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Demos Shakarian (Armenian: Դեմոս Շաքարյան; 21 July 1913 – 23 July 1993) was a Christian businessman of Armenian origin from Los Angeles who founded the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI). His story and the story of FGBMFI is the subject of the book The Happiest People on Earth, written by John and Elizabeth Sherrill (Guideposts Magazine) and published in 1975.
Demos was named after his grandfather, who left Kara Kala in Armenia for America due to the 1855 prophecy of the Russian "Boy Prophet", Efim Gerasemovitch Klubniken, that an unspeakable tragedy was to soon come upon Armenia, and he was part of a large group of Pentecostal Christian Armenians who moved to Los Angeles years before the Azusa Street Revival. Demos Sr. died while working on the construction of railroads in Nevada, and his young son Isaac became the head of the family. Isaac married Zarouhi Yessayian, and he became a prosperous dairy farmer. Demos Jr. entered the family business and their milk herd grew to become the largest in the world at the time. He married Rose Gabrielian in 1933.
Shakarian used his organizational abilities to facilitate evangelistic campaigns, in particularly working with Charles S. Price. Other evangelists at his events included Tommy Hicks and William Branham and Oral Roberts. Shakarian spent most of his adult life building the Fellowship for free. Even honorariums that were given to him at speaking engagements he would deposit them back into the ministry. Every year at the annual board meeting he would resign his position as president step out into the hall and allow the 200 man board to vote in their president that serve for the next year. They would always vote him in, nonetheless this speaks volumes to the character of this godly man. The Fellowship grew into over 190 countries. Hundreds of other ministries were birthed from the Fellowship. Shakarian played a key role in working with Paul Crouch to help launch TBN. Joel Osteen’s ministry started from his father John Osteen. Shakarian played a key role in saving that ministry in the early days. When John was removed as a pastor due to his beliefs in the Pentecostal movement Shakarian immediately caught a flight to be with John, convinced him not to quit but to start his own ministry wherein Shakarian funded the launching of John’s first tent meeting.
The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International
Shakarian noted that his tent campaigns mainly attracted women, and Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International was established to encourage more participation by men by providing a platform for businessmen to give religious testimonies. The plan was supported by Oral Roberts, and under his leadership, the FGBMFI had chapters in over 190 countries. Richard Shakarian is now international president of FGBMFI.
Shakarian was a third-generation Pentecostal, and he believed in the "Full Gospel", that all the supernatural events in the New Testament should be understood literally, and could also occur today. In particular, he believed that God healed the sick and injured (including on one occasion his own cattle herd from tuberculosis), and that Christians filled with the Holy Spirit received visions and promptings from God, including direct messages.
Shakarian considered that although God sometimes prompted him to pray for healings, he was primarily to be a "helper", as defined by I Corinthians 12:28.
- Sherrill, John and Elisabeth, The Happiest People on Earth, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1975, p. 19.
Bellinger, Mark (1992). Demos: the man of Fellowship. Upright Enterprises.