It is clear that not many of my old friends have done what I did by leaving Europe and migrate to Africa… And many have asked me: “why on earth would you do that?”.
Let me try to explain that here.
In the story of my roots I have talked about my troubled childhood. It has made me miss a lot in life that a normal child growing up in a normal family would experience, but I also have received an experience that I can change in to a triumph.
In the time when home was a place to avoid due to the hostile stepmother, I tried to spend time on the housing project’s kids play yard. This place however was also the favorite place of the local bullies-club. At our housing project we had these little corridors between the rows of houses as the Dutch are a Cycling people and in the backyard there were these stores for bicycles.
One day when I was in the play yard, the bullies came out and zoomed in on me. I ran into one of these corridors fleeing from these horrible big boys. I tried every door in the corridor but unlucky for me all of them were closed until I found one that was open. Thank God I quickly went inside and held the door handle closed to the boys coming after me would not be able to find me here…
But then I heard something behind me and when I turned my head… Oh NO! There was this older lady sitting in the yard looking at me. I knew I was in extra big trouble now. The lady called me over and asked me: “Are they disturbing you? Don’t worry, you are safe here. You are one of the Koelewijn children are you not? Are you Cor?..”. “Yes” I answered while wondering how she would know my name. She continued: “whenever those boys are disturbing you again, you can just come here. Just ring the bell on the front and you are always welcome”
Is that not completely unbelievable?! How did that happen?
I made grateful use of that offer and the lady and her daughter took care of me, fed me, allowed me to sit and watch TV until bedtime when I would walk back home to my bed.
It was quite so time later that I realized that the Angel of a lady who so selflessly helped me for quite a number of years was the wife of the man who ran away with my mum!!!
You see, this was totally a God ordained meeting. He took care of me using that wonderful lady. What a beautiful faith she has that she would take care of this troubled boy, the son of the woman who stole her husband. What a wonderful faith. She became for me a safe place to hide from the trouble I faced in my little world.
Years later when we stood at the starting point of registering a new organization for our work in Tororo I asked my wife what the Swahili translation is for ‘Hiding Place’. She told me it is Kimbilio.
Here at Kimbilio we try to be that hiding place for hundreds of orphaned children, most of them tell me stories that look so much like my own story. And now it is my turn to be that uncle that provides a safe place for them to hide away from hostile stepmothers and other relatives that try to exploit them. They often make tears to run down my cheeks when I listen to them. I feel so good being able to help them and introduce them to the God who not only provides a safe hiding place, but also heal them of those traumatic memories.
But there is more to this divine arrangement. Many years later, when we were in the Netherlands with my wife, we planned a trip from Haarlem where we were staying to Leiden where my brother-in-law stays. And when we were planning I proposed: “let us check if that old lady is still there in Lisse” which is right in the middle between Haarlem and Leiden. I found her telephone number in the telephone directory and called. I got her daughter who told me I was most welcome and that even her brothers and sisters were there… Okay, well, we went there and rang the doorbell. Surely the whole family was there. It was a nice get-together and we enjoyed it. I was able to introduce to them my wife and told stories of what we do in Uganda.
After about an hour and a full meal (yes Indonesian people will always welcome you with food!) we told them we had to leave as we were passing through to visit my brother-in-law. She gave me a big hug and thanked me for coming TO HER 80th BIRTHDAY PARTY!! I had NO IDEA. Wow, is that another God arrangement or what?!? Like a pastor-friend of mine says: “Too odd not to be God!”.
You see, in my darkest moments, God send angels to take care of me. And after I went through a prolonged period of inner healing, using mostly corporate worship, God prepared me to be a tool in His Hands to heal others. You see, Healed People Heal People but Hurt People Hurt People!
He healed me and as a consequence, it is my greatest joy to be involved in the process of healing others. I don’t do it to win favors or a special place in heaven, I do it because there is no greater joy then to see hurt people get healed. Let the gift go on because when God fills your cup, it never runs dry!