March 2015 Kalkman Newsletter (continued)
A couple of days later, I visited another friend still in the Middle East, I meet with him annually in
overseas extension study program form a Canadian University, which we both attend. He is the
chaplain at a partner school in the in middle of a Muslim part of town, with more than a thousand,
students (more than 90%), that are Muslims. The school leadership is proud of the fact, that non of
the alumni have ever been linked to any terrorist activity. The chaplain teaches them from the Bible
on a weekly basis, year after year, and the parents are fully aware and happy with it (and pay for
the education). I can not put to much in print about this, but please feel free to ask about it when
we come to the US for our deputation year, starting this summer.
At the moment, I am writing you from Albania, where I am traveling with a (returning) volunteer who
does business seminars, while I am strengthening/ refreshing our network of contacts (with
denominational leaders in 6 different countries in just this one week), prior to our upcoming
deputation year in the US. The class of about 17 people is busy, while I’m writing to you. This
country, with mosques spread out over the country-side, was (and in some way still is)
predominantly Muslim, with a post-war period of severe atheism prior to the 90s. There are some
pockets of majority Roman Catholic areas, including the city of Lezha which is 85% Catholic.
I met with a pastor this morning, who came to faith through George, one of our AB- Missionaries.
We first met 12 years ago, when he was mentored and ordained as a young pastor, now he is the
president of the church denomination in Albania, and he asks for volunteer help with their summer
camps. He serves the Lord faithfully in his church, with different community outreaches. He told me
that many Muslims in his area are coming to Christian churches for answers, and want to know
what it means to follow Jesus.
I was wondering what would happen if they (Muslims) came to our home churches. Would the
followers of Jesus (us) be so inspirational that these seeking Muslims would also become followers
of Jesus? What would it take from our side to make them feel both welcome, and sense the
essence of our faith? If it would be something else than the “national” or “Christian” flag behind the
pulpit, what would it be, that makes the sacrificial love of Jesus tangible, and causes the Kingdom
of God to expand and to be built? How do we reflect God’s character as Children of God?
Tomorrow, I will be in Kosovo, where we cooperate with a person who became the first (still only)
Christian in her Muslim family. Her father was deliberately killed and shot by (“Christian”) Orthodox
nationalists in the 1990s wars, leaving mom with 6 little daughters alone. She is now directing an
NGO outreach for Christian community development. Compelled by the love of Christ, she is giving
hope to the marginalized and forgotten. Our IM- volunteer will be doing workshops about starting
small enterprises with the organization, she directs, mainly in Muslim and Gypsy areas.
See next page for some more (background) information on Syria/ Jordan/ Lebanon/ Israel.
(Continued on Middle East with more back-ground information).
How come that hundreds, actually thousands of Syrian Muslims turn to Jesus for a new future?
“Nobody wants them, they are the despised people, those refugees from Syria”, is what I heard
again and again while visiting the Middle-East this winter. Violent interference in its neighbor’s
politics in the past decade and before, makes Syrians very unwelcome cross-border-guests now.
Still, in desperation they are coming in great numbers, and great numbers are coming to the Lord.
This tiny little country saw an estimated 1,5 million Syrian refugees added to their own population
of less than 4 million, in the past two years. The country’s history with the Palestinian refugees
coming in waves starting in 1948 was supposed to be temporary. However, these are still living in
prison-like camps enclosed and on the edge of survival for almost 70 years. This is a contributing
source to continuing tensions in the Middle East. Tensions about which Christians in the West are
often misinformed or lack proper information, likely due to biased media information about Israel,
which is, after all, linked to geographical origins of our faith. Still the dynamics of the Kingdom, and
rule of God, surpass these tensions and we witness hundred-fold fruit and harvest today.
The bad experience with refugees during most of our lifetime, causes the Lebanese government to
refuse making provisions, or having any mercy on the fate of these newly arriving refugees, this
time from the North and East from Syria, instead of from the South. This time there are no official
refugee camps, like the UN-Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, but instead there are un-recognized
‘settlements’; makeshift shelters, the occupying of empty structures, settling in garages, or in
makeshift tents for which flooring is not allowed, not even in the muddy rainy season, like this
month, (it was pouring rain for 6 days straight during my visit). Anyone wanting to come to Lebanon
and who openly wants to help them will not receive a visa and can not enter the country.
For the first time in more than a century that our partner churches in this Middle Eastern country
are challenged in a special way to help. Their unique position is because, firstly almost nobody
else feels inclined to help, or has pity on these new refugees. Additionally, through generations of
presence, of churches in villages and towns, our partners have gained respect and acceptance
both in traditional Christian areas as well as in Muslim areas. This puts them in a unique position to
help and live out Christian love for others, no pressure, no questions asked and no matter what.
This is what the (‘despised’) Syrian refugees notice: unconditional love, shelter, food, aid etc. from
our partners (with help of Christians from our world-wide family). And many respond wanting to
know more about their faith. When I visited a church on Sunday morning, the first service was
packed with Syrians, some ladies in their black Muslim dresses, with head-scarfs and faces
covered in the front pews.Many already decided to follow Jesus, others wanting to follow Jesus too.
Years ago, I was at a denominational conference in Jordan, a well known local senior minister, who
studied with me in Belgium (in the 80s), told the more than 70 attending pastors from various
Middle Eastern nations, that he perceived a revival at hand in the Muslim world. Now retired, the
Lord granted him to see thousands and thousands coming to the Lord, and becoming followers of
Jesus. Now, we had a supper together, and he explained more about his vision. Praise the Lord for
the many new believers, and the witnesses of his Children in this part of the world.
The Lord Bless You,
- Please pray for the Lords work through His people in the Middle East and other Muslim countries.
- Please pray for our volunteers’ contributions to the advance of His Kingdom.
- Please pray for safe travels for us.
- Please pray for the preparations for closing our house etc. anticipating our US-deputation year.
- Please pray for the Churches in the US, where we share about our ministry in the upcoming year.
- Please consider volunteer service in Europe.
- Please consider an electronic gift: https://www.internationalministries.org/teams/70-kalkman
Pieter & Nora Kalkman
Facilitating Life-Changing Mission Experiences