JERUSALEM, Israel – Marike Veldman left Holland and made a new home for herself in Jerusalem almost 40 years ago. Her goal was simple: to become a foster-mother to Arab children.
"I had no money. I had nothing, only God's promise from Psalm 10 that He will take care of the orphans," Marike said. "And this is how I started my home – in faith. I just rented a house and I decorated it and then after that all the children came. This was over a time of 32 years."
More than 20 children lived with Marike over the years. Some came for a short time, others for longer periods.
Life Changes in an Instant
On October 13, 2015, Marike's life suddenly changed when two Palestinian men boarded the Number 78 bus she was riding in Jerusalem. The men stabbed and shot passengers, killing three.
"They looked so suspicious that I thought, why would the bus driver even let them in? After that they started screaming," Marike recalled. "They were terrorists and one had a gun and the other a knife. The man with the knife jumped on me and he pushed me very hard on the window and then he started stabbing me in my shoulder and my chest and in my hands."
Marike remembers the other terrorist going to the back of the bus, where he started shooting.
"But while he was stabbing me I was saying in my own (Dutch) language the whole time, over and over again, 'oh, Lord Jesus,'" Marike said.
Marike tried to shield herself with her hands, when all of a sudden the man stopped attacking her and went to the back of the bus. Suddenly she heard glass breaking, and the door opened.
Marike stumbled out of the bus, bleeding and in shock. Still, she managed to wave down a driver who quickly got her to an ambulance. She had six knife wounds and a collapsed lung.
'Do You Hate Us Now?'
Many of Marike's former foster children came to visit her in the hospital. "One of the first questions my children asked me was, 'Momma, do you hate us now, and do you hate Arabs?" she recalled.
"I was flabbergasted that they would ask me these questions. And I said, 'No children, how can you ask me these kinds of questions? I'm called for the Arabs and of course I don't hate them.' "
"I was so thankful when I walked out of the bus alive that I thanked the Lord and it hasn't crossed my mind for one second that I would hate the Arabs. I even forgave the one who stabbed me," she said.
"And they said, 'Momma, that doesn't make any sense. How can you forgive someone when they wanted to kill you?' And I thought yeah, that doesn't make much sense to forgive a person like that. But then I thought, actually the Lord, our Father in Heaven, forgave us through the Lord Jesus. And forgiving is a choice. I want to make the choice to forgive. And once you make the choice, then God comes to help you. That is His grace. So if you make a choice to forgive, then God comes in and He gives you the grace to do it. So this is what I explained to my children. And the whole experience, the whole horrible thing, has brought me closer to the Lord. He has proven himself a wonderful God. We are serving a wonderful God and He is so good. That's what I have to say."