I have been jailed 53 times for Jesus -Joe The Turk

Joe the Turk is the most influential soldier in the history of the Salvation Army of America.

Nishan Der Garabedian was born in central Turkey in 1860. He grew up in an Armenian home, but lost his father, who was an Armenian Apostolic priest, at the age of three and his mother when he was fourteen. At twenty-three, he immigrated to America, where he joined his brother. Nishan changed his name to Joe Garabed and later opened a shoe store in San Francisco.

Joe was known to have a short fuse, which often got him into fights. He also struggled with alcoholism. However, through the outreach of a Salvation Army officer, John Milsaps, Joe had a conversion experience. He changed his career path from shoe salesman to traveling evangelist for the Salvation Army.

In 1890, before there were cars, Joe journeyed all across America, sharing the news of Jesus Christ. He would dress up as a Captain America sultan and play his cornet to get people’s attention. He often said the phrases, “Jesus is Mighty to Save” and “No Cross, No Crown.” In total, he was arrested 53 times for disturbing the peace. He was acquitted the majority of the time.

His adventures include stopping the lynching of a fellow Salvation Army officer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Joe used his large frame to fight off the mob, giving his friend a window to escape. My favorite story is when he led a mini-revolution in Macomb, Illinois to get rid of the corrupt mayor who didn’t allow elections to be held. He became the temporary mayor of the town for five weeks until they had proper elections and voted in a new candidate.

In the fall of 1937, Joe Der Garabedian passed away in New York City. He had served the Salvation Army for 38 years, having led thousands of Americans to a transformative faith in Jesus Christ. His tombstone reads, “Joseph Garabed: An Armenian Solider of the Cross.”