I am very honored to introduce the Belfast living, feline friendly, fun-loving, good cooking, movie watching and excellent hospitality minded couple, Milad and Holly Korkis.
Milad and Holly opened up their home, their time and ultimately their lives to me during my visit to Belfast. We all agreed this encounter was a divine blessing which we credit to He who calls us His favorite. We had a small discussion over who really was His favorite – I think we all won that argument.
But Tara, how did you wind up staying with these fine folks? Excellent question.
Several months before I left on this journey, a dear friend of mine said, “You know, you may want to check with YWAM (world-wide missionary organization) bases as you travel. Many bases are open to having people stay with them for a low cost.” So that is exactly what I did. I emailed the base in Belfast to see if they would take visitors. Milad and Holly offered up the spare room in their personal home for me to take up residence for a week.
Holly hails from the great state of Pennsylvania in the United States. Do not get too excited Eagles or Steelers fans, Holly professed her allegiance to God’s team – the Packers. About five years ago after completing YWAM’s DTS (Discipleship Training School) in Atlanta, Georgia, Holly came to work with a base in Rostrevor – a small seaside, resort town in Northern Ireland. Holly led quite a number of Rostrevor DTS groups and mission outreach teams. Interestingly, she mentioned a couple of favorite locations she has traveled on outreach more than once is the Middle Eastern countries of Israel and Palestine. Perhaps God was already preparing her heart . . .
After completing college, Milad followed in his older brother’s footsteps by becoming involved with YWAM. Approximately three years ago, he arrived in Northern Ireland from his homeland in Syria for a DTS at the Rostrevor base. Milad has great stories of incredible experiences like not being able to travel with his DTS outreach team to Israel and Palestine due to Syrian citizenship so instead worked in Belfast with a network of monks. He also made friends with a small group of elderly nuns who continually looked for ways to bless him…including gifting him money to help buy a beautiful engagement ring for Holly. When the expiration was creeping up on his visa, Milad applied for asylum in Northern Ireland as it was no longer safe for him to go back home as a Christian Syrian. He was granted refugee status and along with Holly is working toward gaining UK citizenship.
With “The Troubles” that have gone on between Northern and Southern Ireland, one of the focuses of the Rostrevor YWAM base is to actively help in conflict restoration. Every year the base takes an immense prayer walk which stretches over 200 miles along the border praying for restoration and reconciliation between the two countries. How beautiful is that?
Also, Northern Ireland has opened themselves to Syrian refugees relocating through UN programs. I had the opportunity with Milad and Holly to visit such a family for lunch. I was honored to be in the home of a Christian family who six to eight months ago left nearly everything they owned behind, boarded a plane without knowing or getting a choice of where they were being sent (for safety, they were told once the plane was in the air) to start a new life in a place where they do not speak the language or know the culture. The parents and three adult men are learning English but it is slow going as classes have ceased for summer break. They treat Milad as family and he assists them with MANY questions from asking to know what certain medicines are to where to go for various needs. AND Nadia’s food is fantastic. She and her husband, Isaac, will make sure your pants (or “trousers” as called in the UK) no longer button when you leave their home.
Considering current circumstances in Syria, Syrian refugees becoming scattered throughout the world including Northern Ireland and the ongoing training in restoration & resolution Rostrevor has armed Milad and Holly with, I have NO DOUBT that this couple is placed here for “such a time as this”. Currently, they are working on getting to know Belfast and meet local people. They are getting involved in the community and looking for ways to volunteer with a variety of organizations and groups.
But on a personal note, these two took incredible care of me. They had been thinking about going away to a festival but last-minute decided to stay home during the time I sent the email to YWAM Belfast. It was a miracle they were home in the first place. They are both incredible cooks. One night, we were sitting around chatting and Malid says, “I’m in the mood for french fries, anyone else want some?” Holly and I both agreed and within 15 minutes or so, Milad made delicious fresh french fries FROM SCRATCH. I’m talking real potatoes peeled and everything. Delicious! Holly is also a fantastic cook and continued to make sure I was comfortable. She even had a little welcome basket for me upon arrival. This was a bit of a down time for them so a couple of the days they took me around the city to see new, beautiful sights I had not seen yet. This former tour director always appreciates the extra touch of sightseeing and information provided along the way!
My life is blessed to have had the opportunity to meet these two dynamic world changers and now my dear friends. Please keep them in your prayers for guidance and wisdom as they continue to learn how to love on Belfast. If you are interested in more information on how you can help the Korkis Family, let me know. I am happy to put you in touch with them.