than a century.

"The years went by and there was a great massacre in that area with hundreds of thousands of Christians massacred in the Middle East. My grandfather fled the country without his family. His intention was to get settled and then bring them to the United States. In the meantime his wife and more than 30 members of their family were martyred for their faith in Christ."

Dr. Hermiz shared, "Miraculously, my father, Thomas E. Hermiz, was smuggled out of the country and reunited with his father and other relatives in New York."

Dr. Hermiz concluded that as a result of the witness of the missionaries who came to Turkey, there are five generations of Christians in his family. His father was a pastor for 60 years. He and Dr. Hermiz, and other family members have shared more than 100 years of combined missionary evangelism and pastoral ministry in the United States and other countries of the world.

(Article published in the News Sun, Sebring, 3/14/15)