So began Tim McCalmont, in his characteristically self-effacing manner, in recounting how God is at work in and among the folks of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in a most surprising way.
It happened like this…
“We had a family move from Homs (Syria) to Costa Mesa,” explained McCalmont. They had been very involved in the Presbyterian Church in Homs. The husband, Arfan, had also been involved with the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon as well as being an elder in their local congregation and a businessman and an engineer.
The story actually begins with their daughter, a vocalist, who had come to Costa Mesa to study Opera at Orange Coast College, across the street from PCC. She came to the church and got involved with the music program and fell in love with the congregation – and them with her. She told her parents, “When you come to visit you must come to the church.”
So they did. Not only did they come for a visit, but when they decided to move to the United States they came intentionally to Costa Mesa to be involved at PCC where they have become affiliate members so as not to lose their membership in the very struggling church in Syria.
What happened, as McCalmont shares, is that this began to give the congregation new eyes with which to see what has been unfolding in this otherwise ‘foreign’ region of the world. For the people of PPC, what is happening in Syria has now become personal – as for McCalmont himself.
“Arfan put me in touch with the pastor in his church in Homs about the time that they were attacked,” he explained. “The city was gutted, so the church had to disperse and meet in four different locations – with Mofed Karajilly, the pastor, meeting with his people in each of the four locations.”
The congregation watched as their buildings were taken over, burned, bombed, and gutted – and as their people were impacted by all that was going on.
McCalmont and Pastor Karajilly began to email regularly, and the two congregations began to pray for one another. “It’s a mutual thing – Mofed prays for us, and we pray for him.” It’s been somewhat sporadic, due to the challenges being faced by Pastor Karajilly – at the most basic not having consistent electricity to power communication devices.
“It has been amazing, eye opening, for me,” explained McCalmont. “I am still learning so much. It is interesting how we become aware of things.”
In the meantime the congregation has received another young couple, also from Homs, who brought visiting Syrian friends to worship one Sunday. “We had to come and see for ourselves – we have heard so much about your congregation,” they said to McCalmont.
The Costa Mesa congregation has begun to participate, through McCalmont’s involvement, in the Syria Lebanon Partnership Network of the PCUSA. They will be hosting PCUSA mission corker Elmarie Parker in January and are hoping to organize a trip to visit the brothers and sisters in Syria sometime this spring.
“It’s just amazing – amazing to see this happen,” shared McCalmont. “We are connected through Christ and the Holy Spirit provides that unity that is so important to them as they are going through this very difficult time.”
Interested in how your congregation might join PCC in coming alongside brothers and sisters in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon? Contact Tim McCalmont or 714.557.3340 x100.