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Stories at Lake

Let a story of faith, healing, hope and courage inspires each and everyone of us to understand God's mercy and His purpose for us.


There have been several series of events in my life and some which happened even before I was born, which, by God’s grace, ultimately gave direction and fulfillment in my and our lives. (Philippians 2:13)

How I ultimately met Elaine is one such sequential thread. It began with a huge family tragedy. My sister, Erica, at 14, had a devastating electrocution, drowning accident which changed our lives and left her with lifelong disabilities. This tragic event sensitized me even more to the challenges handicapped people face. I began to associate with and help head-injured people.

One of my new head-injured friends, unbeknownst to me, was the son of the director of Wycliffe Bible translators in South America. His father, realizing I spoke Dutch and was a landscape architect, asked if I would be willing to direct finishing the new SIL translation center in Suriname. This led to my first solo missions’ trip outside of the USA.

As I became interested in South America, this led to reading several books about the well-known events surrounding the spearing of five missionary men by a very violent indigenous tribe in the rainforest of Ecuador.

At a LAC mountain camp, I first met Elaine. We were instructed to grab a card out of a bag and were not allowed to show it to anyone until we had a conversation with them. Only one other card matched. This led to me meeting Elaine. Our cards matched. I soon realized Elaine was familiar with the families of these missionaries. Elaine’s family were Wycliffe missionaries in the same rainforest. We keep returning to the Kichwa community Elaine grew up in, continuing wonderful ties with the indigenous friends she grew up with.

Another series of events, beginning before I was born, led us to connect with people from the region of the world my orphan, refugee father was from. My father’s family had roots in Iran and Israel. When my father was very young his well-known Christian family was attacked and forced to flee, ultimately leaving my father an orphan in a far-off land – Indonesia, where Dad’s simple, but resilient faith in God remained.

As our daughters grew older and would soon leave home for University, I wanted them to know that, even though things might get tough, God’s faithful lovingkindness remains. One Sunday morning, I felt convicted to write about my family history. Upon arriving at Galileans that morning I was asked to talk about my father in class even if I needed all the class time. Surprised, I realized God was prodding me, no further delays.

During the next few weeks many events happened which helped me realize God was speaking. He had a mission for me/us. Up until then, I had been reluctant to reach out to people from societies who had destroyed my family. Significantly, these very devastating injustices became testimony to God’s purposes and forgiveness. Now we reach out to many in and from the region where my family first suffered.

Meet Tom Atema, the Co-Founder of Heart for Lebanon (HFL), on Sunday, October 15,…