“Everyone should really consider a trip to the Middle East because the Christian movement is so alive, intense.”
These words were emphatically stated by Harvey Freeman, one of our NCS partners who a couple of short months ago went on a mission trip to the Middle East. He joined the regular outreach mission headed up by fellow NCS partner, Kalim Andraos, and visited Antioch, Turkey, Beirut and the surrounding areas of Lebanon.
If you don’t know Andraos, he grew up as a Christian in Lebanon during the civil war, facing persecution. He and his family were fortunate enough to come to the U.S. as refugees and pursue freedom and a safer life. Andraos takes NCS partners on trips back to the Middle East each year. This past September, it was Freeman’s turn.
“Twelve days traveling with Kalim is quite an adventure,” shared Freeman.
“Not only is he viewed as a prophet in these countries where they’ve built a large, strong network in Lebanon and Turkey - he is probably the most aggressive and crazy driver you will experience!”
Freeman explained how in Lebanon, they were coming down the mountain at a high rate of speed when a car came into their lane, facing them. Many drivers would have moved over to give the opposing car space, but not Andraos. He held his ground and actually intensified his effort, causing the other driver to swerve out of his lane.
“Michael Baughan, who was in the front seat with us, was frantically trying to convince Kalim to slow down and change lanes,” laughed Freeman.
Despite the crazy adventures in driving, Freeman said he, Andraos and Baughan were mostly busy doing important mission work. The team’s purpose was to support the missionaries and local pastors in addressing the needs of Christians in the Middle East, including recent converts. They provided spiritual encouragement and financial support to both the Christian and Muslim population. Freeman saw “God in action” everywhere, through the selfless, devoted people focused on the many needs of refugees.
“I repeatedly saw selfless Christians taking the Word of God to refugees, in particular” said Freeman.
“Being in the Middle East, you have a real awareness of man’s inhumanity to man - but also the opportunity of these people to find Jesus. You hear that Allah is an angry god, and so many folks are drawn to Christ as an alternative.”
Mission experiences often have a profound impact on personal faith - and it was no different for Freeman. He was brought closer to Christ as he saw the strong faith in action in this part of the world. Returning home, he was energized in his faith…and recommends that any believer make one of these trips.
“It’s amazing - God’s presence was everywhere in the Middle East,“ shared Freeman.
“At times, it made me feel like my faith was less actualized than those working tirelessly in the Middle East. I saw such dedicated Christians everywhere. But that’s one of the most empowering things about this journey God placed me on. And returning home, I found my faith to be renewed. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next!”